Get to Know Japan's Prefectures Through Japanese Snacks!

by Megan Taylor Stephens

Prefectures in Japan

When you travel from region to region in Japan, you can’t help but notice that there are distinct themes and specialties that appear on menus. With all the variety that Japan has to offer in terms of geography, covering land to sea and valley to mountain, it’s no wonder that the cuisine is so rich in variety as well.

Japan is divided into 47 prefectures (todōfuken), and the prefectures are grouped into eight regions (chihō). The prefecture boundaries are loosely based on the fiefdoms that used to exist in the shogunate era. Over the years, these fiefdoms made use of their own local ingredients, which influenced the cultivation of local cooking styles.

Let’s take a tour of some of the prefectures and the flavors they’re known for!

Japanese Snacks to Match the Regions

The city of Osaka is in the southwestern Kansai region. It is famous for negiyaki, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and other griddled pancake-like dishes that are topped with fun toppings like pickled red ginger, or beni shōga. These Osaka Beni Shōga Ginger Tempura Potato Chips exemplify Osaka to a tee. They have just the right amount of tangy and aromatic pickled ginger with the perfectly salty and crispy chip. Just be forewarned that once opened, the entire bag of chips will be devoured!

Kyoto is just north of Osaka. It’s known for tofu, tsukemono (pickles), and matcha (green tea), among other things. One dessert that epitomizes Kyoto is the Kyoto Matcha Waffle Sandwich. It is a thin, crispy, golden waffle filled with the heavenly combination of white chocolate and divine matcha cream.

Traveling northeast, we get to the Kanto region. Here we have Tokyo. It’s known for dishes like soba noodles, tempura, yakitori (skewered chicken), and senbei rice crackers. Eitaro Peasen: Authentic Flavor Trio is a nice way to try a few different types of peasen, which are senbei made with peanuts that originated in the Tokyo area. This sampler pack includes light and crunchy, umami rice crackers with traditional flavors such as aosa seaweed and bonito flakes.

Just north of Tokyo is Saitama. Miso potato, tofu ramen, unagi (eel), and sweet potatoes are all Saitama specialties. Sweet potatoes are featured in many Japanese sweets and savory dishes, and Kanalce: Gorojima Kintoki Sweet Potato Cake is an example of the versatility of the humble root vegetable. This cake is beautifully moist and rich and not overpowered by sweet potato flavor. Good thing this includes 10 cakes because you may not be able to stop at one!

In the far north of Japan is Hokkaido. This large fertile prefecture is well known for food such as potatoes, seafood, yubari king melon, and dairy products. Funwari Meiji Mochi Puffs: Hokkaido Cheese capture the essence of dairy in a fun, bite-sized, savory mochi bite. It is made from milk sourced from Hokkaido cows and is a wonderfully light, airy, melt-in-your-mouth experience. Six separate packs may not be enough to satiate your craving!

Bokksu Has You Covered

There are definitely too many delicious regional Japanese ingredients and flavors to list! Luckily you can go to Bokksu’s online Asian grocery market and find all the individual Japanese snacks you wish to nibble on. You can even select a specific Japanese snack box or Japanese candy box that grabs your fancy.

Better yet, you can sign up for a Japanese snack subscription box that comes to your door every month. Each box is filled with high-quality Japanese candy, authentic savory snacks, and gourmet teas that let you take a tour of Japan’s most popular and iconic treats without leaving your house!

How to Say Delicious in Some Japanese Dialects

There are lots of different dialects, or hōgen (方言), spoken around Japan. You can add the suffix ben (弁)to a city or region to mean dialect or accent of that area, such as Hiroshima-ben (Hiroshima dialect). Here’s how to say “very delicious” or “really tasty” in an informal way in some regions of Japan, from south to north:

Okinawan Japanese dialect = Maa san!

Nagasaki dialect = Bari umaka!

Kochi dialect = kojanto umaiki!

Osaka dialect = Meccha umai! or Honma oishii!

Kyoto dialect = Oishi osunaa!

Tokyo dialect = Tottemo oishii!

Saitama dialect = Ume na!

Aomori dialect = Yadara umeja!

Hokkaido dialect = Namara umai!

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Author Bio

Megan Taylor Stephens interest in the Japanese language, culture, and food goes way back. She was a Japanese exchange student in high school. Then she studied Japanese and linguistics in college, returned to Japan to work through the JET program (Coordinator of International Relations), and was an interpreter and translator for a while. Megan taught English as a Foreign Language in Japan and other countries before getting a Master's degree in ESL and becoming an ESL teacher. She then pivoted to becoming a school-based speech-language pathologist, so still gets to be immersed in the field of applied linguistics and loves working with bilingual students. Megan enjoys writing on the side for companies like Bokksu. A love of language, culture, travel, food, and learning never dies, it only gets more intense--just like cravings for ramen and Pocky!