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Oct 27, 2010 10:15 AM

New Year's street food in Tokyo?

I'll be visiting Tokyo from around Dec. 27th through January 2nd. I realize it's not the best time since lots of restaurants will be closed New Year's, but I didn't have much flexibility on the dates.

I've been to Tokyo several times, but usually in the summer or early fall. I thought it would be fun to go in the winter and get to experience hatsumode. From some pictures I've seen, it seems that around some shrines there are lots of food stands set up. Are there any specific shrines I should target with the most variety of food stands?

Any other suggestions for unique or interesting things to try during that period also much appreciated!

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  1. The one famous for enshrining war criminals would probably be good. Can't remember the name off-hand.

    Also Hie Jinja would probably be good.

    1. You can try the large famous shrines like Yasukuni, Meiji, and the large one in Shiba (can't recall the name) which will probably have multi-day festivals with performances and demonstrations. They will have the most stalls to deal with the crowds. I'm not sure there is anything REALLY special in terms of food (they are usually sort of licensed vendors), but there will be the standards like taiyaki, yakisoba, takoyaki, etc. The crowds can be really crazy though. I stopped going because of this. On New Year's Eve and Day you can visit any shrine and drink hot amazake (sweet, unfiltered, low alcohol sake).

      In the run up to the 31st, Tsukiji and all the depachika/ nicer supermarkets are abuzz with all kinds of activity. It's the best time of year for depachika/ markets and worth dealing with the crowds.

      1. For some reason I have the impression that neither Yasukuni nor Meiji have much in the way of food stalls, but I'm not sure. I'm confident that Sensoji in Asakusa will have an enormous selection, with many options for each food group. But SJ is right, don't expect anything special.
        My local shrine, Tomioka Hachiman in Monzennakacho, also has a pretty good selection, and has them 3 times a month as well as for festivals.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jem589

          Meiji has a whole section of food, but like other places, nothing to write home about. Great ambience, though. My favorite for that kind of goofy pleasure is Yasaka Jinja in Kyoto.

          1. re: jem589

            I don't know about New Year's, but Yasukuni (the one I was thinking of but couldn't remember) had a lot of stalls during hanami season.

            If I were in Tokyo during that time, I might want to take a side-trip to Nikko and see what's happening up there. Might be some interesting stuff.

          2. Thanks for the suggestions everyone. Yeah, I'm not expecting super high quality food. More just for the novelty of it. Like getting a hot dog from a cart in NYC.

            I'll do some more research on the places mentioned so far.