Although Japan lacks ethnic diversity, it seems to more than make up for it in diversity of cuisine. Although the overarching recipes of Japanese foods can be found everywhere, you’d be surprised and how diverse the differences can be from region to region. Having your New Year’s soup in Okayama Prefecture may be quite different from Akita Prefecture’s offering. Even purchasing oden from a chain like 7-Eleven will produce different results if it’s from Osaka or Tokyo.

This is also true of another of Japan’s standard foods: rice balls also known as onigiri or musubi. To taste all the unique variations Japan has to offer, one must be a seasoned traveler, or they could just go to Momochi, a shop which offers a taste of all 47 prefectures straight from the counter. Our own Mr. Sato, eager to taste of these deliciously distinct snacks, visited Momochi to sample one of each.

The following are Momochi’s 47 Prefecture rice balls with a very brief description. Note that the word “pickle” is often used but the various methods of pickling and vegetables used in different parts of Japan is extremely vast so consider each one unique. We also have photos of Mr. Sato posing with each rice ball presented in slide shows for each of Japan’s major regions. If you’d like to get a better idea of what they’re like or if you can get enough of Mr. Sato’s face, please check them out.

▼ Hokkaido & Tohoku area prefectures

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Fukushima – Tara Kanroni
Cod stewed in soy sauce and sugar

▼ Kanto area prefectures

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Gunma – Shimonita Negi Miso
Green onions and miso (fermented soy paste)

▼ Chubu area prefectures

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Yamanashi – Ninjin Meshi

▼ Kansai area prefectures

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▼ Chugoku area prefectures

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Okayama – Sawara
Japanese Spanish mackerel

▼ Shikoku area prefectures

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▼ Kyushu & Okinawa

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■ Couldn’t catch’em all!
Although Mr. Sato set out for nationwide domination of rice balls, his visit to the Momochi had a few setbacks. The store was completely out of Yamanashi’s Ninjin Meshi flavor, and the racks for Gunma’s Shimonita Negi Miso and Fukushima’s Tara Kanroni were both empty at the time of his visit. He could just barely get Fukui’s Sauce Katsu and Okayama’s Sawara. This left his final tally at 44 of the 47 prefectural rice balls. Not a bad haul, but sadly not all of them.

■ Best in show: Salad Pan Omusubi
After happily tasting all of the rice balls, Mr. Sato struggled to determine the best three. In the end he declared Shiga Prefecture’s Salad Pan flavor to be the best. It’s based on a brand of snack bread with mayonnaise and thinly chopped pickled daikon. Although the bread was substituted with rice it still had an excellent blending of tastes and was a neat concept overall. In second place was Aomori’s Tsugarudzuke followed by the Sawara rice ball from Okayama Prefecture. Really though, everyone’s a winner. Well, everyone except…

■ You doing okay over in Ishikawa?
For those who actually read through the entire list, you might have noticed the rice ball of Ishikawa being a little odd. Named Dakidashi Omusubi (or “Soup Kitchen Rice Ball” in English), it is an equally depressing recipe of simply rice and salt. Despite being a bit of a downer, Mr. Sato still thought it was tasty. So, if you want to broaden your culinary horizons in a fast and easy way, Momochi is well worth checking out.

Shop Information
Odakyu Hyakkaten Shinjuku B2F, 1-1-3 Nishi, Shijuku, Tokyo
Weekdays: 10:00am to 8:30pm
Sundays/Holidays: 10:00am to 8:00pm

Original report by Mr. Sato
Photos: RocketNews24

The full list

Hokkaido – Potato Butter

Aomori – Tsugarudzuke
Local brand of herring roe pickled in soy sauce

Iwate – Sabagohan
Mackerel and vegetables

Miyagi – Aburafu
Fried wheat gluten

Akita – Iburigakko
Smoked vegetables such as daikon or carrots

Yamagata – Dashi
Minced and seasoned vegetables (not to be confused with the widely used Japanese soup “dashi”)

Fukushima – Tara Kanroni
Cod stewed in soy sauce and sugar

Ibaraki – Natto Takuan
Fermented soy beans and pickles

Tochigi – Age Gyoza
Fried gyoza

Gunma – Shimonita Negi Miso
Green onions and miso (fermented soy paste)

Saitama – Katemeshi
Grains, vegetables, and seaweed

Chiba – Mezashi
Small fish dried and baked

Tokyo – Asari Tsukudani
Clams boiled in soy sauce

Kanagawa – Shirasu Gohan
Really small and young fish (aka whitebait)

Niigata – Kenkiyaki
Miso grilled with yuzu peels and green onion

Yamanashi – Ninjin Meshi

Nagano – Shinshu Nozawa Nadzuke
Pickles from Nozawa, Nagano

Toyama – Tororo Konbu
Grated yam and kelp

Ishikawa – Dakidashi Omusubi
“Soup Kitchen Musubi” (rice and salt only)

Fukui – Sauce Katsu
Breaded meat cutlet and sauce

Gifu – Akakabudzuke
Pickled red turnip

Shizuoka – Sakuraebi Kakiage
Fried sakura shrimp

Aichi – Ebiten Musu
Shrimp tempura

Mie – Shiso Hijiki

Shiga – Salad Pan
Mayo and finely chopped pickled daikon

Pickled eggplant and shiso

Osaka – Aji Nori Konbu Iri
“Filled with seaweed and kelp taste!”

Hyogo – Ikanago no Kugini
Small fish boiled in soy sauce and sugar until they look like nails

Nara – Naradzuke
Nara style pickles

Wakayama – Kishu Nanko Ume
A regional type of plum

Tottori – Rakkyo
A type of green onion

Shimane – Wakame

Okayama – Sawara
Japanese Spanish mackerel

Hiroshima – Hiroshimana
A leafy green vegetable

Yamaguchi – Kinako
Roasted and powdered soy beans

Tokushima – Fish Katsu Ten
Fish fillet tempura

Kagawa – Iwanori Wasabi
Seaweed and wasabi

Ehime – Jakoten
Fried fish paste

Kochi – Kastuo Shoyudzuke
Dried bonito picked in soy sauce

Fukuoka – Mentaiko
Seasoned cod roe

Saga – Renkon
Lotus root

Nagasaki – Kakuni
Simmered pork

Kumamoto – Takana Itame
Fried mustard leaves

Oita – Tori Karaage
Fried chicken

Miyazaki – Toukibi

Kagoshima – Niwatori Gobo
Chicken and burdock root

Okinawa – Andansu
Miso fried in pork fat