Let’s go visit another gem in Japan.
This past weekend, I jumped in a car with a bunch of friends and drove up north into the mountainous Tottori Prefecture. It’s not the most famous of places in Japan, but it has a few things going for it like Japan’s largest sand dunes about ten minutes outside of its largest city. It also has the distinction as the lowest population among all of Japan’s prefectures.
We headed further west of the capital city to the ski resort at Daisen, the prefecture’s tallest and most beautiful mountain. At the base of the mountain is Japan’s hotspot for ghost stories and the supernatural, but my party and I were more interested in what was higher up the mountain. An annual hamburger festival was showing off the best hamburgers that the country had to offer.
Local shops from around Japan flock here in mid-October, and they want your vote for the best burger in all of Japan.
Signing up is a simple process. You buy a booklet of coupons for 1,000 yen ($10) at a time, and each hamburger stand charges based on how good they feel their burger is. Some are 8 coupons and others can be as cheap as 4 or 5. Some of the stands ever offer half a burger for a cheaper price, meaning that even with three coupons, you’ll still be able to scrounge something.
After stuffing your face, the voting process occurs. Hamburger stands will provide you with a blue marble when you buy your burger, and each marble counts as a single vote. Obviously, the more burgers you buy, the more votes you get! You can distribute these marbles however you like, dumping them all in your favorite burger or distributing them among across a few.
Pictured below are the top ten winners in order.
And the burgers are all great. My friends and I agreed to only vote for burgers with beef in them, because, to us, anything other than that classified it as a sandwich.
I inhaled six different burgers over the course of the day, and I paid for my stupidity over the course of the week. My favorite was the previous year’s champion, the Neya Burger, which had its own flavoring in the beef and tartar sauce to give it a more sour punch. I also ate a local burger with eggs in the shape of stars and even a burger topped with bamboo! Others ate apple burgers, but it was the mushroom burgers that proved to be the most popular this year. The second and fourth place burgers’ main selling points were the mushrooms they came with.
Excellent experience if you’re ever in western Japan in the month of October. The earlier you arrive the better because the lines can get a bit long. My strategy was to get a burger with no wait and then eat while I waited in line for another burger. Again, it led to six burgers in a day… and that led to stomach cramps all week. Oh boy…