Japan Data

Yamagata Is Japan’s Biggest Spending City on Ramen

Food and Drink

A Japanese survey found that Yamagata was the major city with the highest annual spending per household on ramen, while Hamamatsu came top for gyōza.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications recently announced the results of a 2023 survey on household spending. It revealed that, among the prefectural capitals and designated cities, the top annual spending per household (two or more people) for was Yamagata, Yamagata Prefecture, with ¥17,593 and for gyōza dumplings, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, came first with ¥4,041. This was the second consecutive year Yamagata had ranked highest, while Hamamatsu, which placed third last year, regained top spot after a three-year gap.

Spending on Ramen per Household by City

In the case of ramen, the survey focused on different types of Chinese noodles (including ramen and yakisoba (fried noodles)) people bought when eating out. Second place went to Niigata (¥15,224) and in third was Sendai (¥13,074). Yamagata had held top position for eight years from 2013, before losing to Niigata in 2021, but then claimed first place again in 2022. In this time’s survey, Toyama, renowned for its “black ramen,” which uses dark soy sauce and black pepper to create a pitch-black soup, jumped up to fifth place from eleventh the previous year.

According to Yamagata, the amount of spending on ramen of ¥17,593 in 2023 was the highest since records began being kept in 2000. The fact that the city is the birthplace of the popular summer dish hiyashi ramen (“chilled ramen”), and that consumption was not even swayed by the heatwave in 2023, most likely contributed to this. After it dropped from number one, ramen shop owners in the city, intent on increasing consumption, created a committee to establish Yamagata as a mecca for ramen and introduced other initiatives, such as naming February 8 as the city’s Ramen Day.

Hamamatsu gyoza. (Courtesy of Hamamatsu & Lake Hamana Tourism Bureau)
Hamamatsu gyoza. (Courtesy of Hamamatsu & Lake Hamana Tourism Bureau)

Meanwhile, for gyōza, the survey focused on purchases of fresh and cooked dumplings at supermarkets and other stores. The city of Miyazaki won twice in a row in 2021 and 2022, but with spending at ¥3,498 in 2023, it fell to second place, while Utsunomiya came third. Over the years, Hamamatsu and Utsunomiya have been competing against each other for the top place, but in 2021, Miyazaki beat them both, coming highest for the first time, and it has been a three-way battle ever since.

Spending on Gyōza per Household by City

Hamamatsu gyōza are typically arranged in a circle and steam-fried, and then served with bean sprouts in the center. Cabbage, hakusai (Chinese cabbage), and many other vegetables are used as filling, giving it a light texture that makes it easy to eat a lot of , according to the city. The mayor Nakano Yusuke commented that the city wanted to keep promoting gyōza culture, with the hope it will contribute to regional revitalization.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: A serving of ramen at a shop in Yamagata, Yamagata Prefecture. © Kyōdō)

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