Obon: Summer Festival and Summer Foods in Japan

Top Summer Food Favorites

In Japan, summer is marked by the Obon festival, celebrated annually sometime during the months of July to August. The festivals take place at Buddhist temples to honor ancestors. Families reunite, pay homage to their altars, and visit ancestral tombs. They also celebrate with dancing, or bon odori, the highlight of Obon festivals, representing joy and appreciation for ancestral sacrifices and for loved ones who have passed on.

Everybody wears light summer kimono, known as yukata. Different Japanese foods are available for sale and there are games for children as well. There’re many traditional Japanese foods at the festival, also Hawaiian-Chinese, American, and other Asian-fusion dishes.

Japanese Favorites

Futomaki (or maki sushi) is traditional sushi roll filled with vegetables such as dried daikon cooked in dashi, cucumber slice or cooked spinach, tamagoyaki (egg roulade), and a sweet dried fish that is dyed pink, known in Japanese as sakura denbu. All the ingredients are wrapped in sushi rice and seaweed.

Chirashi sushi is also called bara sushi or scattered sushi. Sushi rice is served in a bowl and topped with various cooked and fresh vegetables, fish, seafood and kinshi tamago or egg.

Inari sushi is sushi rice wrapped in ageh or fried tofu, cooked in a sweet dashi. Sometimes the sushi rice used is mixed with five types of vegetables and is known as gomoku sushi. Kids love them and sometimes are referred to as ‘footballs’.

Teriyaki chicken is sweet and savory teriyaki marinated chicken grilled and served on a plate with rice and tsukemono (pickled cabbage) or side salad. It’s very popular.

Yaki soba is Japanese pan fried noodle with chicken or beef and stir-fried vegetables such as cabbage, celery, and carrots, and often topped with dried green seaweed or aonori.

Other popular Japanese foods are takoyaki, Japanese snack balls; grilled corn, or yaki tomorokoshi, mitarashi dango, glutinous rice flour balls on a bamboo stick served with a sweet soy sauce; and shave ice with sweet red beans and green tea syrup. Summer is just delicious in Japan.

Celebrating Obon in Issaquah

It’s just like celebrating Japanese summers when you come to Aji Sushi restaurant in Issaquah. You will find most of these favorite festival foods on our menu even if it isn’t summer here.