Are you planning a trip to Japan? If so, then you must know about the types of food in Japan. Washoku, or traditional Japanese cuisine, is one of the most diverse and fascinating world cuisines. This cuisine, developed over centuries, is now celebrated for its inventiveness, healthiness, and heritage.

There is a large variety of traditional Japanese foods available in the country. When you scratch the surface of authentic Japanese cuisine, you will discover a wide range of dishes you may not have heard of before.

Types of Japanese food


Sushi is the classic Japanese food, with renowned chefs training for decades and going to insane lengths to create the perfect bite. Japanese sushi has its origins in the medieval Tokyo street food culture, with nigiri (a rectangular bed of vinegar-seasoned rice topped with a slice of raw fish) served from stalls and eaten by hand.

Fatty tuna is the gold standard of all the fish on the menu. These melt-in-your-mouth fish are so sought after that the first giant maguro (bluefin tuna) of the year sold for nearly $1.8 million in 2020 at Toyosu Market.


The Japanese will often call this griddle-fried dish a “Japanese savory pancake” or something similar, but that doesn’t quite describe it. Okonomiyaki is a fried egg-and-flour batter filled with cabbage.

Other ingredients can be added based on regional recipes and your personal preferences. Pork belly, kimchi, various vegetables, and a topping of dried bonito fish flakes, mayonnaise, and special okonomiyaki sauce are typical.

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Miso Soup

This thin soup is a firm staple in the Japanese diet, and it can be found on the menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dashi stock and miso, a salty-tasting paste made from fermented soybeans and rice koji, are used to make miso soup.

There are four main types of miso: white miso, red miso, blended miso, and barley miso, as well as dozens of regional varieties, each of which produces a unique soup.


These thick wheat-flour noodles are believed to have arrived in Japan from China around 800 years ago. Udon is now a filling and inexpensive lunch option, usually boiled and served with a simple broth.

Kake udon is made up of just those two ingredients, and while it may appear simple, it actually makes for a filling meal on its own. If you want something with a little more bite, udon shops usually have a variety of toppings like raw egg, tempura bits, and spring onion.


These octopus-filled wheat batter balls are from Osaka, where they were invented in the 1930s by a street vendor. Takoyaki balls are distinguished by the use of a specialized pan with half-sphere indents across its surface.

It takes some skill to flip the batter at the right time to get the perfect ball shape. If you think flipping pancakes is difficult, try doing it twice as fast with chopsticks. Takoyaki is traditionally topped with dried bonito flakes, dried seaweed flakes, and a special takoyaki sauce.


This is one of the oldest dishes on the list, thought to have originated in China over 6000 years ago. However, buckwheat noodles became popular in Japan only during the Edo period. It was discovered that eating soba could prevent nutritional deficiencies because it was much more healthy and more nutritious than many other noodle varieties.

Soba, like udon, is a noodle that you can learn to make in our Handmade Soba Noodles Cooking Class. Freshly made noodles always taste the best.

Once you visit Japan, you will be needing a large number of Japanese greetings. Knowing these greetings will make your trip easier and full of good memories. In fact, you will require some Japanese greetings once you visit any restaurant to eat some food.


This Japanese hot pot dish is ideal for sharing, with raw beef, noodles, and vegetables cooked at your table in a shallow iron pot of boiling broth made from soy sauce, sugar, and mirin, a type of cooking rice wine. After cooking, the thin strips of beef are typically dipped in a raw, beaten egg.

It was invented during the Edo period, but it failed to catch on due to strict Buddhist restrictions on meat consumption, which meant that beef could only be eaten on special occasions or when recovering from illness. These restrictions were eventually lifted, but sukiyaki remained a celebratory treat, popular for end-of-year parties among coworkers and families.


If you fall into the trap of assuming sushi and sashimi are the same things, some of the more obnoxious Japanophiles will delight in pointing out the technical difference. Don’t be panic! Sashimi is essentially sushi without rice. It’s typically served as a course in fine dining establishments or as an appetizer at izakaya gastropubs.


This soybean curd ingredient, which is now a popular vegan staple, has a long history dating back to ancient China. A Chinese chef who accidentally curdled his soy milk with seaweed is said to have discovered it.

Tofu is eaten in many different ways throughout Asia, ranging from thin noodle-like strips to huge yellow sheets, but the most common types in Japan are white block varieties, primarily the firmly-pressed momen (literally meaning “cotton”), the incredibly smooth kinu (meaning “silk”), and yuba (“hot water leaf”): thin sheets of skin formed on top of boiled soy milk.


These traditional sweets are the crown jewels of Japanese cuisine. The category of wagashi (Japanese sweets) is extremely broad, encompassing all regional, seasonal, and commonplace traditional Japanese sweets.

Beginning as simple mochi rice cakes (a sticky dough made from steamed and crushed rice) filled with nuts in ancient times, these sweets evolved into ornate delicacies made to accompany the traditional matcha green tea ceremonies of the Edo period.

Taiyaki (a fish-shaped pancake filled with anko or custard), dorayaki (an anko pancake sandwich), daifuku (mochi bites with various fillings) and namagashi are all popular types of wagashi.


According to legend, in the 11th century, the samurai Minamoto no Yoshiie left cooked soybeans in a straw bag on his horse’s back, which had fermented by the time he got around to eating them. Many people believe he should have simply thrown them away.

Natto is the Japanese equivalent of marmite: you either love it or despise it. Despite its strong odor, natto is a popular breakfast ingredient. It’s also extremely healthy due to the bacteria’s effect on boiled soybeans, which is said to benefit heart health, digestive health, and bone strength.


Tempura is a staple of Japanese cuisine, consisting of deep-fried pieces of fish and vegetables coated in a light egg and flour batter. The technique was introduced to Japan by Portuguese traders who were granted permission to trade with the country in the 1500s.

In fact, the name is derived from the Latin tempora, which refers to the Christian fasting weeks of Lent. It quickly became popular in Japan, becoming a favorite of the first Edo shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu.


This breaded pork cutlet dish, like many of the things we consider to be quintessentially Japanese, is only half the story. Tonkatsu was first served with rice and shredded cabbage in a Tokyo restaurant called Rengatei in 1899. Because of the use of pork, which the Japanese rarely ate, it was initially considered a Western-style dish. Furthermore, the Japanese curry sauce used to make the popular katsu curry was introduced to Japan via India by the British.

Frequently asked questions

Q. What makes Japanese cuisine unique?

A. Japanese cuisine has long been admired for its innovative flavors, unique ingredients, and distinct sense of culture and history. Through the creative use of ingredients, the best Japanese food tells a story, transforming the dining experience into something both enjoyable and eye-opening.

Q. What is the national dish of Japan?

A. Traditional Japanese cuisine (Japanese: washoku) consists of rice with miso soup and other dishes, with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients. Fish, pickled vegetables, and vegetables cooked in broth are common side dishes. Seafood is popular, and it is frequently grilled, but it is also served raw as sashimi or in sushi.

Q. What are Japanese lunches called?

A. A bento (弁当, bentō) is a Japanese term for a single-portion take-out or home-packed meal, typically for lunch.


Japanese food is famous for its flavors and taste. Keep this guide in mind to make your trip yummy. Apart from this, there are several Japanese learning websites that can help you to interact with waiters while placing your food order.

Japanese culture is also famous for animes. You can watch animes to learn Japanese. It will help you gain an accent like native speakers. The more you observe the characters, the more you will learn the way they speak Japanese words.

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