Japanese Fall specialities 秋の味覚
When persimmon, pumpkin and sweet potato are on the menu...
Renowned for its landscapes of gold and red, autumn is a beautiful season to discover Japan. Especially food-wise, since fall heralds the arrival of many delicious seasonal products. From matsutake mushrooms and sweet potatoes to persimmons, discover the delicacies that appear from appetiser to dessert throughout the koyo season.
- Matsutake mushrooms
Literally "pine mushrooms", the matsutake is appreciated for the light scent of pine they give off when cooked. They are often cooked in soup or rice and served as an accompaniment to many seasonal dishes.
Discover : Japanese mushrooms
- Sweet potato
Very popular for its soft texture and sweet taste, sweet potato is a staple in Japanese cuisine. And although it is enjoyed throughout the year, in autumn you'll find it as much in seasonal specialties like curry and soup, as well as in some desserts!
The persimmon, called kaki in Japanese, is the autumn fruit par excellence in Japan. Whether eaten alone as-is or accompanying a dessert, it is found on all Japanese tables as the days grow shorter.
In addition to being a popular seasonal vegetable when the weather is getting colder, types of pumpkin are popular in Japan because of the resemblance to the jack-o-lantern, the undisputed hallmark of Halloween around the world! This is why many cafes and restaurants incorporate it into their menus throughout the month of October, whether savory or sweet.
Related : Celebrate Halloween in Tokyo
- Shinmai, new rice
As autumn marks the end of the rice season, the Japanese take the opportunity to eat shinmai, the "new rice". Less firm than usual rice, shinmai is produced only from September to December, before losing its status of "new" rice when the New Year begins. It is customary to consume shinmai with other seasonal products such as ginkgo nuts and matsutake mushrooms.
- Sanma fish
The sanma, or Pacific saury, is a very popular fish in fall on the Japanese archipelago. Much larger and fatter than usual, it has been eaten at this time of year since the Edo period (1603-1868), and is often enjoyed as sashimi as well as grilled or served in sauce.
In Japan, seasonal calendar events tend to mean special menus from major restaurants. And fall doesn't escape this rule, of course! Persimmon cakes, sweet potato lattes and pumpkin cheesecake, many autumnal sweets appear on the dessert buffets of major city hotels at this time of year.
- Grand Hyatt Tokyo
In addition to its special Halloween buffet, the Grand Hyatt offers a koyo dessert buffet until the end of the season. On the menu? Chestnut cream, apple crumble, pumpkin cocktails and more.
Address: Grand Hyatt Tokyo, Roppongi 6-10-3, Minato-ku
Opening hours: 15:00 - 17:00, until 31st October
Price: cocktails from 1,700 yen ($15)
Access: a few minutes walk from Roppongi Station (Hibiya or Oedo line)
- The Peninsula
Every year, the Peninsula Hotel organizes its "autumn afternoon", two hours during which participants are invited to sample a whole array of seasonal desserts such as chocolate fondant cake, pumpkin mousse or sweet potato pudding.
Yurakucho, Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-0006
Opening hours : 14:30 - 17:00, until 30th November
Price : 3,900 yen ($34)
Access: opposite Hibiya station (Hibiya, Chiyoda, Mita lines)
Chain store offerings
Less expensive than the fancy restaurant menus, many of the most popular fast food chains in Japan also offer some seasonal specials! And whether in cafes like Starbucks and Tully's, or in fast food restaurants like Gasuto and McDonald's, many chains offer drinks or desserts with an autumn feel.
- The Creamy Pumpkin Frappuccino at Starbucks
A pumpkin and caramel flavored iced drink: 580 yen for a tall ($5.10).
- The Sankaku Cone
at Tully's Coffee
A dessert with biscuits, chestnut ice cream and pumpkin cream: 750 yen ($6.60).
- The Mixed Berry
Grape Smoothie at McDonald's
A smoothie made with wild berries: from 490 to 530 yen depending on size ($4.30 to $4.70).