Dec 5, 2017
There are a multitude of reasons why I love living in Japan. One of the biggest has to be the array of different festivals held year-round. They are such a fun glimpse into the nature and the culture here, but I'd be hiding the truth if I didn't mention another one of my favorite reasons for heading to a festival -- and that's none other than festival food!
Most countries around the world have their own unique spin on festival food sweet treats. For me back home in Australia, you'll just about always see a van selling hot jam-filled donuts - even if it's right in the middle of summer! For my husband back home in the States, funnel cakes and caramel apples are some of the most popular festival sweets. Here in Niigata though, when it comes to something sweet that you'll regularly see at festival food stalls, there's none other than poppoyaki!
What are Poppoyaki?
Poppoyaki are made of steamed bread, shaped in a stick form (somewhat similar to a churro from outward appearances), and they're flavored with brown sugar. They're the perfect treat if you want something sweet, but not cloyingly so - similar to many Japanese desserts that just give you the right amount of a sugar hit without going over the top. Best of all, they won't break the bank, either - they're usually priced around 300 yen for 9 pieces, and 500 yen for 15 pieces, which is a bargain if you ask me.
What's with the name Poppoyaki?
The name poppoyaki is actually an onomatopoeia - it comes from the sound that the steam makes when they are cooking!
How do I get my hands on some Poppoyaki if I can't make it to a Niigata-based festival?
If you are headed to Niigata but won't be attending a festival, it's worth checking local convenience stores and supermarkets to see if they have them in stock. I've seen pre-packaged varieties at both of those places (just have a look through the bread section), and they should be enough to quell your curiosity about the tasty snack! I've only tried them at festivals though, and I'd venture to say that fresh is best - so if you can enjoy them as part of a festival, that's definitely the way to go! There's something to be said about eating them right as they're made.
So there you have it - a quick glimpse into one of snow country's festival food favorites. Niigata is probably better known for their incredible rice and sake (seriously - those two are must tries as well if you get the chance to) but these are definitely one of their hidden gems when it comes to food.
Poppoyaki are incredibly tasty, perfect to eat on the go, and will definitely have you craving more after you try them for the first time. I hope that if you get the chance to enjoy some poppoyaki for yourself that you'll enjoy them as much as my family and I do!
Are there any regional sweet treats that hail from your part of Japan?
After spending the last several years in the beating heart of Tokyo, I will be spending the next three in the countryside of Japan. I adore this country and all it has to offer - and I'm always learning more and more about life here as I go along!