Street Food in Kumamoto

ByJustin Hanus
Jan 20, 2023

Street Food in Kumamoto

Japanese cuisine is a very distinct part of the country’s culture and each part of the country has its own local dishes and twists on national favourites. Kumamoto is no different. One of the key prefectures on Kyushu Island with a vibrant city, it’s known for its ramen, akagyu beef and oysters. However, you can also find a mouth-watering range of street food dishes here. Here’s the lowdown on what you can expect.

Karashi Renkon

One of Kumamoto’s most famous snack dishes, this looks a bit like a lemon-themed sweet but it’s actually a savoury treat with a kick. Essentially, it’s a Japanese lotus root filled with a mixture of miso, mustard and turmeric, then deep fried in an egg and flour batter. You can find this at street food wagons across Kumamoto as well as boxed in stores. It’s a great snack food to go and is considered a healthy bite, originating during the feudal period to help a feudal lord recover from illness.

Ikinari Dango

This sweet local delicacy is another perfect bite-size snack food available from street vendors and souvenir shops. It’s a mochi rice cake filled with a layer of sweet potato and sugared red bean paste. The name translates as “suddenly cake”, mainly because it’s relatively easy to make as a snack treat, and you can expect to be served this in people’s homes in Japan. Delicious hot or cold, other flavours include chestnut and white bean paste.


Probably the quintessential Kumamoto dish, this is horse meat sashimi (raw horse meat). Although it may not sound too appetizing, it actually makes a tender lunch-sized bite and is usually served with salad, onions and a sauce such as garlic or soy. The meat has a vibrant color, usually red or dark pink, and is favored for its high protein and low fat content. If you don’t fancy the sashimi, look out for horse meat hot pot served in many local restaurants.

Sea Urchin

If you’re on the Amakusa Islands in south-west Kumamoto and are into seafood, check out this local delicacy. It is not for everyone as it has a strong taste but you can find it in many forms. These include as sushi and, probably the best bet for a novice, a tasty croquette (korokke) with a cream sauce.

Hitomoji Guruguru

This is a lesser-known and more basic dish but very much part of the Kumamoto street food scene. It’s a type of spring onion (hitomoji) that is boiled and then wrapped with its middle, served with a vinegar miso. Very simple to prepare and also a fun in-between snack that will really give you a shot of authentic Kumamoto.

Horaku Manju

A sweet street food option similar to ikinari dango as it features bean paste as a key ingredient, but this one is more of a traditional cake rather than a mochi rice one. These are sold in boxes at street kiosks and souvenir shops, where you can expect around 4-6 individual pieces.

皇翔, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

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