Japan has a reputation for serving beautifully presented food. It is also known for using fresh, high-quality seasonal ingredients. If you want to expand your knowledge of Japanese food, here are some traditional Japanese foods you might want to try.

Whether you’re thinking about the best place to stay in Tokyo for your gastronomic adventure, visiting Japan for the first time or wondering what to buy at a Japanese online store, use this list for inspiration.


Nobody will argue with the fact that sushi is one of the most famous foods to come from Japan. 

The origins of sushi go back to ancient times when it was common for fish to be preserved in fermented rice. 

Nowadays, sushi is made with vinegared rice and fresh fish. It’s presented in many ways and shapes. 


Tempura is a dish of battered and fried fish, vegetables, or seafood. Great care is taken in the way the ingredients are cut. The temperature of the batter must be ice cold and the oil for deep-frying must be very hot. Only then, will the Tempura be crispy fried perfection.

Around Tokyo, in the Kanto region, you eat tempura with a dipping sauce. Similarly, in Kansai, around Osaka and Kyoto, you dip it in flavored salt.


If you’re looking for something to eat during your visit to Japan, ramen is a popular option. The dish consists of wheat noodles served in soy sauce. It can also be a miso soup mixed with many kinds of ingredients.

The most typical ingredients are green onions, seaweed, slices of pork, and egg. This soup has a very unique flavor. It can be soft or strong depending on where you order it. 


Yakitori is a dish of bite-sized cuts of chicken grilled on a skewer. Every part of the chicken is used including the liver, heart, and chicken comb. The reason all parts are used is to avoid wastefulness, an important element of Japanese food. 

Tsukemono Pickles

The Japanese have been eating these traditional pickles for hundreds of years. A variety of ingredients can be pickled. They include vegetables such as daikon radish and eggplant. Fruit can also be pickled, such as the ume plum. 

Tsukemono adds bright colors to your plate and they’re also very healthy food. 

Kare-Raisu (Curry Rice)

Kare-Raisu is a simple and delicious dish that’s just rice with curry. The taste is different from any other curry dish and uses a variety of meats and vegetables.

The base vegetables include onions, carrots, and sweet potatoes. The most common meats are pork, chicken, beef, and sometimes duck. 

You can expect different levels of spiciness. Mild, regular, and hot are the most common.  


Kaiseki is a tasting course that consists of small, seasonally-themed dished. Each one will be crafted with precision and attention to detail.

Kaiseki came about from the traditional tea ceremony. Small morsels of food were offered alongside bitter green tea. Over time, these offerings evolved into a multi-course haute cuisine meal.  


Udon is a dense and chewy noodle that’s made from wheat flour. It’s very popular in Japan because it tastes delicious, is inexpensive, and is versatile. 

You can eat udon hot or cold and customize the dish with any number of toppings.

There are three most famous regional varieties of noodles:

  • Sanuki udon: from Kagawa prefecture in Southwest Japan
  • Kishimen udon: from Nagoya in Central Japan
  • Inaniwa udon: from Akita in Northern Japan


Soba is another type of noodle dish and it’s been eaten in Japan for hundreds of years. It is made using buckwheat flour, and has a long thin shape, and firm texture. It’s also very healthy. 

Soba is served both hot and cold. Hot it might be served in a hot broth. Chilled it might be served with a dipping sauce.


Okonomiyaki is similar to a pancake. It’s pressed on a griddle but the ingredients are much more diverse. Typically, it’s made with flour, yam, and egg. However, you can add almost anything you like. The most common extras are beef, green onions, shrimp, vegetables, squid, cheese, and mochi.   


This is a one-pot dish that contains beef, vegetables, and tofu. These ingredients are cooked with a sweet, soy sauce broth in a shallow, cast iron pot. 

This dish was very popular during the Meiji period, after a centuries-long ban on eating meat was lifted. 

It is an ideal dish for enjoying Japan’s incredibly rich and tender wagyu beef.  


Sashimi refers to any thinly sliced raw food, including raw beef, chicken, horse, fish, and seafood. This dish was enjoyed by Japanese people centuries before they were eating sushi. 

Miso Soup

Miso soup may seem deceptively simple on the surface, but it’s an essential Japanese food that’s served with any traditional meal.

Traditionally, miso soup is made from dashi stock combined with miso bean paste to bring a savory umami element to any meal. Other ingredients can also be added depending on preference and season.   

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