Traditional street hawkers in Japan offer things like okonomiyaki, yakisoba, takoyaki, taiyaki, and yakitori, but the BEST for a light snack on the go is DANGO.
What is Dango?
Over time, many variations of Dango have emerged. They can be sweet, served cold with red beans on them (like the picture below)...
...or they can be savory, like the kind you will find being sold out of a food truck or a street vendor's stand.
The basic types of Dango you are likely to find from a street vendor are pictured and explained below:
Shoyu Dango: Dango that is dipped in soy sauce (or a soy sauce-derived marinade). It is savory, but with a slight sweetness to it. This is the old standard, and you can't go wrong with it.
Isobe Dango: Dango that is wrapped in seaweed. The seaweed gives it a bit of umami flavor, but you will definitely want to avoid this if you are not a fan of seaweed.
Anko Dango: Definitely the sweetest of the options, Anko Dango has red bean paste spread across the mochi dumplings. It is still served hot, which make this a perfect sweet treat on a cold day. If it's warm, I recommend the cold-serve Anko Dango (pictured above) that you can find in convenience stores and supermarkets.
Kinoko Dango: For the slightly more adventurous, Kinoko Dango is Dango that is coated in dried, powdered mushrooms.
Among the many great things about Dango is that each stick will only run you about 100 yen. When you buy dango, it's best to eat it hot--the colder it gets, the chewier the mochi will become. Also, don't underestimate how filling these can be. One or two sticks worth is usually more than enough to tide the average traveler over to the next meal (although you may need a couple extra in case you have a greedy travel companion like mine!).