Kaisen-don, seafood on a bed of rice (Photo: 挪威 企鵝 / CC BY-SA 2.0)
Kaisen-don, seafood on a bed of rice (Photo: 挪威 企鵝 / CC BY-SA 2.0)
- 2 min read

Regional Cuisine - Hokkaido

A taste of Japan's northernmost prefecture


If there is an area in Japan that is blessed with quality food, it must surely be Hokkaido. Japan's northernmost prefecture is a region unto itself and its ocean borders and massive agricultural sector literally produces the bulk of the country's foodstuffs. Utterly fresh seafood, amazingly rich dairy produce, meats, fruits and vegetables, Hokkaido is a proper food lover's paradise. Dishes abound but here is a quick look at just some of the local foods of Hokkaido.


Surrounded by waters teeming with life, almost any seafood eaten in Hokkaido can be treated as a gift from heaven. The region's kaisen-don, seafood on a bed of rice, puts the rest of the country to shame. There is no competition. People actually move to Hokkaido because of it. Any seafood will do but crab and sea urchin are particularly popular toppings here.

Kaisen-don, seafood on a bed of rice
Kaisen-don, seafood on a bed of rice (Photo: Richard, enjoy my life! / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Sapporo ramen

For many, Sapporo ramen is the number one ramen in the country. Hearty in the extreme, a bowl of soup broth made up of a pork and vegetable miso-based soup with firm noodles will usually feature a topping of corn kernels and a small cube of butter. The sweetness of the corn, the richness of the butter and the umami-imbued miso are a flavour combination that ticks all of the boxes.

Sapporo ramen
Sapporo ramen (Photo: Kanesue / CC BY 2.0)


A favourite local dish, the meaty jingisukan is the Japanese pronunciation of Genghis Khan. Hearty and with a touch of the wild, theories abound as to why the ancient Mongolian ruler should have a dish named after him. Whatever the reason, the succulent portions of mutton grilled on a convex pan are simply out of this world.

Jingisukan, grilled mutton
Jingisukan, grilled mutton (Photo: bryan... / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Ika meshi

A favourite of ekiben train station lunch boxes, ika-meshi are a Hakodate speciality made up of gutted and cleaned squid stuffed with rice, mountain vegetables and other agricultural delights. Found all around Hokkaido, the stuffings will usually feature local ingredients sourced from the area they are sold in.

Ika meshi, stuffed squid
Ika meshi, stuffed squid (Photo: Alpha / CC BY-SA 2.0)


Join the discussion

Elizabeth S 3 years ago
Sapporo ramen!

Down here in suburban Chiba Prefecture, there’s a ramen shop with branches in Matsudo and Kashiwa, Himuro, that serves this and spicy specialties. It’s a local favorite.
Sleiman Azizi Author 3 years ago
It seems to be a battle between Hakata and Sapporo ramen styles for national supremacy...
Sander van Werkhoven 3 years ago
The first (and probably only) prefecture of which I've tried the whole list! Jingisukan is my favorite of these, followed by a good bowl of batakon ramen.

If you want great food, Hokkaido truly is a food-lovers Walhalla. And besides these dishes there's so much more to enjoy. Soup curry in Sapporo, Asahikawa ramen, Abashiri zangi donburi, butadon in Obihiro, king crab (or basically anything seafood), Yubari melon. And for something completely different: Lucky Pierrot burgers in Hakodate...

It just makes me realize it's been way too long since my last visit to Hokkaido :-(
Sleiman Azizi Author 3 years ago
Surely creating a Hokkaido food tour would be a winner.
Elena Lisina 3 years ago
My choice is kaisen-don, please! :D
Sleiman Azizi Author 3 years ago
Me too!
Kim 3 years ago
So much good quality stuff here!
Kim 3 years ago
For sure...great food, amazing nature...hard to pass it up!
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