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Manpaku 2018: A Foodie’s Paradise

By LISA BUCKLAND

A fun (and filling) way to spend a day in Tokyo | Photo by author

Summer’s arrived and everyone knows what this means in Japan: omatsuri (お祭り) season! Where better to be than Tokyo? Tokyo is known for making a omatsuri for everything. From German Christmas markets to Japanese beer festivals to Aloha Festivals, Tokyo has it all. As a self-professed foodie I regularly scour TimeOut for new food festivals and restaurants in Tokyo, which led me to the Manpaku (まんパク) food festival.

The 8th annual Manpaku festival was held from 17 May to 4 June in Showa Kinen Park (国営昭和記念公園) in Tachikawa, Tokyo. Although it’s a little further out than Yoyogi Park food festivals for example, a 1 hour train ride from Komaba, it’s definitely worth the trip and a nice get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Unlike many other food festivals it doesn’t specialise in one food type or cuisine and with 10 different sections, such as for meat and desserts, there’s something for everyone. The best food festival hack I have is to go in groups; I went with three friends so we could try different foods and even then we weren’t able to try everything we wanted to!

Food hack no.2: Do your research. Although all the food is most likely to be amazing, it’s good to know what to look out for and try some recommended dishes. Before going, I looked up the menu on the official website and the beef cutlet (牛かつ) instantly caught my eye. Additionally, upon arrival I spotted a ranking board of the most popular dishes at the festival so you can seek out the best dishes. We made sure to eat the no.1 ranked dish, the raw fatty beef rice bowl (牛とろ丼) and the tender, sashimi-like texture was definitely worth it.

The food leader board - be sure to try some of the most popular dishes | Photo by author

The no.1 ranked dish raw fatty beef rice bowl (牛とろ丼) (left) and the tender beef cutlet (牛かつ) (right) | Photos by author

If you’re a thrifty university student I’d also advise visiting during the week - most food festivals which charge entry give concessions for weekdays. My friends and I visited on a Friday on a university holiday and saved ¥300 (entry is ¥800 on weekends and ¥500 on weekdays). Also, you’ll beat the crowds of the weekend. Even though it was a Friday it was already quite packed. However, Manpaku caters for the crowds with waiting times listed in front of every stall, like an amusement park for food lovers, telling you how long you can expect to wait for your food. Additionally, the site is designed to seat 6,000 with most seating underneath tents, shielding you from the intense summer sun.

The festival is held annually at Showa Kinen Park and I’ll definitely be visiting Manpaku 2019.