Gyoda city in Japan is full of food lover delights, and local delicacies just waiting to be explored by hungry travellers. As Gyoda is a city with a lot of history, you can also learn a lot about different Japanese foods enjoyed by the people over time, and the production methods around them too.
It’s very easy to get to Gyoda from Tokyo; it’s just an hour by train. That’s why this city is one of my favourite day trip recommendations for people looking for some food tourism just outside of the capital.
Here are some of my best food tips for a day trip to Gyoda city in Saitama Prefecture
See Gyoda rice field art from the observation deck
In the west you’re taught not to play with your food, but in Japan playing with rice production is a world-renowned activity! Gyoda City is perhaps most famous for its Guinness World Records title of having the largest rice field mosaic anywhere in the world.
With every year the art that the locals make using the rice field planting patterns changes, so you never know what you’re going to see on your visit.
There is a special observation deck for you to get the best view of the incredible art created by a field of rice – it’s at the Kodai Hasu no Sato building. You can actually cycle straight to the observation deck, so I would recommend hiring a bike from the station and cycling straight there.
If you’re lucky enough to be there on a clear day, you get to see the surrounding city and all the other rice fields. It really is a lovely landscape, and I definitely thought that my trip to see it was totally worth it. I was lucky enough to see the rice field art created for the Rugby World Cup 2019 tournament – this was held right across Japan, and it was very exciting to see the fields building up to it.
The designs of the rice fields change with whatever’s going on in popular culture at the time, and they are planted with the efforts of over 1000 people. It’s a real city-wide effort, and a perfect example of Japanese community culture at its best.
Try the local Gyoda dish Jelly Fries
The real foodies will be more than ready to try something very special, and very local. You absolutely must try a local dish called Jelly Fries when you’re making a trip to Gyoda, the city even has a mascot character dedicated to this popular snack.
The Jelly Fries are made from okara (Japanese bean curd), which means it has a gooey and delicious texture. It’s sometimes mixed with vegetables and potatoes, so it is quite a filling snack.
There are many traditional vendors as opposed to the tourist ones – you get a lot more local character and charm when you’re trying your Jelly Fries this way. One I would recommend in particular is called Kanetsukido. This place is run by a team of lovely ladies who make an absolutely incredible batch of jelly fries. They are so friendly and welcoming, and make all tourists feel very much at home while they try this traditional snack.
Trust me, just go and get some. It’s quite similar to the deep-fried croquet you might eat in the Netherlands, except this one is smothered in sweet soy sauce. Yum.
Something else you might want to eat while you’re here in Gyoda is Furai – it goes incredibly well with the jelly fry. You could easily compare it to the famous okonomiyaki dish – which is a savoury omelette pancake sometimes with seafood that Japanese people love to eat on special occasions.
If you’re after a sweet treat to try, get yourself some shaved ice. This is topped with locally-grown strawberry sauce and lashed in layers of cream. It’s definitely an indulgent dessert to finish all of your Gyoda culinary treats off with. This city really is great for walking around and eating great food.
Grab lunch at ANDO for soba noodles
In an old ancient building that once upon a time was a tabi socks warehouse – you can now eat delicious soba noodles and enjoy some buzzing local atmosphere. I would absolutely recommend cycling here on your way to the rice fields, or on the way back if you want to work up an appetite first.
ANDO is a famous local soba noodle restaurant. It’s housed inside a refurbished tabi sock barn, meaning this place is just fizzing with history.
After the renovation, it’s now something of an intimate dining venue. There’s a really excellent menu on offer with well-selected ingredients, one of a kind dishes, and the most delicious soba noodles in town
ANDO does a really good soba noodle set lunch, something to try in this cosy eating venue. The duck and tempura really hit the spot for me, so I would recommend you order that for sure. This restaurant is your perfect stop off on your cycling day tour, great place to refuel and then explore more of Gyoda.
Tasting Jyumangoku manjyu from a traditional cake shop
It’s a long-standing tradition in Japan that businessmen go to one of the many boutique cake shops in town on their way home, and bring home a beautifully decorated sweet treat for their family.
You can experience this local tradition for yourself by exploring the incredibly old shopping street right by Oshi castle. There are so many antiquated houses and shops to explore, you will feel like you’ve stepped back in time to feudal Japan.
You must try the popular snack Jyumangoku manjyu. Buy these from the local cake shops, and get ready to enjoy a particularly nice sweet treat favoured by locals. The best way to describe it is bean paste covered in rice flour. It goes down extremely nicely with a cup of strong bitter green tea, so try to create that experience for yourself if you can.
— Written by Dave Brett
Travelling the world, one adventure at a time. Follow the UK’s leading solo adventure travel blogger, Dave Brett on his travels around the world. An Adventure travel blog that features travel tips and advice, inspirational stories, travel videos and travel photography that will help you inspire and plan your next trip abroad.
sponsored by Gyoda City, Saitama