Snacking on Takoyaki at Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo

Japanese snacks at Tokyo's busiest temple

at Senso-ji Temple

Takoyaki (たこ焼き)

Wishing I had an umbrella, I ran through the cold downpour to take shelter beneath the great red gate at Sensoji-Temple in Tokyo's busy Asakusa neighborhood. Even though it was early summer, Japan was still chilly, and I was not prepared for the icy rain that was falling from the dark afternoon sky.

Deciding to wait out what I very dearly hoped would be a short rain storm, I made my way to the temple's street market. It was a normal weekday, but there was a festival atmosphere, and I ordered a small box of takoyaki. I also picked up a cup of Japan's famous ¥230 One Cup Sake, a grab-and-go cup of rice wine rolled out at Tokyo Station for the opening ceremonies of the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo and the launch of the brand-new Bullet Train. It's cheap, sweet, and warming on a cold day. 

Takoyaki, while popular in Tokyo, is a street food which originated in Osaka, Japan's food capital. It is a hearty and savory snack made of wheat flower and grilled pieces of octopus rolled up into a ball and topped with tempura, pickled ginger, green onion, and bonito fish flakes. I ate a box of six takoyaki on the curb beneath the five-tiered pagoda of the temple.

octopus balls (Takoyaki), a popular street food snack in Japan
octopus balls (Takoyaki), a popular street food snack in Japan

Oftentimes, food becomes more special due to the circumstances in which it is enjoyed. On that cold rainy afternoon, I bit into a piece of steaming purple octopus, took a deep drink from my vending machine sake, and warmed up while watching the bustle of a 1000+ year-old Buddhist temple in the heart of one of the world's busiest cities.

Senso-ji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

Street food takoyaki at Senso-ji Temple

Price: ¥600 for six pieces (about $1 per octopus ball)

Location: the street market just outside of Senso-ji Temple in Tokyo, Japan
Asakusa Station, Tokyo

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