Come hungry for this list of the most delicious things to eat in the most palate-pleasing prefectures of Japan.

Japan takes a lot of pride in its cuisine, and not just on a national level. Different parts of the country have earned reputations for making certain dishes or producing certain ingredients better than anywhere else, with such recognition becoming an intangible badge of honor for locals and source of envy among travelers.

But which part of Japan is the best to eat in? To try to find out, finance and economics website Diamond Online polled its users, asking which prefectures have the most delicious food. A total of 30,024 responses were collected from participants aged 20 to 79, so let’s take a look at the top five, and also fill in a missing piece on information by giving you SoraNews24’s recommendations for what to eat in those prefectures.

5. Kyoto

As a stronghold of numerous facets of traditional Japanese culture, it’s no surprise to see Kyoto make the list. The type of food most commonly associated with the area is kaiseki ryori, elaborate multi-course meals often eaten at the ryokan (Japanese inn) the diners are staying at, but if you want to go a little simpler, Kyoto is also known for yudofu (tofu hot pot made with bonito stock) and nishin soba (soba noodles with herring).

▼ Yudofu

Oh, and don’t forget to save room for dessert, since Kyoto Prefecture is where you’ll find the town of Uji, which produces some of the best green tea in Japan, and so some of the best matcha sweets too.

4. Niigata

Niigata’s inclusion on the list is a bit of a head-scratcher, since there isn’t really any specific dish that’s associated with Niigata that really gets most people’s mouths watering, though hegi soba, the local version of buckwheat noodles which are made funori seaweed, is tasty enough.

What Niigata does have, though, is rice. Niigata-grown Koshihikari rice is often said to be the most delicious variety in Japan, and with rice being a major component of so many Japanese meals, Niigata’s great grains seem to have powered it into the number-four spot.

Niigata may also have scored a few extra points in the survey because thanks to its rice and clean water supply, the prefecture is also known for its excellent sake breweries. Granted, sake is a beverage, and so it’s not entirely in keeping with the survey’s question of “Which prefecture has delicious food?”, but considering how much better even ordinary food tastes after a strong drink or two, maybe Niigata’s sake leaves diners feeling extra satisfied at the end of their meals.

3. Osaka

On the other hand, it’s easy to come up with specific food recommendations for Osaka, starting with okonomiyaki, a pancake-like omelet made with cabbage, pork, and whatever other vegetables, meats, or seafood you want to toss in. For a less substantial taste of Osaka cuisine, there’s takoyaki, bite-sized octopus dumplings you eat with a toothpick and are so good that they’re even featured in the Michelin dining guide.

2. Fukuoka

The largest city on the southwestern island of Kyushu, Fukuoka’s biggest edible claim to fame is its ramen. Fukuoka City in particular is known among ramen fans as the best place to get tonkotsu (pork stock) ramen, which in Fukuoka uses thin, chewy noodles that retain a connection with ramen’s Chinese roots. Pair it with some hitokuchi gyoza, Fukuoka’s bite-sized take on pork dumplings, and you’ve got a great meal, or if you’re feeling more adventurous you can seek out some mentaiko, spicy cod roe, which is great on rice.

1. Hokkaido

As an island nation, Japan has always loved seafood, and the northern island of Hokkaido, surrounded by cold waters, is widely considered to be the best place for crab, salmon, and uni (sea urchin).

▼ Just some of the wonders of the seafood market in Sapporo, Hokkaido’s capital city

Hokkaido scallops and ikura (salmon roe) are also highly prized, but even the dry land of Hokkaido boasts plenty of regional delicacies, thanks to its abundant farmland and spacious ranches. Pork rice bowls seasoned with a sweet glaze, ramen with miso broth, corn and potatoes from the fields, and ice cream and cheese from Japan’s number-one dairy-producing prefecture are all basically national treasures in the eyes of Japanese foodies.

▼ Pork bowl in Tokachi, Hokkaido’s most famous pork producing region

All that variety makes it hard to argue with Hokkaido taking the top spot on the list, and also hard to hear anything other than the rumbling of our stomachs.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News/Diamond Online via Otakomu
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Wikipedia/663highland, Wikipedia/Pastern, Pakutaso (1, 2, 3), Wikipedia/毒島みるく, Pakutaso (4)
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where his personal list of best prefectures to eat in would also include Hiroshima and Aichi.