It’s a common sight to see hot dog stands in America. In Singapore, ice cream stands are a lifesaver in the sweltering hot weather. In Japan, however, you’re more likely to find a yaki-imo (roasted sweet potato) stand on the streets, especially during winter. If you’re lucky enough, you might even meet the legendary cat that sells stone roasted sweet potatoes in Kurayoshi City, Tottori Prefecture!
Yaki-imo is a popular Japanese snack, especially during autumn and winter when the weather is cold. There are several ways of preparing yaki-imo; roasting them under a heap of fallen leaves in autumn, grilling them in a over charcoal, or even taking the short way out by cooking it in a microwave, but the method most commonly used by yaki-imo trucks is ishiyaki, which involves roasting the satsumaimo (sweet potato) among heated little stones.
In Kurayoshi City of Tottori Prefecture, there is a ishiyaki-imo seller who is famous for running the business in a furry cat mascot suit. Known as Mikeneko Yamada, this ishiyaki-imo stand is particularly popular among children, for very a obvious reason! It’s a cat selling roasted sweet potatoes! Prices start from 200 yen (US$2) for a small one, to 300 yen (US$3) for a medium-sized sweet potato, and 400 yen (US$4) for a large one.
▼ Mikeneko in business.
▼ Mikeneko on the road.
Mikeneko doesn’t always operate his stand at a fixed location so it might be a little tricky to hunt him down, but he occasionally tweets his location before starting the day, so if you’re determined to meet him, checking his Twitter or Facebook page is your best bet!