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Autumn Flavors of Japan! 8 Seasonal Foods to Eat Now

“Fall, the season of harvest”, “Fall, the season of art”, “Fall, the season of sports”… There are many Japanese phrases that are associated with the fall season. Personally, I am most interested in “Fall, the season for increased appetite”. Yes, come fall season, the stores are filled with delicious looking foods that are in season; thus stimulating the appetite and making us buy extra things that we were not planning to initially buy. We know in our heads that we should be careful of overbuying and overeating, but we can’t help it because this season has the particularly delicious food items that are called “aki ni mikaku” or flavors of the fall season. So what are these favors of fall? Here, we introduce a select few.


1. Apples

Photo by flickr

Seeing the bright red apples in stores lets us know that fall is finally here. Apples that are filled with sweetness are good eaten as is, or as ingredients in snacks such as baked apples or apple pie. It tastes good any way you decide to eat it.


2. Eggplant

Photo by flickr

There is a saying in Japanese that goes “Don’t let the wife eat the autumn eggplant”. There are many stories behind this saying, but generally it is thought to be the words of an evil mother-in-law to say that “it would be a waste to let the young wife eat the delicious autumn eggplant”. It could also be said that it is an indicator of how delicious the autumn eggplant is.


3. Chestnut

Photo by flickr

The chestnut looks cute in its appearance. Come fall, there are many stores that offer “kuri gohan” which is rice cooked with chestnut as well as other treats that use chestnut as its ingredient. The chestnut can be used as an ingredient in a savory dish or a sweet snack so it is an ingredient you want to try cooked in your own preferred way.


4. Sweet Potato

Photo by flickr

It can be eaten steamed, mixed in rice, as an ingredient in miso soup, mashed or used in a baked snack called “sweet potato”, and all are delicious. It is sweet, rich in fibers and high in nutrients so is popular among a wide group of people.


5. Salmon

Photo by flickr

The salmon which is born in the river and migrates to the sea returns to the river to lay its eggs around September to November; which is the best season for salmon. The flesh is fatty and plump, and at its peak of deliciousness. Eat it grilled as is and it is plenty good.


6. Pacific Saury

Photo by flickr

The one month between September and October is said to be high season for the Pacific Saury. It is rich in oils and high in nutrients. There are many ways to eat this fish, but the most popular way to eat it is grill it salted whole over charcoal, topped with grated daikon radish.


7. Persimmon

Photo by flickr

The persimmon which is said to have originated in East Asia has many varieties, reaching over 1,000. There are two major types of the persimmon, the sweet and astringent. It can be peeled and eaten as is as a dessert or is also good mixed in salads.


8. Matsutake Mushroom

Photo by flickr

The mushroom is one of the flavors of the fall season. Among them the variety that is ranks highest in aroma, flavor and rarity is this Matsutake Mushroom. As it is not easy to artificially cultivate, it is considered a rare delicacy, making it an expensive food yet the sophisticated aroma and flavors have had a strong appeal to the Japanese since long ago.


If you ever have a chance to come to Japan in the fall, you will be able to eat seasonal ingredients introduced above in many different places. If there are any you have never eaten before, we would encourage you to take the opportunity to try it when its taste is at its best.

Related Articles:
Japanese Food: Super Simple Recipe for Chestnut Rice “Kurigohan”

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About the author

I'm interested in general in all things related to culture and fine arts with a focus on movies, art, and design. I hope to introduce to many people all the different sides to Japan in regards to Japanese culture.

View all articles by KAWATA