Traditional food of japan

5 Minutes

Japanese food has become a loved cuisine worldwide, and many people visit Japan solely to experience the country’s authentic local cuisine. You’ll find that majority of Japanese cuisine involves rice, noodles, seafood and vegetables, as well as dishes that contain seasonal ingredients.  

Japan is very passionate about the preparation and intricate presentation of their food, so much so that it is even considered an art form. The country’s local cuisine offers an endless number of rich and unique flavours in each city that are must to try out during your visit. 

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Food to try in Japan


One of the most popular sweets in Japan, Dorayaki is a palm-sized dessert that consists of two pancakes sandwiched together with a sweet red bean paste. While this is a classic option, other popular fillings include white bean paste, sweet potato or matcha green tea. You can find this dessert at the very popular Usagiya, a store located in Tokyo’s Ueno district. 



Gyoza japanese dumplings on a plate

You’ll find this dish in almost any Japanese restaurant that you come across. Usually served as an appetiser, Gyoza is a fried and steamed dumpling filled with cabbage, scallions, ground meat, garlic, and ginger. This dish is served with rice and a dipping sauce consisting of soy sauce, vinegar and chilli oil. 


The perfect dish if you’re looking for something quick and easy to eat, Gydon is a meal you will find at most Japanese food chains. Consisting of sliced beef and rice, this delicious dish is topped off with onion or a cooked egg and seasoned with soy sauce. 


Considered a staple dish in Osaka, Kushikatsu is a deep-fried skewered meat or vegetable dish. One of the best places to try Kushikatsu is at Daruma, also known as Angry Chef, a well-known store in Osaka that is famous for serving this dish.


This is a savoury pancake that is made out of yam and cabbage. Okonomiyaki is commonly known as ‘grilled as you like it’, as you have the choice to top off the pancake with either seafood, pork, cheese or tomato. To finish it off, mayonnaise, a sweet sauce called okonomiyaki sauce, seaweed and fish flakes are added on top. One of the most popular places to experience this dish is in Hiroshima, which has its own unique method of layering the ingredients to create a tower. 


Ramen is a popular dish that you can find everywhere, whether in shops tucked away in hidden streets or even food stalls, train stations and department store food halls. It is a noodle soup dish that is served with a variety of toppings to choose from. Some of these include Negi (chopped leeks), seaweed, corn, butter or chashu (roasted pork). An interesting place to experience this well-loved dish is at the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, the world’s first food-themed amusement park!




Soba are noodles that are made from buckwheat flour and originate from Tokyo. While Soba is available to eat throughout the year, some Soba dishes are only available seasonally. Even more interesting is Toshikoshi Soba, as it is traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve and symbolises crossing from one year to the next. 


This wouldn’t be a Japan food guide without talking about one of the most loved Japanese dishes around the world – sushi! Sushi is a dish containing rice and is prepared with sushi vinegar and topped off with seafood. It is usually eaten during special occasions and can be found anywhere in Japan from high-end restaurants to ‘kaitenzushi’ restaurants, which serve this dish on conveyor belts.



Taiyaki is the perfect dessert for those who have a major sweet tooth. It is a type of cake made into the shape of a fish and is often filled with chocolate, custard or even the more traditional option of red bean paste. The reason behind the dessert’s fish shape has an interesting history behind it which dates back to the late 1800s. During this time, sea bream was considered an expensive fish that was only purchased for special occasions. Due to the value of the sea bream, the shape of Taiyaki was changed from round to fish-shaped and is a much-loved dessert today. 


If you’re feeling more adventurous, keep a lookout for Takoyaki, otherwise known as ‘octopus balls’. Takoyaki are balls of dough containing octopus meat and is very popular in areas like Osaka. This dish is also served with a choice between dried fish flakes or Takoyaki sauce. The best place to try Takoyaki is in Osaka where it originates from and can be found at both street stalls and restaurants. 



Tempura is a batter that is made up of a simple mixture of water, flour and egg. While vegetables were commonly used for tempura, deep-fried seafood is also a popular option today. Tempura is usually served either as a main dish, side dish, or topping for udon noodle dishes and rice bowls.


Udon is a type of noodle made up of wheat, flour, water and salt. It is usually topped with ingredients such as tempura or fried tofu. One place to experience this in Dontonbori, Osaka’s food haven, at award-winning ramen bar, Kinguemon.

Other Japan Food FAQ

What is the best city for Japanese Food?

One city all foodies will want to add to their itinerary is Osaka, as it is considered the country’s food capital. However, many people who visit Osaka go to explore Dotonbori, the food hub of the city. Here you will find endless food stalls and the chance to sample many unique local food dishes. Note – While exploring Dotonbori, look out for the famous Glico billboard, a well known Japanese food company! 

Should you tip in Japan?

Refrain from tipping when you are dining at a restaurant as this is often frowned upon and not something that is expected in Japan

Quick food in Japan? Vending Machine food in Japan.

Aside from restaurants and food stalls, food is readily available everywhere you go in Japan. For busy travellers, a quick and easy food option is vending machines. Many restaurants will have vending machines outside of their front entrance, where you can order meals such as ramen, which is then served to you once you are seated.  

Useful phrases for tourists in Japan. Food.

Irrashiaimase: ‘welcome’ – used to greet customers.
sumimasen: ’excuse me.’
Oishii/Oishikatta: ‘delicious.’
okaikei onegaishimasu: ‘check, please.’ 
Betsu-betsu: ‘paying separately.’


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