In Japan, autumn is known as the best season for hearty eating. It is sometimes called “食欲の秋” (shokuyoku no aki), which literally means “Autumn Appetite.” Japanese people believe that their appetite increases because of the bountiful amounts of good food during this season. From the delicious foods to the beautiful fall foliage, autumn is undoubtedly my favorite season. Thus, I am happy to share with you the 7 best autumn foods in Japan.
1. Pacific Saury (さんま)
Pacific Saury (さんま, sanma) is a kind of fish Japanese people like to eat in autumn because it is very fatty and tasty in this season. People typically broil whole sauries with just salt, squirt a little lemon or yuzu (an Asian citrus fruit), and pour on a bit of soy sauce before enjoying this fatty fish. Broiled sauries are usually served with grated radish. Besides broiling, you can also enjoy raw sauries (sashimi) if you can get fresh ones.
2. Matsutake Mushrooms (まつたけ)
Matsutake mushroom (まつたけ, matsutake) is called the “King of Autumn Foods” because of its fragrant smell and rich taste, and because of its price (a piece of domestically-produced Matsutake mushroom can cost around $100!). Since this mushroom cannot be cultivated artificially and cannot be harvested on a regular schedule, it is one of the most luxurious foods in Japan. Many Japanese people like to cook it in flavored rice or soup to enjoy its delicious aroma.
3. Chestnuts (くり)
Chestnuts (くり, kuri) is a popular type of nut in Japan. It is known that Japanese people started eating it more than 5,000 years ago as their staple diet. You can enjoy its rich, sweet taste just by boiling it with salt or soy sauce and cooking wine. Furthermore, chestnuts are commonly used to make sumptuous confections such as cakes and Yokan (a thick, jellied red bean dessert).
4. Persimmons (柿)
Persimmon (柿, kaki) is a fruit Japanese people enjoy eating mainly in autumn. There are two kinds of persimmons: one is sweet, and the other is sour, which is usually used to make dried persimmons. The sweet one can be eaten fresh and can also used as an ingredient for making desserts like jelly, Yokan, and more.
5. Apples (りんご)
Apples (りんご, ringo) are known as “fruits of autumn” in Japan as well as persimmons because their season is from October to December there. Some Japanese people enjoy apple picking on weekends in this season. As you know, besides being eaten fresh, apples can be made into very good juice, jam, pie, wine, and even vinegar!
6. Sweet Potatoes (さつまいも)
It can be said that roasted sweet potatoes (さつまいも, satsuma-imo) remind Japanese people of autumn. Street vendors pulling carts and selling roasted potatoes are a staple of autumn in Japan. Also Japanese people like confections made of sweet potatoes such as Yokan, cake, and candied sweet potatoes (daigaku-imo).
Street vendor selling roasted sweet potatoes
Candied Sweet Potatoes (大学芋)
7. Asian Pears (梨)
Asian Pears (梨, nashi) originated in China and Japan, and usually resemble an apple in shape. They have yellow, brown, or green skin, and are crispy and juicy. Asian pear picking is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Japan as well as apple picking. This fruit is mainly eaten fresh, but is sometimes used to make jelly or tart.
October’s theme is “食欲の秋” (shokuyoku no aki), which means autumn is full of wonderful foods. For this box, we curated several tasty snacks made of autumn foods such as persimmons, Asian pears, and apples. These seasonal snacks have a rich smell and taste, which should hopefully increase your appetite.