Tanabata Festival & Traditional Japanese Festival Foods


Tanabata is an important Japanese festival held on the 7th day of the 7th month and represents the legend of Orihime and Hikoboshi, the names of two stars (Vega & Altair) portrayed as lovers who only have a chance to meet once a year.
As with many Japanese festivals, there are lots of traditional customs for Tanabata. The most popular is the custom of writing one’s wishes onto a small strip of paper and then hanging them on a piece of bamboo. The bamboo is then set afloat down a river so that the wishes can be taken away and hopefully come true.
Of course, like other Japanese festivals, tanabata is a great way to celebrate with friends and family and eat some popular Japanese festival foods. During Japanese festivals, the streets are alive with small stalls selling everything from dango mochi balls to takoyaki octopus balls and all number of snacks in between! We know that not everyone can be in Japan during the tanabata festival so instead, Japan Centre has four of the top Japanese festival foods to introduce to you along with some easy to follow recipes so you can make these great tasting dishes at home.



Takoyaki is a hugely popular Japanese food made by from fried round dough balls with small pieces of octopus inside. This is a classic festival food and so popular in Japan, they have fast food chains similar to McDonalds that specialise just in this delicious delicacy.

We have a great recipe for takoyaki including the all-important takoyaki grill plate, the only way to make perfectly round takoyaki at home!



Yakisoba is a delicious dish of fried noodles, usually mixed with cabbage and pork, all topped with lashings of yakisoba sauce and Japanese mayonnaise. This is a classic festival snack food that you can guarantee will be available at nearly any Japanese festival.

Have a look at our recipe for yakisoba, we have pre-cooked yakisoba noodles and the great tasting yakisoba sauce for an authentic taste.



Okonomiyaki is a sort of Japanese savoury pancake that is made with batter and a variety of different ingredients. Okonomiyaki litterally means “grilled as you like it” due to the huge number of variations you can use. The most common ingredients are cabbage, spring onion and meat or seafood.

Our okonomiyaki recipe shows you how you can make this fantastic dish easily using a special flour just for making okonomiyaki.



Yakitori is a common sight both at Japanese festivals and roadside “yatai” stalls. Yakitori is usually grilled chicken on a skewer, but can also be made with chicken liver, chicken hearts, chicken skin or even chicken bone cartilage.

Luckily, our yakitori recipe is for the most common type of grilled chicken mixed with spring onions and served with yakitori sauce.

Make sure to check Japan Centre for more ingredients to accompany these great tasting summer festival foods, as well as all our other authentic Japanese recipes!