Sampling local cuisine is one of the best ways to experience Japan when traveling. Some dishes like sushi are easily recognizable, while other dishes may be new to travelers.

Takayama City in Gifu Prefecture has a variety of local dishes and foods, but where to start? For a more casual experience, head over to Takayama Old Town or the Miyagawa Market! Besides the beautiful wooden Japanese architecture, you can also find many delicious street foods to sample.

Our local staff at MACHIYA INNS & HOTELS have picked out six must-try street foods in Takayama Old Town. Read on to discover amazing Japanese sweets and savories!

See our recommended accommodation in Takayama : THE MACHIYA HOTEL TAKAYAMA

1. Hida Beef

3 types of hida beef sushi in Takayama

Takayama is famous for the delicious Hida Beef, a Japanese wagyu which is a specialty of the Hida region (which Takayama is a part of). Tender and delicious, Hida Beef is of an incredibly high quality and a dream for meat lovers visiting Japan.

You can’t visit Takayama without trying Hida Beef, but what if you want just a quick taste or to enjoy it in a more casual way? No problem — go for the street food version!

Here are two options to consider:

・Hida Beef Sushi: Delicious sushi with a beef twist available at Hida Kottegyu! You can pick from a variety of sauces and cuts of beef to suit your tastes. Even the plate is edible, as it’s served on a shrimp cracker! 

・Hida Beef Kushi-yaki: Hida beef kushi-yaki, or beef skewers, are available at Jugemu. It’s the perfect way to enjoy Hida Beef on the go while you explore beautiful Takayama Old Town. Choose from marbled, loin, or lean meat. 

gyu-kushi beef skewer

LOCATION: If you’re heading over to Takayama Old Town from the Takayama Jinya (historical, restored government building) area, cross the Miyagawa River at Nakabashi Bridge, then head north on Sanmachi Suji. You’ll find Hida Kottegyu just a couple minutes up the street, nestled between a tofu restaurant and souvenir shop to your left. A little further down the street, across from an information center for tourists, is Jugemu. Just follow the smell of delicious beef!

2. Takoyaki

takoyaki in Miyagawa Market

Takoyaki is a tantalizing ball-shaped snack containing diced octopus, tempura, green onion, and pickled ginger prepared in a specially molded pan. This is a popular street food with Japanese locals, and you’ll know why as soon as you bite into one of the savory treats!

The takoyaki at Takoyaki Sago are made with ingredients native to the area, including Hida Green Onion and octopus from nearby Ishikawa Prefecture. Stop by to pick up some takoyaki, and sample this Japan street food delicacy while you wander around Takayama Old Town.

LOCATION: Takoyaki Sago can be found at the Miyagawa Morning Market, a little to the north of Takayama Old Town. Be sure to check their Instagram for their location and hours!

3. Soft Serve Ice Cream

Soft serve ice cream, custard pudding flavor

Soft serve ice cream may not seem like the obvious Japanese street food to recommend. After all, you can eat ice cream all over the world. But Japan is home to some of the most unique ice cream flavors in the world, and even Japanese tourists line up to sample Takayama’s own spin on soft serve ice cream.

Head to Takayama Pudding-tei, one of Takayama City’s most popular sweet shops. It’s based in a building dating back to the Taisho era (1912 – 1926), and is rich with old-fashioned charm. 

Choose from three flavors of irresistible soft serve ice cream:

・Purin (Japanese custard pudding)
・Ramune (a popular carbonated Japanese soft drink)
・Yuki-guni (“snow country”), a blend of pudding and Ramune soft serve

The yuki-guni soft serve is made in the image of the stunning snowy views you can expect to see if you visit the Hida area during winter. 

LOCATION: Like when heading to Hida Takayama Kottegyu and Jugemu, take Sanmachi Suji north. Once you hit Sanmachi Street, take a right. Takayama Pudding should be the 3rd shop on the right side of the street.

4. Taiyaki

Mini taiyaki in Takayama city

Taiyaki is a fish-shaped cake named and modeled on tai fish (red sea bream). You can find taiyaki throughout Japan, enjoyed as a delicious snack by locals and tourists alike. 

Unlike regular taiyaki, which average about 15 cm or 6 inches, the taiyaki at Cyanome in Takayama, Japan is bite-sized, perfect for on-the-go. The owners aim to offer innovative sweet treats, with various seasonal menus to keep things interesting. 

Choose from fillings like:

・Azuki red bean paste
Sweet potato

If you’re traveling with a group, we recommend getting several flavors of taiyaki to share, so you can try a bit of everything!

Taiyaki from Chanome in Takayama

LOCATION: Find Cyanome in Takayama Old Town just across from Hida Takayama Kottegyu!

5. Takayama Pudding

Homemade Takayama Purin (Japanese custard)

Japanese pudding (or purin) is a common custard-based dessert, with fans in both adults and children. It is similar to creme caramel found in other countries, and is a simple, yet delicious, treat.

You can find it almost anywhere, from convenience stores to cafes and restaurants, but take our word and try the pudding at Noix De Coco when in Takayama. Besides the regular options, if you visit during the winter months, they have a special hot pudding, which is sure to warm you up.

Noix De Coco prepares its pudding with the utmost care. It contains only eggs, milk, vanilla, fresh cream, and sugar. Their Japanese sweets specialists use locally sourced, specially selected eggs and fresh milk in their creations.

With tremendous care taken in the ingredients and preparation, the pudding has a wonderfully rich taste and creamy texture. One taste and you’re sure to fall in love with Noix De Coco!

LOCATION: Pudding from Noix De Coco can be purchased at their stand at the Miyagawa Morning Market.

6. Tomato Juice

Takayama Tomato Juice

Tomato juice is definitely not something that comes to mind when searching for Japanese street food on this list. But we’re absolutely serious: one drink of Maruori’s tomato juice and you won’t be able to go back to to any other! 

What makes it so worth your yen? This irresistible juice is 100% tomatoes only — nothing else. That’s not the case with most other tomato juice drinks, though, which often contain salt. 

Pure tomato and pure flavor, the company created its tomato juice to increase awareness that you can eat tomatoes raw, and to highlight the delicious taste of tomatoes grown in the Nibukawa area. They’re watered with melted snow from the Northern Japanese Alps, which adds to their purity.

Maruori’s tomatoes have a natural sweetness, as farmers harvest them between September and November when their sweetness is at its peak. It’s certainly different from the other Japanese sweets we’ve listed, but this tomato juice packs plenty of powerful flavor, while being a healthy snack!

LOCATION: Head over to Hida Takayama Marutto Plaza to grab a bottle or two of the delicious tomato juice from Maruori. You can also find other local souvenirs here too. It is on the west side of the Miyagawa River on Honmachi Dori, a little north of Yanagibashi Bridge.

We hope our list of six must-try Japanese street food options introduces you to plenty of unforgettable snacks during your stay in Takayama. 

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