The stall is set up in the early evening on pedestrian walkways and removed late at night or in the early morning hours before commuters begin to fill the streets. Menus are usually limited; Japanese cuisine is most common, but Chinese and Western cuisine yatai are not unknown. Beer, sake and shōchū are usually available. A salaryman might relax with colleagues over dinner and drinks at a yatai on his way home from work.
A reference to yatai in the modern sense is found as early as 1710. The word appears in an Edo-period sharebon, a genre of literature revolving around the pleasure quarters. Yatai became popular and widespread in the Meiji period (1868 – 1912) and were a two-wheeled pushcart constructed of wood.
Soba yatai of Edo period (Fukagawa Edo Museum)
Large Yatai in the summer festival (Himeji Yukata Matsuri)
- Murakami, Hyōe; Richie, Donald, eds. (1980). A Hundred More Things Japanese. Tokyo: Japan Culture Institute. pp. 66–67. ISBN 9780870404726. LCCN 81112282. OCLC 7133178.
- "屋台" [Yatai]. Nihon Kokugo Daijiten (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2012. OCLC 56431036. Retrieved 2012-09-05.
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