What to Eat in Japan – Best Food to Try in Japan

Planning a trip to the Land of the Rising Sun couldn’t be complete without a comprehensive list with traditional Japanese dishes to try on.

Knowing what to eat in Japan is a must, otherwise you will be overwhelmed with all the different options once you get there. The Japanese cuisine is based on simple ingredients, with meals consisting of miso soup, rice, and meat or fish. However, the Japanese food has so much flavour and is cooked in so different ways.

I have been getting into cooking Japanese dishes more often at home, discovering more and more amazing flavours, beyond sushi or miso soup. A few months ago, I’ve learned how to master the art of making Katsu curry, followed by Yakiniku a few weeks later. All of these have inspired me to take a trip to Japan as soon as possible. Until then though, I have asked my fellow blogger friends who have visited Japan to recommend me the best traditional food to eat in Japan. This is how this guide on the best food to try in Japan was born.  

Sushi

By Henry from This Life of Travel

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The number one food to try in Japan, famous all over the world, is sushi. It won’t be hard to find as sushi joints are one of the most popular foods in Japan.

But first, some history:

The origins of sushi date back all the way to the 4th century where Chinese journals mention salted fish being placed in cooked rice, causing fermentation to happen. This was thought to be introduced to Japan in the ninth century and tasted very different to the modern sushi of today.

Fast forward to the 1820’s – a guy named Hanaya Yohei thought it would be quicker to quick ferment the rice with some vinegar and just serve fresh fish from the harbor on top. This proved to be quite popular and became the foundation of modern sushi.

Sushi didn’t quite become popular worldwide until advances in refrigeration in the 1970’s allowed for exportation of fish over long distances. 

On to sushi… there are so many different types of sushi! It can be nigiri, sashimi, hand rolls, and much more. But in general it’s usually sushi rice, wasabi, and fish combined together. Sometimes a seaweed nori sheet is used to envelope the whole thing or wrap part of it. Most of the times the fish is served raw, but there are times when the fish is cooked (unagi) or just lightly torched.

You can eat your sushi with chopsticks or with your hands. When using the dipping sauce, you should only dip the fish in, not all the rice with it. 

Some people like to drink green tea or beer with their sushi, but you should just pick what you like best as your beverage.

For some of the best sushi in the world, you need to go to Japan. Iwa in Tokyo is a fantastic Michelin starred sushi restaurant that is affordable and one of the best in the world.

Tempura

By Rosie from Flying Fluskey

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If there is any food more comforting than something covered in carbs and deep-fried we don’t know what it is. Throughout the world variations of this this dish abound. In Japan, you will find probably the lightest version of this oily delight, tempura. Traditionally the pale batter is made with cold water, egg and plain flour, but many chefs now use sparkling water to help create a light and airy crisp. 

In theory absolutely anything can receive the temperature treatment but most often you will see seafood like ebi (prawn) or yasai (vegetables). Lotus root makes a particularly attractive piece. Tempura batter itself doesn’t have a great deal of taste, it is more about the textural experience. The flavour comes from the ingredients inside, which actually steam within the batter during the deep frying process.

The technique of deep frying food in batter was introduced to Japan in the 1600s by the Portuguese traders who came to the Port of Nagasaki. At first cooks fried balls of minced meat or fish but this slowly developed and whole items became more normal. In Japan you are most likely to see tempura served on top of a bowl of rice or noodles but it can also be considered a starter or a side dish.

Keep your eyes peeled for the addictive dashi-based dipping sauce that sometimes accompanies tempura in restaurants or for a more indulgent treat, you could opt for lashings of mayonnaise. Either way, it is a fun and crunchy addition to any Japanese dining experience. 

Tonkatsu

By Anna from Anna Sherchand

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One of the best dish to eat during a 3 week in Japan itinerary is Tonkatsu. Not to be confused with “Tonkotsu”. Yep, it is crazy to think that one single letter can completely change your order! Tonkotsu in translation means “pig bone,” but just pig bone wouldn’t be a nice dinner so usually it is referring to a broth which is made from pork bones. It is made by boiling pork meat and bones together, thus creating a thick and hearty broth with a meaty flavor. The soup has a milky consistency much like miso, so don’t get confused about which one you want to order! 

On the other hand, the word Tonkatsu, “ton” means the same “pig, or pork”, and “katsu” is a shortened version of “katsuretsu”, which means “cutlet” in Japanese and is usually fried. Hence, Tonkatsu is a fried pork, which is exactly what it is. It was invented in Japan in 1899 at a Tokyo restaurant called Rengatei. Originally called yokoshu but in the 1930s the term “tonkatsu” (pork katsu) was adopted.

It tastes crunchy from outside but soft melts in your mouth pork cutlet in the inside. A deep fried pork cutlet with rice, salad and miso soup is considered a traditional Japanese lunch. Don’t miss the Katsu sauce or Tonkatsu sauce with it, which is basically Japanese-style BBQ sauce for fried meats. Yum!

Japanese Curry

By Kathryn from Mandala Meadow

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While most people first thoughts of curry bring India or even Thailand to mind, Japanese Curry is not to be overlooked.

Originating in India, curry was introduced to Japan by the British in the Meiji era (1868–1912), and it spread across the country with regional variations soon emerging including oyster curry from Hiroshima Prefecture and Nashi pear curry from Shimane Prefecture to name but two.

Whether with fish, meat or simply vegetables, Japanese curry tends to be thicker and less spicy than its Indian or Thai counterparts. It’s also a little sweeter due to ingredients such as to caramelised onion, apple and carrot. It may be served with rice, bread, or noodles but rice is by far the most popular. If you serve it with panko-crumbed cutlets of pork or chicken, it’s known as Katsu curry.

Making Japanese curry at home needn’t be time-consuming as there is some very good curry roux available in different strengths of spiciness, although do keep in mind that even the hottest is less spicy than other curries. To make the curry your own try combining different brands of roux and adding your own ingredients such as grated apple, honey or even a little ketchup.

Finally, Japanese curry is usually garnished with pickled vegetables and while it may be on the thick side, you’ll want to eat it with a spoon rather than chopsticks. 

Miso Soup

By Daria from The Discovery Nut

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Miso soup is a Japanese dish that is made from miso paste, dashi (a regular Japanese soup stock), tofu, seaweed, and vegetables.

The flavorful and comforting miso soup (or miso shiru in Japanese) is a staple of many Japanese restaurants across the world, and you can find it in any country. However, miso is believed to have originated in China and brought to Japan by Buddhist priests who cooked it with soybeans and grains. 

But miso soup has gone a long since that time: today it is made with various ingredients in different parts of Japan. For example, you can typically try miso with barley in the south and rice in the northern part of Japan.

What’s interesting is that while miso soup is served as an appetizer in Western countries, in Japan it comes with rice as part of the main course. And you can find it in any eatery: From casual restaurants in Tokyo’s districts like Shibuya to upscale places in Ginza, miso soup is a Japanese classic! 

Still, you don’t have to go to a restaurant to enjoy miso soup because it is easy to replicate. 

Most of the ingredients can be purchased at a regular grocery store, and miso paste can be found in stores selling Asian food. And the cooking process involves prepping vegetables, cooking the paste, and making sure everything tastes great.

Ramen

By Rose from Where Goes Rose?

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You can’t beat a hearty bowl of ramen anywhere in the world but of course, it’s best served in Japan, the home of the dish. It’s usually made with wheat noodles in a meat or fish broth flavoured with soy sauce or miso and topped with pork and nori (seaweed sheets).

Ramen is not to be confused with other Asian noodle soups such as pho from Vietnam which is made with flat rice noodles rather than round wheat noodles. Ramen is nowadays a popular dish associated with Japanese cuisine so many people will be surprised to learn it actually originated in China, like many noodle-based dishes around the globe. It initially became popular in Japan as a quick, affordable dish for the working class but its availability was soon stunted by WWII rationing. 


Luckily, ramen noodles had a comeback and boomed in popularity in the 80s and 90s. It’s no surprise why – ramen is a hearty and warming dish with a salty flavour and rich, succulent meat. There are many types of ramen: shoyu ramen made with soy sauce, miso ramen and shio ramen flavoured with salt. The salty taste is heightened by the nori sheets and often a pink and white swirl of narutomaki, a type of fish cake. A gooey half-boiled is the perfect final addition to this world-famous Japanese dish.

Gyoza

By Sylvia from Wapiti Travel

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Gyozas have been around for centuries. You will find them on the menu all over Japan but there’s no better place to check them out than Osaka, known as ‘the kitchen of Japan’.  Each Osaka itinerary should include some time to explore the many food stalls lining the brightly lit streets after dark.

Purists may point out that Gyoza’s are actually a Chinese dish.  The snack did indeed originate in China and was introduced in Japan by the Japanese soldiers who returned home after World War II.  Over the years Japan has given its own twist to the dish.  Where the original Chinese variant is boiled, Japanese Gyozas are steamed and fried making them soft on top and a little crispy at the bottom.

The most common filling is a pork mince, chives, garlic and cabbage mix.  The garlic flavor is usually more pronounced compared with those found in Chinese dumplings.  Hundreds of tasty creative fillings have popped up in recent years.  You will also find duck and chicken gyoza’s on menus, to name just a few.

Indifferent from the filling the snack is enjoyed with a sauce made of soy sauce, vinegar and chili oil. 

Try this tasty snack at izakayas, as an appetizer in restaurants or as a snack from a street food stall.

Okonomiyaki

By Noel from This Hawaii Life

Okonomiyaki

If you are planning on visiting Japan some day and looking for local food that you might want to try, consider Okonomiyaki. A very popular street food dish and easy take away, you’ll find Okonomiyaki at street vendor stalls, food court eateries and even the basement areas of many popular Japanese department stores that have specialty foodie areas. Okonomiyaki is fast and perfect for street food and made basically a savory version of a pancake and filled with shredded cabbage, a protein or seafood and kim chee or a variety of condiments and spice to give it some kick. Each region specializes in offering a different specialty with a local ingredient or twist to make this their own unique flavor. Even though the savory dish has protein, you can also order it as a vegetarian version with no protein added or some substitute included. 

Okonomiyaki has always been a local favorite at public events and gatherings along with popular take out establishments as a fast food take away meal. When you visit Japan, make sure you try this savory dish and also compare the differences to the many areas that you travel around the country.

Kushikatsu

By Katie from Two Wandering Soles

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Kushi, referring to “skewer”, and katsu, meaning “fried”, this Japanese snack is just what it sounds like: deep-fried foods on a stick. While you can find variations of kushikatsu around the country, the best place to try this deep fried snack is in Osaka, particularly the Shinsekai district where it first became famous. 

Kushikatsu had a relatively short history compared to many of Japan’s dishes. Its humble beginnings date back to the late 1920s when a bar owner in Osaka added this tasty snack to the menu for the blue-collar workers that frequented the establishment. It was a quick hit and spread to other menus around the city. This inexpensive and satisfying dish is still enjoyed by Japanese people and visitors alike today. 

Eating as much as your stomach (and wallet!) can handle is one of the best things to do in Osaka. Luckily, kushikatsu is both tasty and cheap, so fill up!

Ingredients used range from pieces of meat to all sorts of vegetables, which are breaded with panko, fried and served with a rich, savory dipping sauce made with a mix of Worcestershire, soy sauce and other ingredients. Each kushikatsu shop has its own version of this sauce, so sample it at a few different establishments. Just don’t double-dip, as the sauce is communal.

For a variety of flavors, try shiitake, lotus root, and beef kushikatsu for starters and order any others that strike your fancy.

Japanese Barbecue – Yakiniku

By Fuad from A Walk in the World

Yakiniku

In many parts of the world, grilled or barbecued meats are popular. If you are in Japan, you will hear about Yakiniku – the Japanese grilled meat. Get into a restaurant serving Yakiniku, see the menu, and order it. Whilst you will be browsing through your mobile or listening to a song, they would bring marinated bite sized raw beef meat on a tray alongside a pair of. Then the waiter will bring a Gridiron, put it in front of you and flame it. They would even give you some ice cubes too. 

If these surprises you, take a look at the surrounding tables and you will understand what to do. 

Take a slice of meat and place it on the grill seating on a cosy setup in a Japanese restaurant. It will only take a few minutes to cook. Take it off and eat it with the sauces known as tare given with it. While you take the warm food off, put more meat on the grill to be cooked. Like many, you will find this experience amazing – to make the barbecue and eat it simultaneously. There are different varieties of Yakiniku on the menu, make sure to try multiple of them. All of them taste different, however they are juicy and delicious! No wonder this has become one of the most popular foods in Japan. Although Yakiniku is known as the Japanese Barbecue in many parts of the world, its origin is believed to be from Korea. If the meat used it poultry instead of beef, the dish is known as Yakitori. Do not forget to eat it and read these fantastic tips while you are in Japan. 

Kobe Beef

By Talek from Travels with Talek

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Situated on a deep-water bay about 260 miles (420km) southwest of Tokyo is the ancient, and very cosmopolitan, city of Kobe.  

Kobe’s main claim to fame is the delectable Kobe beef, but the city is also famous for being the birthplace of karaoke, having the best sake and being the country’s jazz hot spot.  Kobe is also home to the remarkable Himeiji Castle, one of Japan’s original 12 castles and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Despite the city’s numerous and impressive charms, when you say Kobe, you think beef, and with good reason. Kobe beef hails from a pampered and pure blood line of Wagyu black cattle. Only 5000 of these prized cattle are sold a year worldwide. That explains the rarity and price of a Kobe beef meal.  

Restaurants specializing in Kobe meals can be found throughout the city. Typically, the meal begins with a light appetizer. The main dish is presented differently than is typical in many western countries. Rather than a slab of meat, the beef is sliced and surrounded with small dollops of sauces or vegetables leaving no doubt that the beef is the main attraction.  The meat is everything you imagine a great cut of beef to be, succulent, tender and flavorful.

A really nice lunch experience for two at one of the many restaurants specializing in Kobe beef will run you about 8,000 to 10,000 yen depending on drinks. The restaurant visit coupled with the meal makes for a delightful and authentic Japan experience.

Hida Beef

By Meg from Have Toothbrush Will Travel

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Takayama located in Hida, the northern part of the Gifu prefecture, is an old city nestled in the mountains. Takayama has two local specialties: pure sake brewed in its cool climate and local Hida beef (Hida-gyu). Hida beef comes from a breed of black cattle raised in the region for at least 14 months. It’s suspected that the fresh air and clean water of the region results in extremely tender, premium meat. 

When tasting Hida beef, it’s important that you understand how meat is graded. The beef is some of the highest quality you can find, thanks in large part to its exquisite marbling, firmness, and high yield. Due to the high quality of the meat, Hida beef can be quite expensive although you may not find a better cut of meat than Hida. A trip to Takayama would not be complete without trying Hida beef.

The popular ways Hida beef is prepared include Japanese barbecue, hot pot style, and sometimes served as sashimi. From Takayama to Shirakawago, you won’t have any trouble finding Hida beef in its various forms. In Shirakawago for example, we discovered a unique and savory way to enjoy Hida beef; folded into the center of a mouthwatering steam bun. A hot Hida beef bun is the perfect way to end a day trip to the ancient village of Shirakawago, another highlight of traveling to this region of Japan.

Kaiseki Ryori

By Chloe from Chloe’s Travelogue

Kaiseki Ryori - Chloe's Travelogue

When it comes to ryokan stay in Japan, you may first imagine soaking in hot spring water and sleeping on a futon bed rolled out in a tatami-floored room. But for food travelers, the highlight of the ryokan stay is kaiseki ryori. 

Kaiseki is a multi-course dinner served in a ryokan (i.e., traditional Japanese lodging). Traditionally, ryokan guests check-in, take a hot spring bath and change into yukata. Then, the host delivers kaiseki dinner to the room. 

The dinner first starts with a plum wine or local-specialty liquor. The meal follows as the guests sit on a low table and savor regional treats at the comfort of their room.  

Besides the cultural aspects, kaiseki is a unique culinary experience; it features seasonal ingredients and local specialties – such as Hida Beef. 

When visiting the Hida Takayama region in the Japanese Alps, try local signature food – Hida beef (“Hidagyu”). Hida beef may not be as well-known as Kobe beef outside of Japan. However, its top-quality beef cut is popular among local connoisseurs for its gorgeous marbling. 

The gourmet beef is famous for its buttery and savory flavors. Once you try, you will never forget the sensation of a piece of juicy meat dissolving in your mouth. 

The city of Takayama fully embrace and proudly promote Hidagyu in every beef products you can imagine. But the most exciting and cultural way to savor its local delicacy would be at your ryokan. What best represent traditional Japanese dishes than kaiseki ryori, anyway?

Oden

By Kenny from Knycx Journeying

Oden

Tokyo is filled with old-fashioned, traditional restaurant with a history of over a hundred years. Like Tokoyuu is an old restaurant in Ueno, which is closely located to the Ueno Park – a great place to view Hydrangea in early summer, or simply have a pleasant walk to get away from the hustle and bustle. 

The Izakaya-style restaurant has a comfortable and intimate environment, serving only oden, yet it has a lot on their menu. Oden is a traditional Japanese hot-pot with all sorts of ingredients boiling in a slightly sweet-and-salty soy sauce-based broth. Most commonly found ingredients include boiled eggs, daikon, konjac, shirataki noodles, fish cakes, bean curd, and so much more.  

The hot pot is boiled for a long period of time to make sure the ingredients have perfectly absorbed the flavor of the broth and become soft and tender – remember to try the daikon and bean curds, as they soak up the broth fully when cooked. 

Oden could be eaten all year round; however, it is a popular comfort dish, especially in winter, for diners to get warmed up sitting by a hot pot. In a restaurant like Takoyuu, the menu is usually in Japanese only, but don’t worry, simply point to the food you like in the pot, and the lady in the bar will serve them to you.  

Abura Soba

By Lotte from Phenomenal Globe Travel Blog

Abura Soba - Phenomenal Globe Travel Blog

While most people have tried a bowl of ramen, a typical (and delicious) Japanese dish, Abura Soba (also known as Maze Soba) isn’t that well-known. Abura Soba translates into Oil Noodles, it is a soupless noodle dish with an oily base made from soy sauce and pork grease that contains lots of flavor. Typical toppings include spring onions, nori, vegetable tempura, sesame seeds, chashu (braised pork meat) and most importantly, a raw or runny egg.  

While there is no dish in the world quite like Abura Soba, the one that’s most similar is Spaghetti Carbonara. It has the same rich creamy texture and both these dishes look deceivingly simple, yet they are packed with flavor.  

The first Abura Soba was created in the Kitatama district of Tokyo in the 1950s. Nowadays, the dish is available all over Japan so no matter if you are making a road trip on Hokkaido, wooshing your way around Honshu in a bullet-train or if you are islandhopping in Okinawa, you are bound to come across a restaurant selling Abura Soba. It tastes slightly different every time you order a bowl, but it’s always delicious!  

When your bowl of Abura Soba is brought to your table, all ingredients and toppings are separated and beautifully presented. However, the proper way to enjoy this dish is to mix all the ingredients together. This way, all the different flavors and textures in the dish come together perfectly and will make it a very memorable meal!  

Yaki Udon

By Helen from Different Ville

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Udon are thick wheat flour noodles and while you might most commonly find them served in soup, Yaki means to pan-fry and that changes everything!

Order a plate of yaki udon,  and yes, you’ll get a simple sounding dish of fried noodles, with a savoury, often soy-based, sauce and some little meat and vegetables; but the combination of the sauce and the way it’s cooked – in a super high-temperature wok – means the noodles take on the most wonderful smoky taste. Combine that with the chewy udon noodles and it’s a must eat!

You’ll find yaki udon all over Japan today but that wouldn’t have been the case had a little restaurant in Kokura, Western Japan not run out of the soba noodles they usually used for frying. It was during the war and all they had left due to rationing was udon and so they fried those instead – and, the dish was born. Tourists raved about it and it started being made elsewhere in Japan too. The restaurant, Darumado is still standing and definitely one of top things to do in Kokura.

Today, you might find the flavour varies slightly depending upon where you try it – in Kokura, for example, they use cabbage and it often comes topped with a fried egg. In Okinawa you might find it has a more tomatoey flavour.  Wherever you try it though, Yaki udon is most commonly served in izakaya-style restaurants as it’s a great accompaniment to beer! Kanpai to that!

Mizusawa Udon

By Eunice from Eunice Tan

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Udon is one of the most popular types of noodles in Japan but even within the category of Udon noodles exist different styles. One of the top three variations of udon in Japan is the Mizusawa udon, which is famed for its taste and commitment to quality. Hailing from Shibukawa city in Gunma Prefecture, the origin of the Mizusawa udon dates back over 400 years ago where devotees to the Mizusawa temple are offered the udon to fill their stomachs. 


The udon has to be made using spring water from Mount Haruna, a dormant volcano in the same prefecture, domestic wheat flour and natural salt. It is said that there’s a special kneading technique, which contributes to the distinct firm yet chewy texture of the thick noodles. The noodles are elastic, smooth, and have an almost gummy-like texture to them. The Mizusawa udon also has a registered trademark and noodles without this trademark are not genuine Mizusawa udon! 


There are more than 10 restaurants near the Mizusawa temple that serves the udon and this stretch of establishments has earned the moniker “Mizusawa Udon Highway”. The udon noodles go well with a variety of soups and can also be served chilled with a soy dipping sauce.

Hitsumabushi

By Lena from Nagoya is not Boring

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If you happen to visit Nagoya during your travels in Japan, you cannot miss one of the cities most famous dishes: Hitsumabushi.
Hitsumabushi is charcoal-grilled eel served with a sweet soy sauce-based sauce on a bed of rice. While you can find different dishes made from eel all over the country, Hitsumabushi is the most delicious way to eat Japanese eel.

The origin of the dish Hitsumabushi itself is not known in detail but it is believed to have originated from the end of the Edo to the beginning of the Meiji Period (1868-1912) in Nagoya. As eel has always been an expensive delicacy it was considered wasteful to throw away cut off or misshaped pieces of grilled eel. They were served to customers served on a bed of rice, which is where today’s Hitsumabushi is believed to have originated from.

When you order Hitsumabushi at a restaurant in Nagoya you will get it on a try together with a serving bowl, a wooden spoon, condiments, a can with broth, a soup, and some pickles.

The way Hitsumabushi is eaten makes the dish so special. First, divide your eel and rice into 4 servings. Place the first serving into your bowl and enjoy the original flavor. For the second serving add condiments such as Wasabi, and Sansho (a kind of spice) as well as green onions. The third serving makes use of the broth which when poured over the rice and eel changes the dish into a soupy experience. The last serving is for you to enjoy however you liked best.

Oysters

By Sydney from A World in Reach

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One of the best seafood dishes to enjoy while visiting Japan are the famous Japanese oysters. There are four different oyster regions in Japan, Hokkaido, Hiroshima, Miyagi, and Iwate, each having their own variety of oysters. Oysters are also served up in several different ways, including raw oysters, fried oysters, and oyster sushi, among several others.

Hiroshima, one of the best cities to visit in Japan, is popular for tourists visiting the country and is a great place to sample Japan’s famous oysters. Hiroshima oysters are most often served raw with ponzu, a citrus-based soy sauce, or deep-fried in a tempura batter. When visiting Hiroshima, make sure to take a day trip to Miyajima Island to sample some of the best oysters in the region.

Miyajima, the island known for its giant floating torii gate, is also known for its delicious oysters. In fact, the island even hosts the Miyajima Oyster Festival each February! Visiting for the festival is a great way to try out a variety of oyster dishes. If you’re not going to be in town for the festival, make sure to pay a visit to Yakigaki No Hayashi, a restaurant known for having some of the best oysters in Miyajima. You can also grab delicious oysters from the various stalls along Miyajima Omotesando Shopping Street.

Japanese Temple Food

By Cassie from Cassie the Hag

nagi shikoku - vegan restaurant in tokyo

While there might not be so much as a single vegetarian option in the average Japanese restaurants, it’s easy once you know where to look.

Due to the Buddhist culture in Japan, it isn’t hard to find vegan temple food in most regions and cities. These dishes do vary in exact ingredients, but it’s essentially based around soybean-based foods (such as mock meats and seasonal vegetables) and is named ‘Shojin Ryori’. You can visit dining halls in Buddhist temples or find variations in small vegan restaurants across Japan – use the ‘Happy Cow’ app to find the nearest vegan food while on the road.

The food is very tasty and flavourful, since it follows the rule of five and brings out all five key flavours – sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami – naturally from the ingredients. It is made to be both balanced in colour, flavour and nutrition. Though not traditional, some of these meals do now use eggs and milk, so double-check this if you’re vegan and it isn’t a specifically vegan restaurant. Since the meals are generally made up of a few small bites, it’s perfect if you like to try a variety of flavours too.

Owakudani Valley Black Egg

By Melissa from Parenthood and Passports

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Having a black egg in Owakudani Valley isn’t as much about the taste as it is the experience. Owakudani is a volcanic valley where sulfur continually vents from the ground filling the air with a pungent steam. Often referred to as the “Valley of Hell”, this ominous-looking crater near the town of Hakone, Japan, is a popular stop for those doing a Hakone day trip. And the main reason for visiting is to partake in one of Owakudani’s famous black eggs. 

The eggs are boiled in the natural spring water from the valley, which contains sulfur and iron. The boiling process and the minerals in the water turn the egg’s outer shell black. While some may shy away from eating a black egg based on its outer appearance, once peeled, the egg looks and tastes like a traditional hard-boiled egg.

However, the eggs are not eaten for their taste, but for the legend surrounding them. It is said in Japan that eating one of Owakudani’s black eggs adds 7 years to your life. You can also hike up to a natural spring and witness the boiling process. The short walk is worth it for a freshly boiled egg. But if you do not feel like a brief hike, the eggs are sold in the Owakudani gift shop, as well. 

What to eat in Japan - Food to try in Japan

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27 thoughts on “What to Eat in Japan – Best Food to Try in Japan

  1. Ildiko says:

    Loved this post. Will be very handy, as Japan is on my short bucket list. The presentation of their foods is spectacular. Looking at your photos, there is not much I would not eat. Looks delicious. I was surprised to see so much red meat in their diet. I guess I expected it to be primarily fish. Interesting also how you wrote that one should not dip their rice into the dipping sauce when eating sushi, only the fish. Ok, I’ve been doing it all wrong. LOL!

  2. EvBeing says:

    I have not yet been to Japan but I love chinese food and taste chinese where I live and on my travels around the world! I love Katsu curry and miso soup

  3. Daphna says:

    Everything looks amazing! I would love to try all of these. My only concern would be the cost…my kids eat a ton! Will need to make an extra large food budget. 😉

  4. Char says:

    Obsessed with this post!! Japan is first on my travel bucket list for when restrictions end and I can’t wait to look back on this post for when I’m out there.

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