Kid-Foodie Japan: A Taste of the Satsuma-imo

After a long day at the museum we somehow found ourselves blocking a line of people standing in front of a small make-shift food truck.


As we apologized and scooted to the side we watched as they purchased piping hot, roasted sweet potatoes! Just watching them peel away the soft skin of the potato made my mouth drool.



The Japanese love eating roasted, sweet potatoes, also know as the satsuma-imo. It is similar to a regular sweet potato, high in antioxidants, and healthier than a white potato. We learned that the difference between an American sweet potato and its Japanese counterpart is that satsuma-imos tend to have lighter coloring, softer flesh and their flavor profile is mild in comparison.

Here’s a great read on the history of Japanese sweet potatoes in Japan’s culture.

Freshly made sweet potato and apple pie!

This was the first time we eaten roasted sweet potatoes in Japan. In fact, shortly after leaving the museum we found another store in the train station selling not only roasted sweet potatoes, but sweet potato and apple pie!


We couldn’t help ourselves and bought the whole pie and proceeded to eat it on the train on our way back to the hotel.


LouLou said it was one of the best pies she’s ever eaten…but then again every dessert you eat in Japan tastes like heaven.


Thankfully, finding roasted sweet potatoes in Japan is very easy. They are sold practially everywhere, you just need to keep an eye out. We found that the best fresh, roasted sweet potatoes are the ones you buy from the yaki-imo trucks, like the one we saw parked outside the museum. You’ll usually spot them in small neighborhoods shouting YAKIIMO!

In Japan, the local satsuma-imo is a seasonal item, making its debut in the Fall, though nowadays you can get them throughout the year.


The satsuma-imo is much healthier than your average Idaho white potato, which tends to be higher in carbohydrates. Because of its sweet-soft texture, kids love eating them!

Have you tried a Japanese satsuma-imo before? How did you like it – let us know in the comments below!


More from our kid-friendly Japan series:

1 thought on “Kid-Foodie Japan: A Taste of the Satsuma-imo”

  1. They look delicious!

    I ate something on a train once in a Japan and everybody looked at me like I was insane. Apparently it is a big no-no to eat on a train in Japan.

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