The Sweet Potato Expo is annual food event in February at Saitama Shintoshin in Saitama City. It is the largest sweet potato fair in all of Japan. Furthermore, it is one of few food events that was not cancelled during the pandemic. Moreover, in 2022, they had a summer version of the expo too, for three days. The main winter expo for 2023 has already been confirmed and it will be on for five days in February.
In 2022, due to the pandemic, they introduced a ticketing system for the event. They allocated tickets not just by date, but by time too. They did not require you buy a ticket in advance. However, due to the popularity of the event, it is usually safer to buy tickets in advance. The event has featured on the TV several times and you just have to look at the photos on the official website to gage just how popular this event is.
Sweet Potatoes Saitama
Saitama is known for its sweet potatoes, particularly the Kawagoe area. Saitama Prefecture was the first place to grow sweet potatoes in Japan after they were brought here to grow during the 18th century. It maybe why this event is extremely popular in Saitama Prefecture.
Sweet Potato Expo
The Sweet Potato Expo is held in the Keyaki Hiroba area, which is close to the train station gates. The main expo in February combines a “summit” and a “grand prix”. Food grand prix are very popular in Japan. During the grand prix at the sweet potato expo customers get to choose the finest sweet potato in all of Japan! Twenty one vendors, from all across Japan, come to promote their sweet potatoes. However, according to the organizers, the summer version is more like a “sweet potato museum” and there are slightly less vendors than the winter version.
Apart from being able to buy and sample sweet potato from all over Japan, there are dozens of different sweet potato dishes to try too. In a “normal” (pre-pandemic year) there are normally stage events and various entertainment scheduled for the period of the expo, but in 2022 the main focus was on the food. In 2023, it looks like they will be reintroducing some events. However, as of January 7th 2023, the finer details are not yet available.
Date: from Wednesday February 22nd to Sunday February 26th 2023.
Hours: from 10 am to 7 pm. In summer, they seperated the day into time slots: 4 x 90 minute, 1 x 2 hour, and 1 x 1 hour slots. We don’t know yet (as of January 7th 2023) if they are operating to this system again in 2023.
Cost: 2023 information not yet available. This was the info for summer 2022 – 500 yen entry plus cost of sweet potato / dishes. The 6 pm to 7 pm slot only cost 300 yen. You could purchase a ticket online that comes with a limited edition original cooler bag, for 1000 yen. The aforementioned premium ticket, which allows you entry into the venue 30 minutes ahead of everyone else, costs 1500 yen.
Keyaki Hiroba Information
Saitama Shintoshin is located beside the station of the same name in the Chuo ward of Saitama City. The Keyaki Hiroba is the closest event space to the ticket gates. The Keihin Tohoku line, Takasaki line and Utsunomiya line stop at this station. There are also several buses that go into the station including airport buses from Narita and Haneda.
Address: 2-27 Kamiochiai, Chuo Ward, Saitama City 338-001
URL: Official Shintoshin website and the official website for “Imohaku” Sweet potato expo – please do always check with the official website for any last minute changes
Access: a two minute walk from JR Saitama shintoshin Station and about a seven minute walk from JR Kitayono Station.