Tokyo's Top Themed Restaurants - Traditional Akita Dining at Namahage

by TripleLights travel specialist

When it comes to wining and dining, one thing Tokyo is well known for is its themed restaurants. Wether it be locked in a dungeon cell enjoying some one-of-a-kind cocktails, or sitting cautiously at a table not knowing when a sneaky little ninja might pop out from anywhere, Tokyo's themed restaurants are as much about the entertainment as they are about the food. Just recently, we got the chance to visit one of Tokyo's coolest themed restaurants ourselves - Namahage Akita dining restaurant in Ginza.

 

The Feel

 

Namahage is a themed restaurant based around the food and culture of Akita prefecture, which is located near the northern tip of Honshu (the main island of Japan). Just walking in to the restaurant makes you feel as though you have been time-warped back to ancient Japan, and much of the restaurant's decor and atmosphere has a distinct "folklore" feel to it. The bar is nicely set up, with a large selection of Akita nihonshu (日本酒-Japanese liquor) and beautifully lit lanterns to strengthen the relaxing mood of the restaurant. The tables themselves are also very inviting. You can choose to relax with your shoes off at one of the many low tables, or if you are with a group, you can also try dining in one of the restaurant's round huts, which resemble the traditional snow huts of Akita prefecture.

 

The Food

Tokyo's Top Themed Restaurants - Traditional Akita Dining at Namahage

The menu offers a variety of traditional Japanese cuisine based off local dishes from Akita prefecture. We had a nice sampling of the menu during our visit, as explained below:

 

1. Kiritanpo きりたんぽ

 

Kiritanpo is a traditional Akita dish that is made by mushing cooked rice and wrapping this around a cedar stick. The stick is then roasted on a grill or over open flame. You can have kiritanpo right on the stick with sweet miso sauce, or you can choose to have it in a hot pot. We opted for the hot-pot, which was served alongside a number of Japanese greens. The kiritanpo itself was soft and scrumptious, while the broth was nice and light. Although we were there during the scorching heat of July, this would be an excellent comfort food to try in the winter months!

 

2. Hinajidori Tsukune Yaki 比内地鶏つくねやき

 

Hinaijidori is a special breed of chicken local to Akita prefecture. It is known around Japan for its rich flavour and freshness. In fact, it is so fresh that it is also served raw at some specialty restaurants. We tried this famous hinajidori in a traditional Japanese style called tsukune-yaki. Basically, the chicken is first minced and mashed, then roasted on a cedar stick. After its cooked, the chicken can be dipped in raw egg and eaten right off the stick. It was one of my favourites of all the dishes we tried, having a juicy texture and an extraordinary rich flavour.

 

3. Iburigakko いぶりがっこ

 

Iburigakko literally means "smoked and pickled". While pickling vegetables is common throughout Japan, Akita is unique in that it smokes vegetables before they are pickled. Typically, Iburigakko is made from radish, which is what we tried at Namahage. For me, it was the perfect side dish, with a nice smoky flavour and an incredibly crisp texture. My wife seemed to like this too, as when I was away talking with one of the waiters, I came back to realize more than half the plate had been gobbled up!

 

4. Hatahata Sagohachi ハタハタ三五八

 

Hatahata is a type of fish that is very popular in Akita prefecture. Sagohachi is the method in which they pickle this fish. Actually, the sagohachi (literally "3-5-8") method of pickling is one of the oldest food preservation methods in Japan, and is made from a base of 3 parts salt, 5 parts malted rice (koji), and 8 parts uncooked rice. Our hatahata sagohachi was grilled and served to us with fresh lemon and apricot. The fish itself had a strong pickled taste, which was nicely complimented by the sweet apricot.

 

 

The Entertainment

 

The word, Namahage, is actually a demon-like being in Japanese folklore. They are typically portrayed by men wearing large ogre masks and straw capes. In Akita prefecture, there is a custom each New Year's Eve which involves the Namahage. During this time, men dressed up as Namahage go door to door and visit homes of the locals. There, they try and scare any children who may have been misbehaving or acting lazy, by grunting and yelling things like "Lazy boy!" or "Are there any cry babies here?" Originally, the purpose of the visits was to teach bad children a lesson so that they may behave better in the coming year. At Namahage restaurant in Ginza, we too got a scolding, as we were approached by the frightfully dressed men in Namahage costumes. Wether you are old or young, its just another part of the entertainment that you can enjoy when you visit Namahage.

 

If you would like to try Namahage for yourself the next time you visit Tokyo, here are a few links to their website and location info:

 

English: http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g078501/lang/en/

Japanese: http://www.akita-namahage.jp/ginza/

 

 

Did you like my article?

If you are interested to know more and save your time during your trip to Tokyo, You can send a message to our local guides to get a customized itinerary and quotation for an unforgettable experience.

In the TripleLights website you can find the best professional guides all over Japan to help you plan your trip. Check our local guides for Tokyo


05 Aug 2014

Plan your trip to Tokyo

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started

Recent Tour Reviews in Tokyo

“ excellent ”

Excellent
2 hours ago Traveler: Sunny -   Tour Guide: Junichi

Strongly recommend Junichi to your guide. Very flexible and helpful during our tours.
read more

“ Excellent, knowledgeable guide ”

Excellent
2 hours ago Traveler: Vladimir -   Tour Guide: Aki

Aki was our guide for 3 days. He knows very well Tokyo and is able to guide through the main touristic attractions, as well as through places out of beaten path. One of his strong points is the ability to adjust an itinerary at short notice based on weather and tourists requests. His IPAD contains interesting information and pictures on various itineraries including historical information. We ...
read more

“ Perfect guide for our family of 4 ”

Excellent
8 hours ago Traveler: Kate -   Tour Guide: Eiko

We’ve just spent 2 wonderful days with Eiko (pronounced “A-co”). Eiko is super friendly, outgoing and fun, and also patient and flexible. We are a family of 4 with 2 daughters aged 9 and 10. We spent 1 day on the east side of Tokyo and 1 day on the west side. Eiko met us at our hotel each morning and navigated us through the city with ease - allowing my husband and I to relax and have fun, rather ...
read more

“ Marcus has great patience!! ”

Very Good
9 hours ago Traveler: Vinay -   Tour Guide: Marcus

He has great patience and always smiling. He was Super cool with kids and accommodated all our requests in the short span of time we had in Tokyo city.
read more

“ Excellent guided tour of Tokyo with Marcus ”

Excellent
9 hours ago Traveler: Kathleen -   Tour Guide: Marcus

Marcus was an excellent guide. We really enjoyed our day with him. He gave us lots of options for places to go and see.He offered many insights to Japan, its customs and day to day life. We recommend him without reservation.
read more

“ Tokyo walking day tour ”

Excellent
10 hours ago Traveler: Alfredo -   Tour Guide: AKIRA

Akira was very accommodating and was able to make real-time adjustments to the tour based on our needs. We had an excellent time seeing multiple hotspots in Tokyo. We was also very responsive to messages beforehand. Thank you!
read more

“ An amazing day! ”

Excellent
12 hours ago Traveler: Ann -   Tour Guide: Marcus

Marcus is informative, well organised - excellent at his job. He is also a very nice person who goes out of his way to make sure you see a very varied picture of Tokio. I loved every minute of his tour!
read more

“ Sushi making experience ”

Excellent
13 hours ago Traveler: Ron -   Tour Guide: Masako

We had such an incredible, delightful, and delicious day making sushi in Masako’s home. Thank you Masako for making memories with us to last a lifetime. The sushi was amazing and fresh. Now we can make our own at home and remember our training from Masako. I would recommend this to everyone!!!
read more

“ Thank Goodness for Junko ”

Excellent
16 hours ago Traveler: Teri -   Tour Guide: Junko

So glad we had Junko starting our first day in Tokyo! Despite reading so much about Tokyo and having google maps to help me, I know our family of four would have gotten lost now if we didn’t hire Junko. Junko helped us with subways, stopping over at a beautiful park going from first destination to the next and made our first day so much nicer. She also helped me plan out which places to visit tha...
read more

“ Friendly, flexible and professional :) ”

Excellent
19 hours ago Traveler: Sophie -   Tour Guide: Yuki

We had a fantastic and fun day with Yuki! He kindly picked us up at the hotel and customized the tour to fit our interests and requests. We really enjoyed the hanami mixed with Japanese history and modern pop culture, topping it of with souvenir shopping - Yuki made every effort to pick the right place to find what we we’re looking for. It felt really sad when we had to part ways, since meeting Yu...
read more

Related cities

Plan your trip to Tokyo

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started