NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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屋台 Yatai Yatai: Streetside Stalls in Fukuoka

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At night in Nagahama, lines of some 200 yatai form here and along the Naka River in Nakasu, Tenjin, in Fukuoka.

Yatai such as these first appeared in the mid-Edo period, when politics were stable. As the economy developed, eating out became more common and in big cities, restaurants, selling sushi for example, set up covered stands in front of their premises to sell food to passers-by.

Then, because stands could be moved to places with large crowds, wheeled-stands were used to take the food to where the business was. Customers ranged from merchants, craftsmen, low-class samurais to tramps, and stalls were very casual places to eat in--just  like today's fast-food restaurants.

Fukuoka yatai offer many kinds of foods, such as Chinese noodles in soup, 'oden', grilled chicken on skewers, meat roasted on a hot plate, and fritters. In Tokyo, stalls have the image of more down-at-heel off-street business, but in Fukuoka, many stalls compete with each other and are stars of food culture here.
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