51 Foods from Japan to Try: Your (Traditional) Food Guide

|
Updated:

Silas & Grace

Three different images of Japanese foods.

The foods from Japan have always impressed me.

The Japanese understand and have an appreciation for the aesthetics of dining. Also, they expertly combine ingredients that change the flavors in an incredible way.

Intricately plated and colorful foods from Japan.
Photo by Chasing Foxes

And when I finally went there, and lived in Japan for three months during the fall, I realized I knew nothing about their dishes.

Yes, I had incredible ramen in Bangkok, and fresh sushi in Taiwan, but when I went to Kyoto, it was all so much better.

I mean obviously, I’m literally in the country that created the dishes I love. And I understood that the Japanese food was going to be better when I visited.

But, even when you mentally understand this, it’s on a whole different level when you actually experience it.

Does that make sense?

Oh, and beyond being beautiful, the food from Japan are also fun!

And if you ever go to Japan or want to try the recipes at home, then I definitely recommend exploring the different parts of their dishes and treats.

Good example: creme brûlée doughnuts (that you could get dusted with matcha powder), were one of the funnest and tastiest things I ate.

And I got them WAY too many of them. 😂

So don’t be intimidated, just see Japanese cuisine as something fun to explore!

You’re expanding your knowledge of new types of foods, and other people’s cultures, and that’s pretty cool!


More Great Recipes from Around the World

40 Popular & Traditional Chinese Dishes to Try THIS Week


 

51 Japanese Foods to Try

Japanese sweets and matcha lattes.
Photo by Chasing Foxes

I’m a very strong believer in helping you to level up your life.

And that includes the different cuisines you try (like Japanese food).

I think that you deserve to have an amazing experience in trying new things, and becoming a genius at cooking.

There are so many ways to better your life, and I hope this list of foods from Japan helps you do just that. ♥️

The Popular Foods of Japan

1. Sushi

A Japanese sushi restaurant.
Photo by Chasing Foxes

I honestly find the history of sushi so fascinating, because it’s been around for such a long time, and it’s taken on so many different forms.

In fact, sushi wasn’t always raw. It used to be a way to preserve fish, and they would do this by wrapping the fish in fermented rice.

And of course, it’s changed throughout the different periods of Japan. And now we have so many different types of sushi to enjoy!

Now if you want to try it yourself, then here are some quick tips:

  • Don’t put the pickled ginger on the sushi, this is meant to be a palate cleanser.
  • If you do eat your sushi with soy sauce, then you’ll want to quickly dip it in. Letting it soak in the soy sauce will make the sushi fall apart.
  • In Japan, it’s poor form to add a lot of wasabi onto your sushi. Just add a very small amount if you want some extra spice.
  • If you’re eating nigiri, and want to dip it in soy sauce, pick it up with chopsticks, and flip it over so that the fish part gets dipped. That way the rice isn’t getting soaked, and then falls apart.

And lastly, here are a few of the different types of sushi you can try:

  • Maki sushi: Sushi that is rolled in nori, or sheets of dry seaweed.
  • Uramaki-zushi: Ingredients that are wrapped in seaweed sheets, but with the sushi rice on the outside.
  • Nigiri sushi: Sushi rice that is shaped by hand, and topped with a thin slice of fish.
  • Chirashizushi: This is made by putting different slices of raw fish on top of sushi rice in an artful way.
  • Inarizushi: Sushi rice stuffed inside deep-fried tofu pockets.

Oh also, here’s a good tutorial, from a Japanese food blogger, on how to make authentic sushi at home!

 

2. Sashimi

A plate full of Japanese Sashimi.
Photo by Tanya_F from Getty Images Signature

Sashimi, translating out as “pierced body,” is simply thin cut raw fish, that can be eaten with soy sauce and other sides.

But it doesn’t always have to be fish, it can even be uni, and other types of raw meat.

I personally like raw fish sashimi a lot; it can have a very delicate texture, and a mild flavor. Also, the coolness is very refreshing!

3. Ramen

The Japanese food, ramen, in a bowl, and set ablaze for show.
Fire ramen at Menbaka in KyotoPhoto by Chasing Foxes

If you haven’t been to a ramen house yet, then I promise you, ramen is so much more than those instant packets or cups.

When you go to a good restaurant with fresh noodles, rich homemade broths, tasty meats, and marinated eggs, it kind of becomes one of your favorite Japanese foods.

I remember the first time I went to a ramen house. It was for my seventeenth birthday. I got something called tonkotsu ramen which was this rich creamy pork bone broth.

Two big bowls of ramen.
Photo by Chasing Foxes

Here’s a quick guide to the common ramens you’ll find in restaurants:

  • Miso: A miso based broth. Miso is made from fermented bean paste and it tastes great!
  • Shoyu: A meat and soy sauce based broth.
  • Tonkotsu: A pork based broth.
  • Shio: A salt based broth.

Here’s another good guide to Japanese ramen that also includes recipes, if you want to do it at home yourself.

4. Miso Soup

A white bowl filled with Japanese Miso Soup.
Photo by ma-no from Getty Images

Probably one of the most common Japanese soups that you’ll find in almost every country, miso soup is a delicious side to have with most meals.

It can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and can also be easily bought at the store. So if you want to give it a try, then you can make it quickly at home.

Oh, and speaking of making it at home, here’s a good miso soup recipe, if you want to make it yourself. Also, I’m going to assume that this homemade recipe is a lot better than the ones you get at restaurants, or with the instant packets.

5. Tempura

A black metal serving bowl with  Japanese Tempura in it.
Photo by kazuhide isoe from Getty Images

Being one of my favorite things to order when I go to a Japanese restaurant, tempura is such a tasty Japanese dish!

You’re basically getting these amazingly delicious big prawns, and other veggies like sweet potato, pumpkin, and shiitake, that are coated and fried in a crispy tasty batter. 

It’s honestly so satisfying to eat, and the dipping sauce is always good. 👌

Fun Fact: Tempura was originally introduced to the Japanese, in the 16th century, by the Portuguese, when they showed them their fritter-cooking techniques.

Oh, and here’s a really good looking tempura recipe if you wanna make it home!

Other Great Recipes from Around the World:

Indian Food: 100 Indian Dishes to Level You Up as a Foodie

6. Gyoza

A plate of gyoza.
Photo by Chasing Foxes

Another one of my favorite Japanese dishes to order whenever I go to a Japanese restaurant!

Gyoza are tasty dumplings that are pan fried until crispy golden on the outside . Also, the fillings are always delicious. You’re getting some nice pork, garlic, ginger, cabbage, and other good ingredients.

Oh, and I just learned that they originally came from Manchuria, a region in northern China. Pretty crazy how things travel, right?

Gyoza Recipe

7. Wagyu

Japanese wagyu being cut up.
Photo by vichie81 from Getty Images

I loved getting Wagyu when I lived in Japan!

There was this amazing steak restaurant in Kyoto called Pound.

The Wagyu was always so tender and delicious, and for a good reason!

There’s a lot of marbling in the meat, which just means that the beef is gonna be incredibly tender, moist, and have some wonderful flavor.

The name Wagyu comes from four different Japanese breeds of beef cattle. They were crossbred from Japanese and European cattle, and it can get pretty darn expensive.

Wagyu Recipe

8. Unagi

A black bowl with Japanese Unagi and rice in it.
Photo by ai_yoshi from Getty Images

Unagi is freshwater eel that is cut open, gutted, and has its head removed.

Then it’s put on a skewer, broiled, and then grilled over charcoal while being basted in a tasty looking sauce.

You can have it as apart of sushi, unadon (on rice), or even unagi pie, which is basically a sweet type of biscuit with powdered unagi.

You’ll find this food from Japan eaten during festivals, or in restaurants that specialize in serving different unagi dishes.

Fun Fact: There’s actually a special day for eating this Japanese dish; it’s called Midsummer Ox Day (or, doyo no ushi no hi)!

Here’s a good looking recipe for unagi if you want to try it at home!

9. Tofu

A white bowl with a Japanese tofu recipe in it.
Photo by Promo_Link from Getty Images

A very common ingredient that you’re gonna be seeing a lot of in Japan!

You’ll see tofu put into soups, with meat, or as the main dish with a few other ingredients.

And while there are a lot of different ways to try it, I definitely recommend going to Japan to have it. You’re going to be getting something that’s obvious authentic.

But if you want a tofu recipe to try at home, then check out Hiyayakko; a cold tofu dish.

10. Omurice

A big white plate with Omurice, a Japaense dish, on it.
Photo by kuri2000 from Getty Images

I love omurice!

It’s this tasty omelette that’s filled with chicken fried rice, and topped with curry. Or at least that’s how I had it at a restaurant in Japan.

But more commonly, you can get it topped with ketchup.

Also, there are two theories for where it started:

  1. An owner of a restaurant in Osaka, called Hokkyokusei, saw that a customer of his was not feeling well. So he quickly cooked up some tasty fried rice, and wrapped it in omelette to re-energize them. They of course loved it, and when asking for the name, the owner quickly came up with the name omurice. Which is just a combination of the words, omelette and rice.
  2. It was a simple delicious dish that was made by workers in the very old Tokyo restaurant Rengatei, which was started in 1895.

If you want to make it at home yourself, then here’s a good looking recipe for omurice here!

11. Japanese Curry

A bowl full of Japanese curry and rice.
Photo by Chasing Foxes

I love Japanese curry! It’s a super savory and very comforting dish to have on a cold day.

Also, there are plenty of ways to have it!

You can have it with rice, cutlets like pork or chicken, eggs, or udon.

Also, it’s pretty simple to make. Depending on where you live, you can go to the Asian section of your grocery store, and grab Japanese curry (which are sold as packs of roux blocks).

Here’s a Japanese curry dish to try if you’re curious!

12. Yakitori

Japanese Yakitori on a grill.
Photo by ma-no from Getty Images

Yakitori is a very common skewered chicken dish that you will see in Izakayas (informal Japanese bars).

Also, it’s apparently pretty serious business in Japan.

Certain specialty restaurants will have chefs that find the best breed of chicken from certain regions, so that their yakitori will taste incredible.

Oh, and you can get it prepped with a lot of different methods.

So, for instance, you can get it with chicken thighs or breasts, but you can also have it made with chicken meatballs, chicken tail, fatty liver, or chicken wings!

Here’s a good yakitori recipe to try, if you wanna do it at home!

13. Takoyaki

The Japanese food, Takoyaki, on a black plate.
Photo by curraheeshutter from Getty Images Pro

Coming from Osaka, takoyaki is one of the most famous Japanese Street food snacks in Japan.

They’re fried dough balls filled with tasty ingredients like crispy tempura and octopus.

Also, they’re topped with delicious Japanese kewpie mayo and takoyaki sauce.

For some reason, I never had them when I was in Japan, but I can say that I did have them in Taiwan at a night market. They’re pretty darn good when they’re hot and fresh! 👌

Oh, and if you wanna try it at home, then here’s a good takoyaki recipe to try!

14. Tamagoyaki

A man holding the Japanese dish, Tamagoyaki.
Photo by fon_thachakul from Getty Images

When I wanted a very quick meal in Japan, I would get these nice premade lunches.

And some of these would have tamagoyaki, which are Japanese rolled omelettes. 

I really liked eating tamogoyaki since it was this tasty, savory, almost sweet, egg dish.

But while it’s omelette-like, you’ll find it being served in plenty of different meals. So for instance, you’ll see it being served in bento, on sushi, or even at izakayas.

And if you ever wanna make it yourself, then here’s a tamagoyaki recipe you can try.

Japanese Meat Dishes

15. Karaage

Photo by atosan from Getty Images

If you like fried food, like me, then I think you’ll like karaage.

It’s a Japanese style of cooking, where they deep fry different types of meat.

Chicken Karaage is one of the most common versions of this Japanese dish, and it looks so tasty!

Also, the ingredients sound so good. You’re getting things like sake, soy sauce, ginger, and a garlic marinade. Then it’s coated in a potato starch and fried until crispy. Sounds amazing!

Karaage Recipe

16. Buta-No-Shogayaki (Ginger Pork)

The food from Japan, Buta-No-Shogayaki, on a blue-grey plate.
Photo by fannrei from Getty Images

You’re getting thinly cut slices of grilled pork that have a nice sauce of ginger, soy sauce, sake and other delicious sounding ingredients.

It’s something you can get at a lot of different restaurants in Japan, but if you don’t want to wait to travel, then here’s a good recipe for Shogayaki here.

17. Gyudon

A bowl full of the the Japanese food, Gyudon.
Photo by piyato from Canva

A simple but delicious beef and rice bowl.

It’s a Japanese dish of thinly sliced beef, well-cooked sweet onions, and fresh hot steamed rice.

I’ve had it before and it’s very satisfying. You’re getting amazing bites of tasty and savory beef and onions, and rice that’s soaked in the juices

In my opinion, it’s great comfort food, and if you want to try it too, then here’s a good recipe for Gyudon!

18. Tonkatsu

A blue and white plate holding Japanese Tonkatsu on it.
Photo by mansum008 from Getty Images

I love tonkatsu!

It’s a tasty breaded and deep fried pork cutlet, and it makes for a very filling meal!

Also, remember how I talked about how omurice was (potentially) invented by a Tokyo restaurant called Rengatei?

Well, apparently they invented tonkatsu as well!

You’ll also find it served with rice and Japanese curry, which I personally love. It’s a very satisfying dish. 👌

And here’s an authentic recipe for tonkatsu, if you want to make it for dinner this week!

19. Fugu

Japanese Fugu on a colorful plate.
Photo by sintaro from Getty Images

Fugu is a pufferfish that is apparently pretty tasty, but very much controlled by the Japanese government.

Why? Because if not prepared right, it can actually be lethal because the toxins in certain parts of the pufferfish body. 

However, because it is carefully prepped, people will eat it as sashimi, or in nabe hot pot (nabemono).

Fun Fact: Chefs who want to be able to prep and serve this dish, have to undergo three years of very intense training to get their license.

20. Crab (Kani)

A Japanese Crab soup in a white bowl.
Photo by duoma from Getty Images

Japan loves crab, and it’s especially popular during the the colder months.

And while it’s served in many different Japanese dishes, apparently Hokkaido is one of the best places for this seafood.

Also, there are so many different types of crab to try in Japan. So, for instance, you’ll see snow crab, matsuba crab, and king crab.

Basically, when you visit Japan, you’re going to have a lot of different options. Or you can just try this Japanese-style BBQ king crab recipe here

21. Miso Katsu

A bowl holding the Japanese dish, Miso Katsu, and cabbage.
Photo by ~UserGI15702993 from Getty Images

If you like pork tonkatsu, then you’ll like this Nagoya version that comes with a really tasty thick sauce.

So while the breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet is the same as other tonkatsu dishes, the sauce is what sets it apart.

And the main ingredient for this tasty sounding sauce is Hatcho miso bean paste, and apparently it’s very good. 👌

Miso Katsu Recipe

22. Tebasaki

A basket holding Japanese Tebasaki.
Photo by kuremo from Getty Images

If you like fried wings a lot (like me), then I think this Japanese version is going to make you pretty happy.

It’s a popular food from Japan that’s not battered, but has a tasty sweet and savory glaze.

And if this sounds good to you, then here’s a recipe for Nagoya style tebasaki here.

23. Jingisukan

People grilling Japanese Jingisukan.
Photo by  SEASTOCK from Getty Images

Coming from Hokkaido, it’s a popular mutton dish that’s brought out raw, with veggies. Then you cook it yourself on the grill that’s provided at your table.

So if you’ve ever had Korean barbecue, then this might be a fun Japanese version to try!

Here’s a recipe for Jingisukan if you want to do it at home yourself.

Noodle Dishes

24. Udon

A person picking up Japanese udon noodles with their chopsticks.
Photo by Patryk_Kosmider from Getty Images

Udon is probably my husband’s favorite noodle dish.

They’re these super thick noodles made of wheat flour, and they’re so much fun to eat.

Traditionally, they’re served with soup, and can be very comforting on a cold day.

But you can also have them cold, which can be great when it’s hot out!

Also, here are just a few of the different types of udon dishes you might see:

  • Kake Udon: Udon noodles served with a hot broth and green onions.
  • Kamaage Udon: These noodles are dipped in a hot sauce, or you can pour soy sauce on top. They’re also not cooled off in cold water after being cooked, which apparently gives them an interesting texture.
  • Tsuke Udon: Cold noodles that are dipped in a hot broth.
  • Yamakake Udon: Also called totoro udon, these hot noodles are served in a broth with grated potatoes, and Chinese yams.
  • Tsukimi Udon: An udon noodle soup where a raw egg is placed inside, and cooks in the hot broth.

For a recipe you can make at home, here’s a tempura udon dish that looks incredible!

More Great Recipes to Try

81 Best Authentic Mexican Recipes

25. Soba

Japanese Soba in a bowl.
Photo by Megumi Kodaira from Getty Images

Soba are thin, buckwheat flour noodles that can be served cold, and with a nice dipping sauce. So basically, it makes for a great dish to have on hot days.

Or, you can have it with a hot broth on a cold day, but it’s up to you! I’d personally test out both methods.

However, it’s said that they are best appreciated cold, since soaking them in the hot broth changes its texture.

Here are three good soba dishes to look out for:

  • Mori Soba: Cold soba noodles in a bowl, with a sauce poured over top.
  • Zaru Soba: Cold soba noodles, served on a bamboo tray called a Zaru. Typically topped with nori (seaweed), and served with a dipping sauce.
  • Kake Soba: Soba noodles served in a bowl with hot broth.

Here’s a zaru soba recipe if you want to try it out!

26. Yakisoba

Japanese Yakisoba being cooked.
Photo by cokada from Getty Images Signature

Yakisoba are Japanese stir-fry noodles that first started showing up in the 1930s.

And since then, it’s been widely enjoyed at home, and in Japanese diners (Teishoku-ya). But it’s also very popular as a Japanese street food.

But in this stir-fry dish, you’re going to be getting thinly sliced meat, Chinese-style wheat noodles, and veggies like carrots, cabbage, and onions that are tossed in a tasty sauce.

I can’t wait to try this at a Japanese street food stall, but for now, I think I’ll have to try a yakisoba recipe like this here.

Mixed Ingredient Japanese Dishes

27. Onigiri

A person holding up a Japanese onigiri.
Photo by Chasing Foxes

Onigiris are one of my favorite Japanese snacks to eat.

They’re rice balls formed into a triangular shape, with different tasty fillings. Also, they have a nori seaweed wrap at the bottom, or sometimes all the way around.

Here are some fillings you might want try:

  • Tuna-mayo
  • Dried bonito mixed with soy sauce
  • Red bean
  • Tempura
  • Boiled egg
  • Japanese fried chicken

Onigiris are fun to make, and if you want to try it yourself, then here’s a cute onigiri recipe to try.

28. Okonomiyaki

A Japanese okonomiyaki on a griddle.
Photo by 2nix from Getty Images

I really like this Japanese dish!

It’s this really fluffy savory pancake, that can be made with egg, meats, cabbage, cheese, and other tasty ingredients.

It also has awesome toppings like Japanese mayo (which is so creamy), and a delicious brown sauce.

Also, depending on the region you’re in, the okonomiyaki can be prepared differently. So check out the local restaurants, and see how they’re making it!

Here are the two main types of okonomiyaki:

  1. Kansai-Style (or Osaka Style): The ingredients are mixed together with the batter, and then put on a griddle to cook. Other toppings are put on it for extra flavor.
  2. Hiroshima-Style: For this style, they make a crepe, and cook the ingredients separately. Then once it’s done, they place the ingredients on top of the crepe, and then place it on top of noodles.

Here’s a recipe for kansai-style okonomiyaki if you want to make it at home. Also, here’s one for the Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki.

29. Oden

A bowl full of Japanese Oden.
Photo by TatayaKudo from Getty Images

Whether it’s the middle of the winter, or not, I’m trying this Japanese cold-weather dish.

Oden is going to be a hot pot filled up with amazing ingredients like eggs, fish cakes (which I personally love), daikon radish, potatoes, and a lot more.

Also, the broth sounds delicious, but super simple. So you’ll see Dashi stock, soy sauce, mirin, and sake make up the flavors for this hot pot.

Also, if you do want to try it at home, then here’s a good recipe for oden. The Japanese food blogger, who made this recipe, talks about how even if you don’t have all the Japanese ingredients where you are, it doesn’t really matter.

As he said, “…there is no fixed rule to what you can add. That’s the beauty of oden!”

30. Katsudon

Crispy Japanese Katsudon on a plate.
Photo by ma-no from Getty Images

Katsudon is another type of donburi, and it looks amazing. 👌

Side note: Donburi is a Japanese rice bowl dish, and it can have many different toppings.

For this donburi dish, you’ll typically get a tasty pork cutlet, onions, and flavored egg.

Also, it’s a popular lunch dish in Japan, so you’ll find it in a lot of different eateries.

Katsudon Recipe

31. Nabe

A girl picking up some Japanese nabe with her chopsticks.
Photo by hanapon1002 from Getty Images

Nabe (or Nabemono, literally translating out as “things in a cooking pot”), refers to soups and stews that are made in a hot pot for cold days.

So, for instance, you might see chankonabe, which I’ve made myself, and it’s very tasty. 👍

It’s a delicious soup that sumo wrestlers eat, and it has ingredients like chicken, udon, meatballs, and different types of veggies.

Or Yosenabe, which is a hot pot that typically has the broth of miso and soy sauce, and all the ingredients are cooked together at the same time.

It varies region by region, so if you’re traveling through Japan, then you’re going to get a lot of different variations.

PS – Here’s a recipe for Nabeyaki, which has udon noodles, and that sounds so good!

32. Teppanyaki

Japanese Teppanyaki being grilled up.
Photo by piyato from Getty Images

If you like grilling, then you’ll like Teppanyaki.

Teppanyaki translates out to either grilled, or pan fried, and describes a style of cooking.

On a hot griddle, you’ll cook different types of thinly sliced meat, seasonal veggies, seafood, and mushrooms (among other things).

Also, because it’s grilling done indoors, there’s no need to worry about whether it’s the right season or not. You get to try this tasty Japanese-style grilling all year round.

Here’s a good place to start with teppanyaki if you want to try it yourself!

33. Shabu Shabu

A plate full of meat for Japanese Shabu Shabu.

Shabu shabu is a lot of fun to eat!

It’s a type of hot pot, where the meat and veggies are cooked in kombu dashi broth, and everyone takes part in the cooking.

Also there are different types of dipping sauces, and that can make it a lot more tasty!

Fun fact: The name, shabu shabu, comes from the sound your chopsticks make when you stir, or “swish swish,” the ingredients in a hot pot.

Here’s a shabu shabu recipe here, if you want to try it at home with your friends and/or family. 😊

34. Sukiyaki

A person picking up Japanese Sukiyaki with chopsticks.
Photo by tonaquatic from Getty Images

Sukiyaki is one of the most popular styles of hot pot, or nabe, in Japan.

Also, like the other hot pots, it’s widely eaten in the colder winter months, and is a fun meal to have with your family and friends. 

With this hot pot, you’ll see slowly simmered well-marbled beef, veggies, mushrooms, and tofu, all in a very savory, sweet, and salty broth.

Oh, and in Japan, many like dipping the cooked beef, and other ingredients, in raw egg. It apparently adds creaminess to the food.

Here’s a recipe for sukiyaki here.

35. Tamago Kake Gohan

The Japanese food, Tamago Kake Gohan, in a blue bowl.
Photo by Chasing Foxes

I love this super simple Japanese breakfast dish.

I remember going to this Japanese restaurant for breakfast in Kyoto. My husband and I had ordered a set meal, and one of the things we got was tamago kake gohan.

We were a bit confused; we had a bowl of hot steamed rice, soy sauce, and a raw egg.

We ended up asking the waitress about it, and she explained how to make it. You just simply crack the egg over the rice, pour soy sauce on top, and then mix it up.

We had never eaten raw egg before, but we were definitely going to try it. And after making it the way she said to, we immediately fell in love.

It was so simple, but so delicious!

Here’s a great post on tamago kake gohan that talks about the history, different toppings you can add, plus health concerns.

36. Bento

A bento container holding different Japanese foods.
Photo by TatayaKudo from Getty Images

Bento is a Japanese home packed meal, usually lunch, or single-portion take out.

So traditionally, bento can consist of rice, meat, and veggies that are either cooked or pickled.

For the rice part, you’ll see it either prepared normally, and it can take up to half of the bento box. But you’ll also see it made into onigiris (Japanese rice ball), or fried rice.

The other ingredients in the bento box should be well seasoned since it needs to still taste good, even when it gets cold. Or at least that’s the tip I got from the Chopstick Chronicles. Check out her guide on bento. She has some good ideas and helpful tips!

37. Motsunabe

A cooking pot holding the food from Japan, Motsunabe.
Photo by GI15702993 from Getty Images

This is a Japanese hot pot that’s either made with pork or beef offal.

I personally like offal; the flavor is very rich, so this sounds very tasty to me!

Being a Fukuoka specialty, the offal is cooked in a soup that has tasty ingredients like garlic and chili pepper. And of course, other ingredients are added such as cabbage, or champon noodles.

It sounds like a very healthy and delicious dinner to have, and this recipe for motsunabe looks like a good one to try out!

38. Kakuni Manju

Three Japanese Kakuni Manju on a serving tray.
Photo by Verko Ignjatovic from Getty Images

Now this one sounds really tasty!

If you’ve had Taiwanese pork belly buns, then you might like this Japanese version.

Coming from Nagasaki, the pork is flavored with tasty ingredients like mirin, sugar, and dashi, and then slow-cooked till tender.

And lastly, it’s put into a soft bun, and topped with other yummy ingredients. Sounds amazing. 👌

Kakuni Manju Recipe

39. Kaisendon

A bowl full of the Japanese food, Kaisendon.
Photo by ma-no from Getty Images

If you like fish, then this is a great dish for you.

You’re getting a bowl of unseasoned white rice, that’s topped with thinly sliced sashimi, other types of seafood, and sauce.

You can get this dish at different restaurants and seafood markets, but you could also make it home.

Here’s a good looking kaisendon recipe here if you’re curious!

40. Champon

Chopsticks picking up noodles from a bowl of Japanese Champon.
Photo by zepp1969 from Getty Images

Coming from Nagasaki, this Japanese-Chinese dish is a noodle soup that’s made with different ingredients like fried pork, veggies, and champon ramen noodles.

It was created during the Meiji period for Chinese students living in Japan, who were attending school. They needed something that was filling, but cheap, so the Chinese restaurant, Shikairo, started to make this dish for them.

Champon Recipe

41. Monjayaki

A woman making Japanese Monjayaki.
Photo by everydayAnalog from Getty Images

Apparently, this is a very popular Japanese dish in Tokyo!

It’s pan-fried batter that can come mixed with different ingredients like shredded cabbage, pork, and different types of seafood.

And instead of being like a pancake, it looks more like a crêpe. I think this would be a very fun food to try when visiting Tokyo!

Here’s a recipe for Monjayaki if you want it at home!

42. Nikujaga

A bowl of the Japanese food, Nikujaga.
Photo by Seiko from Getty Images

Nikujaga is a satisfying and filling looking stew that has meat, potatoes, and veggies that are cooked in tasty seasonings like sake, mirin and soy sauce.

Apparently, it’s a dish that’s made in many different households in Japan, so the flavors and ingredients can change. And if you wanna make it at home yourself, then here’s a recipe for Nikujaga.

Japanese Veggie Dishes

43. Lotus Root

A bowl of cooked and seasoned Japanese lotus root and meat.
Photo by tsurukamedesign from Getty Images

When I was in Japan and went grocery shopping, something made me go, “Yes, I need to buy this lotus root.”

Why? I don’t know, but it tasted so good! 😂

And now whenever I see it on a menu, as a part of a recipe, I’m a lot more likely to order that dish.

Lotus root has a wonderful texture when it’s cooked, and easily takes on the flavors you cook it with.

And if you’re curious about it, then here’s a recipe for kinpira renkon, a Japanese lotus root dish.

 

44. Edamame

A white bowl holding Japanese edamame.
Photo by Cavan Images from Getty Images

I love edamame, they have such a good texture when they’re added to different dishes!

They’re very young beans that are picked before they’re ripe (and before they become soy beans). Also, they’re great for snacking, and they can be served as an appetizer in  different Japanese restaurants.

Japanese Desserts & Drinks

45. Wagashi

The Japanese sweet, wagashi, on a black plate, and a matcha latte.
Photo by Chasing Foxes

I love wagashi, and it’s one of my favorite foods from Japan!

It’s a traditional Japanese sweet and can take on many different forms.

I love having mine with red bean paste; there’s something so delicious about the sweet flavors!

Also, many of them are seasonal, so it can be fun to pick out ones that match the season you’re in.

Here’s one I got at a tea shop in Kyoto during the fall. It’s so cute!

A Japanese jack-o-lantern themed wagashi on a small square plate.
Photo by Chasing Foxes

Also, when I was in Japan, my husband took me to a wagashi shop called Sasaya Iori. It’s over 305 years old!

And lastly, if you want to try it yourself, then here’s a recipe for dango, one of the types of wagashi you can get in Japan.

46. Matcha

A Japanese matcha latte in a large bowl-like cup.
A matcha latte I got at one of my favorite restaurants in Kyoto.

Matcha is a very traditional drink from Japan, and my husband, Silas, and I, fell in love with it when we visited.

While we were living in Japan, we met a tea master who ran a tea shop close to where we stayed.

We talked to him quite a bit, and he was super helpful for understanding the art of tea ceremony, and matcha.

In fact, my husband ended up being trained by him, alongside other students, and found it very beautiful and enjoyable.

But the reason why I’m bringing this up is because this is where I learned to appreciate matcha.

It has this wonderfully deep, earthy, and almost creamy flavor (if made right).

Also, here’s a photo my husband took of me trying the one his tea master made. His tasted a lot better than the one I attempted. 😂

A woman, in a grey knit sweater, carefully drinking Japanese matcha out of a matcha bowl.
Photo by Chasing Foxes

Also, matcha is a big part of celebrating the seasons!

While my husband hadn’t reached a point in his lessons where he was ready to perform tea ceremony for others, we were invited to a special seasonal event that marked the new year of tea ceremony.

It took place in an old beautiful shrine called, Nashinoki-jinja Shrine.

A Japanese tea ceremony with many people in traditional outfits and bowing.
Photo by Chasing Foxes

If you ever get the chance to attend one of these, then I highly recommend it! It was a wonderful experience!

And lastly, if you want to give it a try yourself, then here’s a tutorial on how to make matcha! 🍵

 

47. Mochi

A woman holding a package of purple mochi.
Photo by Chasing Foxes

Mochi is such a fun Japanese sweet!

It’s made from glutinous rice flour pounded into a soft chewy paste, and formed into a shape.

Also, there are different types you can get.

Some are made with ice cream wrapped in the mochi paste, and others have a sweet red bean paste inside.

I think the best option is to probably just try out as many as you can, you know, as an experiment, not for enjoyment at all.

Oh, and here’s a recipe for homemade mochi ice cream!

48. Castella Cake (Japanese Sponge Cake)

A hand holding up a piece of Japanese castella cake.
Photo by Adisak Mitrprayoon from Getty Images Signature

Castella, (also called Kasutera and Japanese sponge cake), is a dessert that was introduced by the Portuguese in the 1500s.

The Portuguese had a cake called Pão de Castela (hence the name Castella cake), which just means “bread from Castile.”

Interestingly enough, the difference between the Japanese version and the western version of this sponge cake, is that the Castella cake only rises because of the egg foam. There are no other leavening agents.

Being a specialty of Nagasaki city, you’ll see it being sold in long boxes at street stalls, or festivals, and it honestly looks so good. 👌

Oh, and it’s very simple to make, you just need bread flour, sugar, eggs, water, and honey!

Here’s the recipe for Castella cake if you want to try it for dessert this week!

49. Melon Pan

Two Japanese Melon Pan on a white plate.
Photo by yasuhiroamano from Getty Images

A very classic Japanese sweet bread that has a thin crispy cookie-like crust, and a cute crisscross pattern on top.

The word ‘pan’ comes from the Japanese word for bread, but when it comes to the melon part, there is no melon flavor.

The main theories are that it resembles different melons, but either way, it sounds and looks very good!

Melon Pan Recipe

Other Japanese Dishes to Try

50. Natto

Chopsticks picking up Japanese natto.
Photo by Studio Japan from Canva

I keep on hearing conflicting views on this Japanese dish; you either love it or hate it.

But essentially, natto is fermented soy beans, that can be served over rice with a few other ingredients.

It’s been dubbed as a superfood by many since it’s packed with nutrients. However, even though natto is very healthy, it apparently has a strong acquired taste.

So I’d say that if you ever see it at a Japanese food store, go ahead and get it, and see what you personally think.

51. Korokke

Four Japanese Korokke on a wooden serving tray.
Photo by by bhofack2 from Getty Images

If you want something that looks really satisfying and tasty, then this deep-fried breaded patty might just hit the spot.

It can be filled with ingredients like mashed potatoes and veggies, meat, or seafood.

And apparently, you can get it almost everywhere in Japan. So if you’re visiting, then you should be able to easily get some!

Here’s a recipe for korokke if you want to make it at home.


What is Traditional Japanese Food?

As we wrap things up, I thought it would be good to go over what traditional Japanese food really is.

I think it’s good if you understand a bit more about it, and it’s history.

Washoku, or Japanese cuisine, covers so many different traditional, seasonal, and regional ingredients, and foods from Japan.

You’re getting recipes that have developed throughout the different political, social, and economic changes over the centuries.

And with the traditional Japanese cuisine, you’re going to be seeing many dishes served with rice with miso soup. And apart from rice, you’ll see noodles like udon and soba widely eaten.

For side dishes, they can consist of pickled vegetables, vegetables cooked in broth, and fish.

And speaking of fish, seafood is, of course, very common in Japan. And whether it’s eaten raw, grilled, or cooked in a soup, you’ll get a lot of variety in how it’s prepared.

Tempura can’t be forgotten either, which is seafood and vegetables that are deep fried in a crispy light batter, and eaten all over Japan. One of my personal favorites!

And as I discussed above, nabe, or hot pot, is a traditional, and much loved, way of eating all across the country.

Now let’s talk about influences and historical changes!

There are so many different influences over all the years from different countries, and periods.

So for instance, you’ll see Chinese and western influences in Japanese cuisine. A good example of this would be ramen and curry.

Also, the religious history that influenced, and changed the foods from Japan, is very interesting as well!

During the Kofun period, when Buddhism became Japan’s official religion, meat was eaten a lot less often. And because of this, the people started to take in a lot more seafood, and made that their main source of protein.

It wasn’t until the 19th century, when Japan opened back up to the west, that meat became a normal part of the Japanese diet again. And because of this, you now have amazing meat dishes like Wagyu.

I love the fact that Japan has an amazingly rich history with their cuisine! It’s so cool to learn about how it’s changed over all the years.

Foods from Japan FAQ

Three different small plates and bowls, filled with colorful foods from Japan.
Photo by Chasing Foxes
1. What is Japan’s famous food?

Sushi is by far Japan’s most famous food.
It’s something that nearly everyone knows about, and can be found in even the smallest towns around the world.

2. Are there any special foods in Japan?

Here are just a few special foods to try in Japan:
Natto: Fermented soybeans that have a very strong flavor.
Uni: The reproductive organs of sea urchins; they’re very sweet and taste great!
Omurice: A boat-shaped omelette that’s placed on top of rice.

3. What are 3 common foods in Japan?

Here are 3 common foods in Japan:
1. Japanese curry: A super savory brown curry that’s normally served with rice, and can be topped with things like pork cutlet.
2. Udon: Udon are very thick noodles, and are served in many different ways in Japan.
3. Nabe: Nabe is a hot pot, and is traditionally and commonly eaten in Japan.

4. Why is Japan famous for food?

I believe that part of the reason why Japan is famous for food, is because the Japanese don’t just focus on the flavors, but the aesthetics, and the quality as well.


I hope you found this guide on the foods from Japan helpful!

There’s a lot to cover, so I will be adding more in the future, and if you have any questions about the foods from Japan, then feel free to ask in the comments.

I will do my best to answer them! 😊

 

Chasing Foxes was started in 2016 as a way for Grace and her husband, Silas, to start traveling. However, they started to realize that they had a passion for improving themselves, and wanted to help others level up their lives as well. So whether it's with cooking, travel, or staying healthy, they want to help you better your life bit by bit, as they do the same.

Featured Food Food & Drink Leveling Up Your Cooking

Silas & Grace

Chasing Foxes was started in 2016 as a way for Grace and her husband, Silas, to start traveling. However, they started to realize that they had a passion for improving themselves, and wanted to help others level up their lives as well. So whether it's with cooking, travel, or staying healthy, they want to help you better your life bit by bit, as they do the same.

Leave a Comment

WHAT TO LEARN MORE?

Explore Our Tips Below!

Lifestyle

MONEY

STYLE & BEAUTY

TRAVEL

FOOD & DRINK

Wellness