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What Real Japan Matsuris In Hokkaido Look Like

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Japan does food festivals right, from grilled shellfish to free-flow wine and beef

Yes, you read that right: Free flow of Japanese wine and beef. Japanese matsuri, or festivals, are definitely worth travelling for. They can range from a simple but delicious street fair serving all kinds of seafood, to a full-fledged affair complete with a whole-cow grill and popular J-indie acts.

In East Hokkaido, we discovered two such events that blow other concepts of Japan matsuri you may have out of the water. Here’s where to find them.

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Akkeshi Oyster Festival

An annual affair that runs for 10 days in October, the Akkeshi Oyster Festival brings in fishermen and cooks from around East Hokkaido to hawk all manners of fresh shellfish, from oysters to king crab.

Raw, sashimi-style seafood is only available during the first days of the festival. For the rest of the fair, vendors will grill your selection on the spot. There are also assorted sweet shops, such as chocolate-coated bananas on sticks.

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Pick a stall, settle at a table under the tent and place your order. We had fired oysters at three for just 700 yen (about $8.50), Asari clam soup, as well as grilled sea urchin and king crab legs.

Nearest airport: Kushiro Airport

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