Once a year in February, the Shinagawa Yakiimo Terrace is held in Tokyo. This festival celebrates everything sweet potato and showcases new and inventive snacks to enjoy the beloved winter flavor.
Roasted sweet potato, or yakiimo in Japanese, is a popular autumn and winter snack in Japan. They are healthy, delicious and easily available during the colder months.
Today we will introduce you to an extremely popular yakiimo festival in Tokyo, known as Shinagawa Yakiimo Terrace, and its vast variety of sweet potato snacks that draw in thousands of people every year. In 2020, it is held from January 27th until February 2nd.
Shinagawa Yakiimo Terrace – Steaming Sweet Potatoes and Warming Open-Air Kotatsu
Shinagawa Yakiimo Terrace had its start in 2018. When asked why they created a sweet potato festival the answer was simply that it’s a delicious and healthy snack that is enjoyed by everyone, no matter the age or gender.
If you ever visited a Japanese supermarket during the colder months, you know that this answer is very true. You see an ederly woman getting one for a simple afternoon snack while a small child begs his or her mother for yakiimo right beside her.
The soft flesh and sweet flavor make it easy to eat and it’s also healthy because it is full of vitamins and high in fiber. There are many good reasons why this sweet snack has been popular in Japan for a long time.
However, sweet potatoes aren’t all equal. Some are sweeter, some are milder, some yellow, some orange and some even purple. To introduce everyone to the great variety of sweet potatoes and the snacks in the same flavor, Shinagawa Yakiimo Terrace was invented.
This yakiimo festival is something that can be enjoyed alone or with the whole family. I saw three or even four generations visiting all together and sharing the snacks. There are also a couple of open-air kotatsu (heated tables) to snuggle up under but you have to be very fast to reserve one.
Line-up 2020 – Sweet Potato Heaven
Here are ten examples of what to expect at the Shinagawa Yakiimo Terrace. The line-up mainly consists of shops located in and around the Tokyo area presenting their best sweet potatoes and sweet potato snacks.
1. DoCo? – Sweet Potato Roasted in Coconut Oil
Picture courtesy of DoCo?
DoCo?‘s specialty is juicy, fresh sweet potato from Miyazaki roasted in coconut oil. The sweetness of both flavors plays very well together. They also offer Japanese crepes, filled with whipped cream and the same delicious coconut oil roasted sweet potato.
2. Moimoi – Purple Sweet Potato Specialty Store
Picture courtesy of moimoi
Moimoi is located in Chiba. They specialize in rich purple sweet potatoes. Purple sweet potatoes are unique to Japan and especially popular in Okinawa. They are very flavorful and take on a smoky taste when roasted. Their most unique item is a purple sweet potato latte. It is creamy, not to sweet and has a vivid purple sweet potato flavor and color.
3. OIMO Cafe – Sweet Potato Farm with 350 Years of History
Picture courtesy of OIMO cafe
OIMO Cafe belongs to a 350-year-old farm which grows sweet potatoes. One of their standout items is sweet potato tempura (battered and fried vegetables), which is created with one of the highest grade sweet potato, also known as the queen of sweet potatoes.
4. Pukupuku – Honeyed Sweet Potato and Potato Tea
Picture courtesy of pukupuku
Pukupuku started by selling their honeyed sweet potato from a garage every winter. These potatoes are so thickly covered in delicious, sticky honey that they are handed out in a vacuum pack. They also sell sweet potato tea which can be bought in powdered form to take out as well.
5. SAZANKA – King of the “Gold Potato”
Picture courtesy of SAZANKA
SAZANKA has perfected its own kind of sweet potato known as kyokukan, or “gold potato”. It is said to be extremely sweet, juicy and fiber-rich once it is baked.
6. Amendoruya – Honeyed Sweet Potato Sticks
Picture courtesy of Amendoruya
Amendoruya is popular for its crispy, freshly fried honeyed sweet potato sticks. The cut is extremely fine making them extra crunchy. Besides honey, no additives are added. Perfect to snack on at the yakiiimo festival or to take out.
7. Yosshi – White Sweet Potatoes
Picture courtesy of Yosshi
Normally the flesh of sweet potatoes in Japan is yellow, purple or sometimes orange. White-fleshed sweet potatoes are rather rare but are recently gaining popularity. They are delicate in flavor and need to be baked very carefully to bring out the best flavor. Yosshi’s owner is known as one of the masters of baking white-fleshed sweet potatoes.
8. Kaitsuka – Ibaraki’s Superstar
Picture courtesy of Kaitsuka
Kaitsuka is an extremely popular sweet potato shop from Ibaraki. Besides delicious sweet potatoes, known as “red angle”, they also offer dried sweet potato snacks which are great for take-out.
9. Yakiimo Koro – Producer of the Rare Mitsuhime Sweet Potato
Picture courtesy of Yakiimo Koro
Yakiimo Koro offers the rare mitsuhime sweet potato which is only grown in Wakayama, Kushimo. It is said to be extremely juicy in texture. The shop offers different snacks with this rare potato. One of the most popular is the sweet potato koroke (Japanese croquette).
10. #imore – A Rewed Favorite
Picture courtesy of SEAED
#imore is the new name of the fan-favorite SEAED. It is located in Shinagawa and became famous for its brule sweet potato they created for the Shinagawa Yakiimo Terrace 2018. This year their line-up still includes their beloved brule as well as an all-new Sweet Potato Tapioca Latte.
A World of Delicious Yakiimo
Roasted sweet potato is the ultimate winter snack in Japan and if Japanese people like a flavor they often invent an incredible array of versions of it. Shinagawa Yakiimo Terrace has every possibly imaginable version of Yakiimo as well as the simple favorites. Why don’t you join and find out why everyone loves the sweet and healthy snack so much?
Written by Chiara Mischke (Crystal Japan) for MATCHA – Japan Travel Web Magazine
Original Article Link: https://matcha-jp.com/en/7016