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

“ Highlights of Tokyo ”

Excellent
32 minutes ago Traveler: Ken -   Tour Guide: Keiko

Despite the heavy rains at times, Keiko gave us a tremendous tour of some of the highlights of Tokyo on our 8 hour day with her. She had delightful insights into ll the places we visited and was determined that we were going to have a good time despite the weather. We were very pleased and highly recommend Keiko for her energy and expertise. Ken and Terry Thorsen
read more

“ Wonderful experience ”

Excellent
10 hours ago Traveler: Huong -   Tour Guide: Dai

Mr. Dai is very professional, knowledgeable, friendly and flexible. My family was very thankful for his service.
read more

“ Great English , Great Guide ”

Excellent
11 hours ago Traveler: Kris -   Tour Guide: Atsuko

Atsuko is very patient and knowledgeable. She adapted to our group throughout the day. We had two kids and two seniors so we were slower than some groups. Highly recommended. I would hire her again without hesitation. Great guide!
read more

“ Excellent Tokyo highlights tour ”

Excellent
11 hours ago Traveler: Stacy -   Tour Guide: Yumi

Yumi is a wonderful and knowledgeable guide! It was my family’s first time to Tokyo. Without Yumi’s help , navigating Tokyo with children would have been difficult . She catered the tour to the varying ages in our group (from 7-81 yrs) with ease and was still able to cover quite a lot of sites ! Thank you Yumi and hope to meet with you again soon! P.S Thanks for making me try the horse sash...
read more

“ A fantastic, information-filled day of fun with Yuo ”

Excellent
13 hours ago Traveler: Sarah -   Tour Guide: Yuko

Yuko is an exceptional guide. Her planning and care are meticulous. She came to our hotel a day early to drop off information and instructions for meeting her in our hotel lobby the next day. The sights seen and the tastes enjoyed with Yuko will become long-time memories. They included: the skilled preparation of a giant tuna for sushi; the many delicious seafood stalls with giant oysters, crabs a...
read more

“ Yanesen area, Nij?bashi, Nezu Shrine ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Patricia -   Tour Guide: Dai

Dai was great! He's an excellent guide who knows a lot about Tokyo (and the Metro system at the back of his hand). He worked with our group to combine a day that combined the VERY different interests of its members. I especially liked how he introduced Nezu Shrine as an historical place, but also as a living place of worship.
read more

“ Amazing guide for our family ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Nick -   Tour Guide: Eiko

Please book Eiko as a guide. She is warm, friendly and very knowledgeable. She comes prepared with a full itinerary and hits all the things you want to do. We highly recommend Eiko, would book her again for our next trip and will miss her. Thank you Eiko!!
read more

“ Unique and totally customized tour for our anime obsessed granddaughter ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Betty -   Tour Guide: MAYUMI

Mayumi is the best private guide we have ever met. She went overboard to accommodate all the wishes of our granddaughter, Sarah, who choose the trip to Japan as her high school graduation gift from us. Sarah had a long list of places she wanted to see and do, which for the most part are all related to historical related places and shrines, etc. She is obsessed with amine and all the samurai charac...
read more

“ 1/2 Tokyo highlights tour ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Cindy -   Tour Guide: Nobu

Had a great afternoon with Nobu at a very last minute booking. He took us to the most popular Tokyo attractions and was very helpful showing us how the trains worked and with our Shinkansen bookings. Very informative about the city and easy to get on with.
read more

“ Great Tour ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Indah -   Tour Guide: Toshihiro

We hired Toshihiro-san for one day tour. He showed us the highlights of Tokyo and how to get around Tokyo. He was very informative and helpful and we managed to fit everything we wanted to do in to our day! It was a lot of fun and we would highly recommend him to anyone travelling to Tokyo.
read more

Related cities

Plan your trip to Tokyo

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