Since 2014, a brouhaha of burger masters and their foodie fans have gathered in Koori town, Fukushima Prefecture to decide the best burger in East Japan—often by eating as many burgers as humanly possible! It all started as a fun way to help East Japan revitalize through tourism and in spirit after being struck by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
Loosen that belt because this early autumn event happening in October is getting bigger every year. 2016 marked a record attendance of 23,000 visitors. The rainy weather in 2017 caused a drop in attendance, but those who made it out saw the number of burgers exhibited swell to over 30 varieties! What kind of burgers are there? Seemingly everything. Take the local Koori town burger, for example. It features a Japanese pork patty, local stir-fried veggies with a spicy miso sesame sauce and buns made out of Koori rice flour. Using mostly local ingredients seems to be an unwritten rule. The Namahage Burger from Akita is a beautiful miniature tower of local black cow wagyu, high quality egg and fresh lettuce, perfect for a monster appetite. Lamb and deer meat can also be hunted down at other burger booths.
Some creations are obviously the work of mad food scientists. Fukaura town from Aomori Prefecture serves up a fried tuna patty, covered in a secret carrot and tomato sauce, layered with veggies and topped with gooey cheese. Another burger features a black bun made with cocoa. Meanwhile, a burger stuffed with natto can be found scaring away some overseas visitors. Ono town in Fukushima has dominated the burger competition for their must-try ice cream burger! Tracing its origins back 30 years, the hot-off-the-grill rice buns are packed with cool vanilla ice cream with your choice of blueberry or chocolate sauce. The hot/soft buns, cold/creamy vanilla, with sprinkled on crunchy nuts make for an irresistible taste and texture! Will it conquer the competition again this year?
You'll receive a vote slip which doubles as a raffle ticket for each burger you purchase (350-800 yen, avg. 550yen). Vote for your favorite burger and you could win prizes, such as local sake.
In addition to the burgers, ongoing performances, children activities, community booths, and even more food vendors create a fun festival setting. Outdoor tent seating and indoor seating in the gymnasium are available. Koori town can be accessed train from Sendai city, Miyagi Pref. in 70mins via the Tohoku Honsen line, or 13min from Fukushima city on the Honsen line. Event day offers a shuttle service, otherwise a 20min walk to Fureai Park can help burn some of those calories.
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Justin Velgus (ジャスティン ベルガス) is a long-term resident and promoter in the Tohoku region. He has been a content producer for JapanTravel.com since 2012 and was the Miyagi Prefecture Regional Partner 2013-2015. Justin’s over 300 published travel and culture articles come from a background of studying in Akita, teaching English in Miyagi through the JET Program, and working for the government in Fukushima. He lives in the gyutan capital of the world, Sendai. Justin is an expert in local culture and history. He was the first foreign volunteer at Sendai City Museum and regularly advises the local volunteer guide group GOZAIN , which he is a veteran member, on guiding techniques and hidden locations in the city even locals don't know about. In his free time he enjoys delivering original walking tours, such as his Dark Sendai Tour (ghost tour) or Kokubuncho Mystery Tour (redlight district tour). Justin is also a Certified Sake Professional.