Onigiri rice balls are a favorite lunch box item in Japan and popular picnic food. They’re made by shaping hot salted rice into a ball, cylinder, or triangle shape with an optional wrapping of toasted nori seaweed. Common fillings include salted salmon flakes, ume (pickled plum), and tuna salad.
Korokke are Japanese style potato croquettes, made with a mashed potato mixture that’s shaped into a round or oval patty, breaded with large flaky Japanese panko breadcrumbs, and deep-fried. Apart from the standard Hokkaido potato filling, korokke may also contain a savory cream filling (often crab or chicken) or a mixture of minced meat.
Fried chicken is a quintessential picnic food for many cultures, and Japan is no exception. Japanese-style fried chicken, called “kara-age,” is made with bite-size pieces of chicken marinated in soy sauce and ginger and coated in potato starch before deep-frying. It’s commonly eaten with Japanese mayonnaise and a fresh squeeze of lemon.
Rei-shabu is a cold dish of thinly sliced pork that’s lightly simmered shabu-shabu-style, chilled, and served with a ponzu citrus dressing or sesame sauce (the two main dipping sauces used for shabu shabu). It’s a perfect way to enjoy this delicious winter dish during the heat of summer.
A type of sushi from western Japan, inarizushi consists of fried tofu pouches called “abura-age” stuffed with sushi rice. It keeps well at room temperature because it doesn’t include any raw fish, which makes it an excellent option for picnics.
Iced mugicha is a popular Japanese summertime drink that’s believed to prevent the effects of heat exhaustion. It’s made by steeping roasted barley in water, which results in an unsweetened, non-caffeinated tea-like drink that can be enjoyed by young and old alike as a healthy, refreshing beverage.
Sunomono are Japanese pickles made by dressing vegetables in a light rice vinegar-based vinaigrette. The most common variety is cucumber sunomono, but sunomono can be made with almost any vegetable including daikon (radish), wakame (seaweed), or goya (bitter melon), and even with some non-vegetable items like a sliced octopus.