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Where possible, food is eaten in as natural a state as possible, as fresh as possible, as this is considered the ultimate way to eat.

Apart from rice, staples in Japanese cuisine include noodles, such as soba and udon. Japan has many simmered dishes such as fish products in broth called oden, or beef in sukiyaki and nikujaga.

Japanese Curry
Japanese Curry

Foreign food, in particular Chinese food in the form of noodles in soup (ramen) and fried dumplings (gyoza), and western food such as curry and hamburger steaks are commonly found in Japan. Historically, the Japanese shunned meat, but with the modernisation of Japan in the 1860s, meat-based dishes such as tonkatsu became common.

Below is a list of dishes found in Japanese cuisine:

Rice Dishes

  • Gohan or Meshi  – Plainly cooked white rice. It is such a staple that the terms gohan and meshi are also used to refer meals in general, such as Asa gohan/meshi (朝御飯, 朝飯, breakfast), Hiru gohan/meshi (昼御飯, 昼飯, lunch), and Ban gohan/meshi (晩御飯, 晩飯, dinner). Also, raw rice is called kome (米, rice), while cooked rice is gohan  (ご飯). Some alternatives are:
    • Genmai gohan  (玄米御飯) – Brown rice
    • Okowa  (おこわ) – Cooked glutinous rice
    • Mugi gohan/meshi (麦御飯, 麦飯) – White rice cooked with barley
    • Ochazuke (御茶漬け) – Hot green tea or  (出汁) dashi poured over cooked white rice, often with various savoury ingredients such as (梅干)  umeboshi  or  (漬物) tsukemono.
    • Onigiri – Balls of rice with a filling in the middle. Japanese equivalent of sandwiches.
    • Takikomi gohan  (炊き込み御飯) – Japanese-style pilaf cooked with various ingredients and flavoured with soy, dashi, etc.
    • Kamameshi  (釜飯) – Rice topped with vegetables and chicken or seafood, then baked in an individual-sized pot
    • Sekihan  (赤飯) – Red rice. white rice cooked with (小豆) azuki beans to glutinous rice
  • Curry Rice – One of the most popular dishes in Japan. It is commonly served in three main forms: curry rice (カレーライス karē raisu ), karē udon (thick noodles) and karē-pan. Curry rice is most commonly referred to simply as ‘curry’ (カレー karē ).
  • Hayashi rice  (ハヤシライス) – Thick beef stew on rice
  • Omurice (Omu-raisu, オムライス) – Omelette filled with fried rice, apparently originating from Tōkyō
  • Mochi  (餅) – Glutinous rice cake
  • Chāhan  (炒飯) – Fried rice, adapted to Japanese tastes, tends to be lighter in flavour and style than the Chinese version from which it is derived

A bowl of Congee


  • Kayu or Okayu (粥, お粥) – Rice congee (porridge), sometimes egg dropped and usually served to infants and sick people as easily digestible meals
  • Zosui  (Zōsui, 雑炊) or Ojiya – A soup containing rice stewed in stock, often with egg, meat, seafood, vegetables or mushroom, and flavoured with miso or soy. Known as juushii in Okinawa. Some similarity to risotto and Kayu though Zosui uses cooked rice, as the difference is that kayu is made from raw rice.

Beef Donburi
Beef Donburi


A one-bowl dish, consisting of a donburi  (どんぶり, 丼, big bowl)  full of hot steamed rice with various savoury toppings:

  • Katsudon – Donburi topped with deep-fried breaded cutlet of pork (tonkatsudon), chicken (chickendon)
  • Tekkadon – Donburi topped with tuna sashimi
  • Oyakodon (parent and child) – Donburi topped with chicken and egg (or sometimes salmon and salmon roe)
  • Gyūdon – Donburi topped with seasoned beef
  • Tendon – This is a rather misleading dish. It is simply a donburi bowl filled with hot white rice and topped with tempura and Tentsuyu Sauce. You can add vegetables to it, but if you feel it needs some greens, scatter on some sliced spring onions or tempura-fry some green beans.
  • Unadon – Donburi topped with broiled eel with vegetables.



Sushi (寿司,鮨,鮓) is a vinegared rice topped or mixed with various fresh ingredients, usually seafood or vegetables.

  • Nigiri-zushi – This is sushi with the ingredients on top of a block of rice.
  • Maki-zushi – Translated as “roll sushi”, this is where rice and seafood or other ingredients are placed on a sheet of seaweed (nori) and rolled into a cylindrical shape on a bamboo mat and then cut into smaller pieces.
  • Temaki – Basically the same as makizushi, except that the nori is rolled into a cone-shape with the ingredients placed inside. Sometimes referred to as a “hand-roll”.
  • Chirashi – Translated as “scattered”, chirashi involves fresh sea food, vegetables or other ingredients being placed on top of sushi rice in a bowl or dish.
  • Inari-zushi  (稲荷寿司,お稲荷さん) – Fried tofu packet stuffed with sushi rice (no fillings)
  • Oshi-zushi (押し寿司):
  • Mehari-zushi (めはり寿司):

Other Staples


Men-rui – 麺類
Noodles often take the place of rice in a meal. However, the Japanese appetite for rice is so strong that many restaurants even serve noodles-rice combination sets.

  • Traditional Japanese noodles are usually served chilled with a dipping sauce, or in a hot soy-dashi broth.
    • Soba – A noodle made from buckwheat and wheat flour. Soba noodles are available dried or fresh. They may be served with hot broth or cold with dipping sauce. Examples of soba dishes are zaru soba (chilled), kake soba, tempura soba, kitsune soba, and tororo soba. Although the popular Japanese dish Yakisoba includes “soba” in its name, the dish is made with Chinese style noodles (chūkamen). In Okinawa, soba likely refers to Okinawa soba (see below).
    • Udon – The thickest of the noodles served in Japanese Cuisine. Udon are white, wheat-based noodles, that are 4-6mm in width. These noodles are served chilled with a dipping sauce in the summer months, or in hot dishes and soups when the temperature is cooler. Udon dishes include kitsune udon, Nabeyaki udon, curry udon, bukkake udon, and yaki udon. However, sara udon is made using a different kind of noodle which is crispy.
    • Somen – A very thin, white, wheat-based noodle. They are usually served chilled in the summertime with dipping sauces although they may be used in soups and other hot dishes. Sōmen noodles are very similar to hiyamugi and udon noodles, only they are thinner (about 1.3mm in width). Sōmen requires oil in its manufacture. During the summer months Japanese consume chilled sōmen to stay cool..
  • Chinese-influenced noodles are served in a meat or chicken broth and have only appeared in the last 100 years or so.
    • Ramen – Thin, wheat-based noodles made from wheat flour, salt, water, and kansui, a form of alkaline water. The dough is risen before being rolled. They were imported from China during the Meiji Period. Ramen noodles have a firm texture and are usually pale yellow in colour. The noodles may vary in shape, width, and length. They are served in a broth. Examples of ramen dishes are miso ramen, shio ramen, tonkotsu ramen, and shoyu ramen.
    • Hiyashi Chuka – Consists of chilled ramen noodles with various toppings served in the summer. Toppings are usually colourful cold ingredients and a Tare Sauce.
  • Okinawa soba – Thick wheat-flour noodles served in Okinawa, often served in a hot broth with sōki, steamed pork. Akin to a cross between udon and ramen.
  • Zaru soba – Soba noodles served cold
  • Yaki soba – Fried Chinese noodles
  • Yaki udon – Fried udon noodles

Japanese Curry Bread
Japanese Curry Bread – Karē pan


Pan – パン
Bread (pan) is not native to Japan and is not considered traditional Japanese food, but since its introduction in the 16th century it has become common. The word pan, パン is derived from the Portuguese pão.

  • Curry Bread (karē pan カレーパン) – Deep fried bread filled with Japanese curry sauce.
  • Anpan (ampan アンパン) – A Japanese sweet roll most commonly filled with red bean paste. Anpan can also be prepared with other fillings, including white beans (shiro-an), sesame (goma-an) and chestnut (kuri-an).
  • Yakisoba-pan – Bread roll sandwich with yakisoba (fried noodles and red pickled ginger) filling.
  • Korokke-pan – Bread roll sandwich with Korokke (deep-fried mashed potato patties) filling.
  • Melon-pan – Sweet round bun covered in a (sometimes melon flavoured) cookie-like coating, scored in criss cross shape and baked.
  • Katsu-sando – Sandwich with Tonkatsu (crumbed pork cutlet) filling.

Tonkatsu - Japanese Crumbed Pork Cutlets
Tonkatsu – Japanese Crumbed Pork Cutlets

Main and Side Dishes

Okazu – おかず

Deep-fried Dishes

Agemono – 揚げ物

  • Karaage – 唐揚げ – Bite-sized pieces of chicken, fish, octopus, or other meat, floured and deep fried. Common izakaya food, also often available in convenience stores.
  • Korokke – コロッケ – Made by mixing cooked chopped meat, seafood, or vegetables with mashed potato or white sauce, rolling it in wheat flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs, then deep frying this until brown on the outside. Korokke are usually shaped like a flat patty.
  • Kushikatsu – 串カツ – Skewered meat, vegetables or seafood, breaded and deep fried.
  • Tempura – Deep-fried vegetables or seafood in a light, distinctive batter.
  • Tonkatsu – 豚カツ – Deep-fried crumbed cutlet of pork (chicken versions are called chicken katsu).

Gyōza – Japanese Pan-Fried Dumplings
Gyōza – Japanese Pan-Fried Dumplings

Grilled and Pan-fried Dishes

Yakimono – 焼き物

  • Gyoza – 餃子 – Chinese ravioli-dumplings (potstickers), usually filled with pork and vegetables and pan-fried.
  • Kushiyaki – 串焼き – Skewers of meat and vegetables.
  • Motoyaki – Baked seafood topped with a creamy sauce.
  • Okonomiyaki – お好み焼き – Savoury pancakes containing a variety of ingredients mainly associated with the Kansai or Hiroshima areas of Japan.
  • Takoyaki – たこ焼き,蛸焼き – A spherical, fried dumpling of batter with a piece of octopus inside. Popular street snack.
  • Teriyaki – 照り焼き – Grilled, broiled, or pan-fried meat, fish, chicken or vegetables glazed with a sweetened soy sauce.
  • Unagi – 鰻,うなぎ – including Kabayaki 蒲焼 – Grilled and flavoured eel.
  • Yakiniku – 焼肉 – May refer to several things. Vegetables such as bite-sized onion, carrot, cabbage, mushrooms, and capsicums are usually grilled together. Grilled ingredients are dipped in a sauce known as Tare before being eaten.
    • Horumonyaki – ホルモン焼き – Offal-grill – Similar homegrown dish, but using offal
    • Jingisukan – Genghis Khan – ジンギスカン Barbecue – Sliced lamb or mutton grilled with various vegetables, especially onion and cabbage and dipped in a rich tare sauce. A speciality of Hokkaidō.
  • Yakitori – 焼き鳥 – Barbecued chicken skewers, usually served with beer. In Japan, yakitori usually consists of a wide variety of parts of the chicken. It is not usual to see straight chicken meat as the only type of yakitori in a meal.
  • Yakizakana – 焼き魚 – Flame-grilled fish, often served with grated daikon. One of the most common dishes served at home. Because of the simple cuisine, fresh fish in season are highly preferable.

Beef Sukiyaki
Beef Sukiyaki

One Pot Cooking

“Steamboat” cooking – Nabemono – 鍋物
Nabemono includes:

  • Oden – おでん,関東炊き – kantou-daki – Several ingredients such as boiled eggs, daikon, konjac, and processed fishcakes stewed in a light, soy-flavoured dashi broth. Karashi (Japanese mustard) is often used as a condiment.
  • Chankonabe – ちゃんこ鍋 – Originally served only to Sumo wrestlers. Chankonabe is served with more ingredients than other nabemono, as it was developed to help sumo wrestlers gain weight. Many recipes exist but usually contain meatballs, chicken, vegetables such as Chinese cabbage and udon.
  • Motsunabe – モツ鍋 – Made with beef or pork offal, originally a local cuisine of Fukuoka but popularised nationwide in the 1990s because of its taste and reasonable price. The ingredients of motsunabe vary from restaurant to restaurant, but it is typical to boil the fresh cow offal with cabbage and garlic chives. After having offal and vegetables, the rest of soup is used to cook champon noodles. The soup bases are mainly soy sauce or miso.
  • Shabu-shabu – しゃぶしゃぶ – Hot pot with thinly sliced beef, vegetables, and tofu, cooked in a thin stock at the table and dipped in a soy or sesame-based dip before eating.
  • Sukiyaki – すき焼き – A Japanese dish, of the soup or stew type, prepared and served in the nabemono (Japanese hot pot) style. It consists of meat (usually thinly sliced beef) which is slowly cooked or simmered at the table.
  • Yosenabe – Yose (寄) means “putting together”, implying that all things (e.g., meat, seafood, egg, tofu and vegetables) are cooked together in a pot. Yosenabe is typically based on a broth made with miso or soy sauce flavourings.
  • Tecchiri – Hot pot with blowfish and vegetables, a specialty of Osaka
  • Yudofu – Tofu simmered in a kombu stock and served with ponzu and various condiments.

Stewed Dishes

Nimono – 煮物
Nimono is a stewed or simmered dish. A base ingredient is simmered in shiru stock flavoured with sake, soy sauce, and a small amount of sweetening.

  • Kakuni – 角煮 – Chunks of pork belly stewed in soy, mirin and sake with large pieces of daikon and whole boiled eggs. The Okinawan variation, using awamori, soy sauce and miso, is known as rafuti.
  • Nikujaga – 肉じゃが – Beef and potato stew, flavoured with sweet soy
  • Nizakana – 煮魚 – Fish poached in sweet soy (often on the menu as “nitsuke”)
  • Sōki – ソーキ – Okinawan dish of pork stewed with bone

Stir-fried Dishes

Itamemono – 炒め物
Stir-frying is not a native method of cooking in Japan, however mock-Chinese stir fries such as yasai itame (stir fried vegetables) have been a staple in homes and canteens across Japan since the 1950s. Home grown stir fries include:

  • Chanpurū – A stir-fry from Okinawa, of vegetables, tofu, meat or seafood and sometimes egg. Many varieties, the most famous being gōyā chanpurū.
  • Kinpira gobo – Thin sticks of greater burdock (gobo, ゴボウ) and other root vegetables stir-fried and braised in sweetened soy.


Sashimi is raw, thinly sliced foods served with a dipping sauce and simple garnishes; usually fish or shellfish served with soy sauce and wasabi. Less common variations include:

  • Fugu – 河豚 – Sliced poisonous pufferfish (sometimes lethal), a uniquely Japanese specialty. The chef responsible for preparing it must be licensed.
  • Ikizukuri – Live sashimi
  • Tataki – たたき – Raw/very rare skipjack tuna or beef steak seared on the outside and sliced, or a finely chopped fish, spiced with the likes of chopped spring onions, ginger or garlic paste.
  • Basashi – 馬刺し – Horse meat sashimi, sometimes called sakura (桜), is a regional speciality in certain areas such as Shinshu (Nagano, Gifu and Toyama prefectures) and Kumamoto. Basashi features on the menu of many izakayas, even on the menus of big national chains.
  • Torisashi – Chicken breast sashimi, regional specialty of Kagoshima, Miyazaki prefectures.
  • Rebasashi – Usually liver of calf, completely raw (rare version is called “aburi” (あぶり)), usually dipped in salted sesame oil rather than soy sauce.
  • Shikasashi – Deer meat sashimi, a rare delicacy in certain parts of Japan, frequently causes acute hepatitis E by eating hunted wild deer.

Basic Miso Soup
Basic Miso Soup


Suimono – 吸い物 and Shirumono – 汁物
Soups include:

  • Miso Soup – 味噌汁 – A traditional Japanese soup consisting of a stock called “dashi” into which softened miso paste is mixed. Many ingredients are added depending on regional and seasonal recipes, and personal preference.
  • Tonjiru – 豚汁 – Similar to Miso soup, except that pork is added to the ingredients
  • Dangojiru – 団子汁 – Soup made with dumplings along with seaweed, tofu, lotus root, or any number of other vegetables and roots
  • Imoni – 芋煮 – A thick taro potato stew popular in Northern Japan during the autumn season
  • Sumashijiru – 澄まし汁 – or Osumashi – お澄まし – A clear soup made with dashi and seafood or chicken.
  • Zoni – 雑煮 – Soup containing mochi rice cakes along with various vegetables and often chicken. It is usually eaten at New Years Day.
  • Kiritanpo – Freshly cooked rice is pounded, formed into cylinders around cryptomeria skewers, and toasted at an open hearth. The kiritanpo are used as dumplings in soups.

Pickled or Salted Foods

Tsukemono – 漬け物
These foods are usually served in tiny portions, as a side dish to be eaten with white rice, to accompany sake or as a topping for rice porridges.

  • Ikura – Salt cured and pickled soy sauce salmon caviar.
  • Mentaiko – 明太子 – Salt-cured and red pepper pickled pollock roe.
  • Shiokara – 塩辛 – Salty fermented viscera.
  • Tsukemono – 漬物 – Pickled vegetables, hundreds of varieties and served with most rice-based meals.
    • Umeboshi – 梅干 – Small, pickled ume fruit. Usually red and very sour, often served with bento (弁当) lunch boxes or as a filling for onigiri.
  • Tsukudani – 佃煮 – Very small fish, shellfish or seaweed stewed in sweetened soy for preservation.


  • Agedashi dofu – 揚げ出し豆腐 – Cubes of deep-fried silken tofu served in hot broth.
  • Bento or Obento – 弁当,御弁当 – Combination meal served in a wooden box, usually as a cold lunchbox.
  • Chawan mushi – 茶碗蒸し – Meat (seafood and/or chicken) and vegetables steamed in egg custard.
  • Edamame – 枝豆 – Boiled and salted pods of soybeans, eaten as a snack, often to accompany beer.
  • Himono – 干物 – Dried fish, often aji (鯵, Japanese jack mackerel). Traditionally served for breakfast with rice, miso soup and pickles.
  • Hiyayakko – 冷奴 – Chilled tofu with garnish.
  • Natto – 納豆 – Fermented soybeans, stringy like melted cheese, infamous for its strong smell and slippery texture. Often eaten for breakfast. Typically popular in Kantō and Tōhoku but slowly gaining popularity in other regions in which Natto was not as popular
  • Ohitashi – お浸し – Boiled greens such as spinach, chilled and flavoured with soy sauce, often with garnish.
  • Osechi – 御節 – Traditional foods eaten at New Year.
  • Sunomono – 酢の物 – Vegetables such as cucumber or wakame, or sometimes crab, marinated in rice vinegar.


Chinmi are regional delicacies, and include:

  • Ankimo
  • Karasumi
  • Konowata
  • Mozuku
  • Uni – Specifically salt-pickled sea urchin

Although most Japanese eschew eating insects, in some regions, locust (inago, イナゴ ) and bee larvae (hachinoko, 蜂の子 are not uncommon dishes. The larvae of species of caddisflies and stoneflies (zaza-mushi, ja:ざざむし), harvested from the Tenryū river as it flows through Ina, Nagano, is also boiled and canned, or boiled and then sautéed in soy sauce and sugar. Japanese clawed salamander (Hakone Sanshōuo, ハコネサンショウウオ, Onychodactylus japonicus) is eaten as well in Hinoemata, Fukushima in early summer.

Sweets and Snacks

Okashi おかし – Oyatsu おやつ


Japanese-style Sweets

Wagashi 和菓子
Wagashi include:

  • Amanattō – A Japanese traditional confectionery that is made of azuki or other beans, covered with refined sugar after simmering with sugar syrup and drying.
  • Dango – Rice dumpling
  • Hanabiramochi
  • Higashi
  • Hoshigaki – Dried persimmon fruit
  • Imagawayaki – Also known as ‘Taikoyaki’ is a round Taiyaki and fillings are same
  • Kakigori – Shaved ice with syrup topping.
  • Kompeito – Crystal sugar candy
  • Manju – Sticky rice surrounding a sweet bean centre
  • Matsunoyuki
  • Mochi – Steamed sweet rice pounded into a solid, sticky, and somewhat translucent mass
  • Oshiruko – A warm, sweet red bean soup with mochi
  • Uiro – A steamed cake made of rice flour
  • Taiyaki – A fried, fish-shaped cake, usually with a sweet filling such as an ( red bean paste )

Old-fashioned Sweets

Dagashi – 駄菓子

  • Karumetou – Brown sugar cake. Also called Karumeyaki
  • Sosu Senbei – Thin wafers eaten with soy sauce
  • Mizuame – Sticky liquid sugar candy

Western-style sweets

Yōgashi, 洋菓子
Yōgashi are Western-style sweets, but in Japan are typically very light or spongy.

  • Kasutera: “Castella” Iberian-style sponge cake
  • Mirukurepu: “mille crepe”: layered crepe (in French, “one thousand leaves”)

Anpan Japanese Sweet Roll
Anpan – Japanese Sweet Roll

Sweet breads

Kashi Pan, 菓子パン

  • Anpan (ampan アンパン) – A Japanese sweet roll most commonly filled with red bean paste. Anpan can also be prepared with other fillings, including white beans (shiro-an), sesame (goma-an) and chestnut (kuri-an).
  • Melonpan: a large, round bun which is a combination of regular dough beneath cookie dough. It occasionally contains a melon-flavoured cream, though traditionally it is called melon bread because of its general shape resembling that of a melon (not due to any melon flavour).

Green Tea Ice Cream
Green Tea Ice Cream

Other snacks

Snacks include:

  • Azuki Ice – vanilla flavoured ice cream with sweet azuki beans
  • Koara no māchi
  • Umai Bō – puffed corn food with various flavours
  • Pocky
  • Hello Panda
  • Hi-chew
  • Ice cream – The usual flavours such as vanilla and chocolate are the most common. Distinctly Japanese flavours include Matcha Ice (green tea ice cream), and less common ones include Goma (black sesame seed) and sweet potato flavours.

Matcha tea
Matcha tea

Tea and Other Drinks

See also: Japanese green teas

  • Amazake
  • Genmaicha – Green tea combined with roasted brown rice.
  • Gyokuro – Leaves are shaded from direct sunlight for approximately 3 weeks before the spring harvest. Removing direct sunlight in this way enhances the proportions of flavenols, amino acids, sugars, and other substances that provide tea aroma and taste. After harvesting the leaves are rolled and dried naturally. Gyokuro is slightly sweeter than sencha and is famous for its crisp, clean taste. Major growing areas include Uji, Kyoto and Shizuoka prefecture.
  • Hojicha – Green tea roasted over charcoal
  • Kombucha (tea) – Specifically the tea poured with Kombu giving rich flavour in monosodium glutamate.
  • Kukicha – A blend of green tea made of stems, stalks, and twigs.
  • Kuzuyu – A thick herbal tea made with kudzu starch.
  • Matcha – Powdered green tea. (Green tea ice cream is flavoured with matcha, not ocha.)
  • Mugicha – Barley tea, served chilled during summer.
  • Sakurayu – An herbal tea made with pickled cherry blossoms.
  • Sencha – Steam treated green tea leaves that are then dried.
  • Umecha – A tea drink with umeboshi, which provides a refreshing sourness.

Soft Drinks

  • Calpis
  • C.C. Lemon
  • Mitsuya Cider
  • Oronamin C Drink
  • Pocari Sweat
  • Qoo
  • Ramune
  • Yakult

Alcoholic Beverages

Sake (酒) is a rice wine that typically contains 12%–20% alcohol and is made by a double fermentation of rice. Kōjji fungus is first used to ferment the rice starch into sugar. Regular brewing yeast is used in the second fermentation to make alcohol. At traditional meals, it is considered an equivalent to rice and is not simultaneously taken with other rice-based dishes. Side dishes for sake is particularly called sakana (肴, 酒菜), or otsumami おつまみ or ate あて.

Shōchū is a distilled beverage, most commonly made from barley, sweet potatoes, or rice. Typically, it contains 25% alcohol by volume.

  • Awamori (泡盛)
  • Sake (酒, 日本酒)
  • Shōchū (焼酎)
  • Umeshu (梅酒)
  • Japanese beer (ビール) – Leading brands are Sapporo, Asahi and Kirin
  • Japanese whiskey – Suntory and Nikka Whisky Distilling are the leading distilleries

Imported and Adapted Foods

Japan has incorporated imported food from across the world (mostly from Asia, Europe and to a lesser extent the Americas), and have historically adapted many to make them their own.

From 16th century Portugal

  • Tempura — so thoroughly adopted that its foreign roots are unknown to most people, including many Japanese. As such, it is considered washoku (和食, native food).
  • Castella — sponge cake, originating in Nagasaki
  • Pan — bread, introduced by Portugal. (bread is pão in Portuguese.) Japanese bread crumbs, panko, have been popularised by cooking shows.


Yōshoku (洋食) is a style of Western-influenced food.

  • Crumbed (breaded) seafood or vegetables (furai, フライ, derived from “fry”), and breaded meat (katsuretsu, カツレツ, derived from “cutlet” and often contracted to katsu), are usually served with shredded cabbage and/or lettuce, Japanese Worcestershire or tonkatsu sauce and lemon. Tempura, a related dish, has been heavily modified since its introduction to Japan by use of batter and dashi-flavoured dip, and is usually considered to be washoku.
    • Kaki furai (カキフライ, 牡蠣フライ) – breaded oyster
    • Ebi furai (エビフライ, 海老フライ) – breaded shrimp
    • Korokke (“croquette” コロッケ) – breaded mashed potato and minced meat patties. When white sauce is added, it is called cream korokke. Other ingredients such as crab meat, shrimp, or mushrooms are also used instead of minced meat which are called kani-, ebi-, or kinoko-cream korokke, respectively.
    • Tonkatsu, Menchi katsu, chicken katsu, beef katsu, kujira katsu – crumbed and deep-fried pork, minced meat patties, chicken, beef, and whale, respectively.
  • Japanese Curry – Imported in the 19th century by way of the United Kingdom and adapted by Japanese Navy chefs. One of the most popular food items in Japan today. Eaten with a spoon. Curry is often eaten with pickled vegetables called fukujinzuke or rakkyo
    • Curry Pan – deep fried bread with Japanese curry sauce inside. The pirozhki of Russia was remodeled, and Curry bread was made.
    • Curry udon – is a hot noodle dish where the soup is made of Japanese curry. May also include meat or vegetables.
  • Hayashi rice (ハヤシライス) – beef and onions stewed in a red-wine sauce and served on rice
  • Nikujaga – soy-flavoured meat and potato stew. Has been Japanised to the extent that it is now considered washoku, but again originates from 19th Century Japanese Navy chefs adapting beef stews of the Royal Navy.
  • Omu raisu – ketchup-flavoured rice wrapped in omelette.

Other items were popularised after the war:

  • Hamburg steak – a ground beef patty, usually mixed with breadcrumbs and fried chopped onions, served with a side of white rice and vegetables. Popular post-war food item served at homes. Sometimes eaten with a fork.
  • Spaghetti – Japanese versions include:
    • with tomato ketchup, wieners, sliced onion and green pepper (called “naporitan” or “napolitan”)
    • with mentaiko sauce topped with nori seaweed (Tarako Spaghetti たらこスパゲッティ) (Mentaiko Spaghetti 明太子スパゲッティ)
    • with Japanese curry
  • Pizza – The popular pizza companies Dominos, Pizza Hut and Shakey’s all operate in Japan, but Japanese brands such as Aoki’s and Pizza-La are higher-grossing and famous for catering to Japanese taste. Many pizza chains offer seasonal toppings. Japanese versions include:
    • with corn
    • with shrimp, squid, or other seafood
    • with mayonnaise, white sauce or Pesto basil sauce
    • with potato or eggplant
    • with Galbi beef or teriyaki chicken
    • with hard-boiled eggs
    • with macaroni, wieners or other prepared foods

Other homegrown cuisine of foreign origin

  • Burgers have various variations in Japan. MOS Burger developed Teriyaki Burgers and kinpira rice burger
  • Kimchi – from Korea is often served with Japanese Chinese cuisine, though the local variant may use thinner cabbage.
  • Japanese Chinese cuisine
    • Ramen and related dishes such as champon and yaki soba
    • Mabo Dofu tends to be thinner than Chinese Mapo doufu.
    • Japanese-only “Chinese dishes” like Ebi Chili (shrimp in a tangy and slightly spicy sauce)
    • Nikuman, anman, butaman and the obscure negi-man are all varieties of mantou with fillings.
    • Gyoza are a very popular dish in Japan. Gyoza are the Japanese take on the Chinese dumplings with rich garlic flavour. Most often, they are seen in the crispy pan-fried form (potstickers), but they can be served boiled or even deep fried, as well.
  • Japanese English cuisine
    • Purin is a version of caramel custard.


  • California roll – invented in California, just as its name suggests
  • Spam musubi – a snack from Hawaii resembling onigiri, made with Spam


Lots of Japanese foods are prepared using one or more of the following:

  • Kombu (kelp), katsuobushi (flakes of cured skipjack tuna, sometimes referred to as bonito) and niboshi (dried baby sardines) are often used to make dashi stock.
  • Negi (Welsh onion), onions, garlic, nira (Chinese chives), rakkyō (Allium chinense) (a type of green onion).
  • Sesame seeds, sesame oil, sesame salt (gomashio), furikake, walnuts or peanuts to dress.
  • Shōyu (soy sauce), dashi, mirin, sugar, rice vinegar, miso, sake.
  • Wasabi (and imitation wasabi from horseradish), karashi (hot mustard), red pepper, ginger, shiso (perilla or beefsteak plant) leaves, sansho, citrus peel, and honeywort (called mitsuba).
  • A citrus fruit called yuzu is also a frequent condiment, mashed up into a relish, sold as yuzukoshō and is blended with pepper/chilli and salt. Yuzukoshō is eaten with many dishes, adding a flavourful kick to broth/soup items such as oden, nikujaga, tonjiru, udon as well as other dishes. Yuzu is also seen to flavour teas, jams or zeri (jelly), and any number of sweets from yuzu-an (a type of bean paste) to yuzu-hachimitsu (yuzu-honey).

Less traditional, but widely used ingredients include:

  • Monosodium glutamate, which is often used by chefs and food companies as a cheap flavour enhancer. It may be used as a substitute for kombu, which is a traditional source of free glutamate
  • Japanese-style Worcestershire sauce, often known as simply “sauce”, thicker and fruitier than the original, is commonly used as a table condiment for okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), tonkatsu (トンカツ), croquette (“korokke”, コロッケ) and the like.
  • Japanese mayonnaise is used with salads, okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), yaki soba (焼きそば) and sometimes mixed with wasabi or soy sauce.

Other Japanese Culinary Lists

  • List of Japanese cooking utensils
  • List of Japanese ingredients
  • List of Japanese condiments
  • List of Japanese desserts and sweets
  • List of Japanese soups and stews

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