This study aims to examine the extent to which a region's food heritage and its themed food festival have been staged for successful community development in the Japanese context, from a festival tourism development perspective. Under examination is the case study of the Tatebayashi Noodle Grand Prix festival, an annual food festival that has been hosted by the city of Tatebayashi in Gunma prefecture, Japan, since 2011. The results indicate that distinctive and unique regional food and foodways as intangible cultural heritage have become an invaluable source of regional festival tourism development. The festival itself serves as a platform from which local communities have (re)negotiated and retained their regional and cultural identities associated with their heritage and history of udon noodle production. It is also regarded as showcasing an enhanced sense of belonging and community pride. Of particular note is the voluntary participation of younger generations of the community, for whom the festival played a vital role in their self-education to better understand their roots, identities and traditions that should be preserved and continued throughout the generations. It also provided an opportunity for them to celebrate and support the traditions and practices associated with their cultural food heritage which was in danger of being lost.