The Taste Of Japanese Autumn

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FOOD: The Taste of Japanese Autumn

Celebrated in Japan as the season for hearty feasting, bountiful tables and big appetites known locally as Shokuyoku no Aki (‘Autumn Appetite’),

the autumn months are the ideal time for foodies to get stuck into the local fare.

Here are eight foods to try as the temperature drops and the nights draw in.



As the Autumn months approach, persimmon trees become laden with bright, ripe fruit – ready to be eaten raw, strung up and dried, or made into all manner of sticky jams and deserts. Known locally as kaki, persimmons are Japan’s favourite fall fruit – inexpensive and easy to find throughout the season.

Image via unsplash


New Rice

Thought to be softer, sweeter and more moist than rice harvested earlier in the year, shinmai, or ‘new rice’, refers to grain fresh from the field, and can be enjoyed in Japan as the growing season comes to an end – strictly between September and December. Best enjoyed with a sprinkle of salt or topped with other autumn staples such as chestnuts or matsutake mushrooms, look out for new rice at local food market or on the menus at restaurants during the early-winter months.

Image via unsplash


Hiyaoroshi and Akiagari Sake

As one of the defining tastes of Japan, sake can be enjoyed year-round. But find yourself in the country during autumn and make sure you track down the seasonal specialities, hiyaoroshi and akiagari sake – brewed in winter, aged during spring and summer, ready for drinking just as autumn approaches. Known for its youthful, vibrant flavour, ask at speciality bars and liquor stores for a taste of seasonal sake.

Image credit: Aha-Matsui.com



A firm favourite in Japan, the sweet smell of a passing yakiimo truck is warming and familiar during the colder months. With a distinct purple skin and fluffy yellow flesh, Japanese sweet potato is a eaten every which way as autumn sets in, but is mostly enjoyed roasted, sticky and sweet – traditional comfort food, cooked on the back of a local food cart.

Image credit: Matcha-jp.com

Kabocha Croquette

Another local comfort food worth seeking out on your autumn trip to Japan, kabocha – often referred to as Japanese pumpkin – is abundant in fall and most commonly eaten deep-fried, coated in a delicious crispy batter. For a chance to sink your teeth into one of autumn’s best-loved snacks, look out for korokke – Japanese pumpkin croquette from street vendors, in izakayas and at local convenience stores.

Image credit: Just One Cookbook



Known locally as kuri and prevalent in Japan throughout the autumn months, Japanese chestnuts are a familiar taste and essential ingredient in many hearty winter dishes. Often cooked with rice to add seasonal flavour, chestnuts are also roasted as a simple snack or used in a variety of traditional sweets – for example kuri kinton – candied chestnuts – or kuri-manju, a sweet pastry with a whole steamed chestnut inside.

Image via unsplash


Matsutake Mushrooms

Japan is home to a wealth of native mushrooms, found in a huge number of traditional dishes. But if you’re looking for a unique taste of autumn, it’s the matsutake or ‘pine’ mushroom that defines the season. With a rich, earthy flavour, matsutake mushrooms require very specific conditions to grow and have long-since been considered a local delicacy and one Japan’s most expensive foods. Found on the roots of pine trees during the autumn months only, matsutake mushrooms are best enjoyed grilled, steamed with rice, or in a simple dashi broth to fully appreciate their unique flavour.

Image credit: Superfoods.news


Salt-Grilled Sanma (Pacific Saury)

Finally, no list of Japanese fall foods is complete without salt-grilled sanma, or pacific saury. Caught off the north-eastern coast of Hokkaido during the cold autumn months, sanma is a fatty fish enjoyed in abundance throughout Japan – grilled whole with a touch of salt and served crispy with a dash of soy sauce, a squeeze of yuzu and side of grated daikon radish.

Image credit: Pretty Simply Tasty

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