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 due to the pandemic. Moreover, in 2022, they have a summer version of the expo too, for three days. The main February expo is on usually on for four days, but in 2022 it was on for five days and each day was sold out well in advance.
Good news for those who couldn’t get a ticket for the February event – this time, for the summer version, they have improved the system a little bit. This time they will allocate tickets not just to a date, but to a time slot too. This will hopefully enable more people to be able to get in. They do not require you buy a ticket in advance. However, it is usually safer to buy tickets, for popular events like these, in advance. For the summer edition there is also a special “premium” ticket that allows you enter the venue 30 minutes in advance of everyone else, for the morning slot only. Only 50 of these tickets are available each day. See the cost section for more.
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. In February of 2022, they required that tickets were bought in advance so they could crowd control. Despite that, reports on national TV showed that it was still jam packed!
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.
In a “normal” (pre-pandemic year) there are normally stage events and various entertainment scheduled for the period of the expo, but this year the main focus is on the food. 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.
Date: The Summer Sweet Potato Expo is on from Tuesday August 16th to Thursday the 18th
Hours: 10 am to 7 pm, broken down into 4 x 90 minute, 1 x 2 hour, and 1 x 1 hour slots. However, on the last day, Thursday the 18th, the 1 hour slot from 6 to 7 pm is not on.
Cost: 500 yen entry plus cost of sweet potato / dishes. The 6 pm to 7 pm slot only costs 300 yen. You can 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. Ticket break down and links to purchase tickets in advance.
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: 2 minute walk from JR Saitama shintoshin Station, about a 7 minute walk from JR Kitayono Station.