Japanese cuisine is one of the most popular foods worldwide, with sushi and ramen restaurants found all around the globe. Japan’s traditional cuisine, known as “washoku”, is prized for its balance of flavors, use of fresh and healthy vegetables, and focus on harmony with nature. Read on for a list of Japanese foods to try.
Shojin ryori is the traditional dining style of Buddhist monks in Japan, and grew widespread in popularity with the spread of Zen Buddhism in the 13th century. As the cuisine is made without meat, fish or other animal products, it can be enjoyed by vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
Fugu, Japanese pufferfish, is notorious for the highly toxic poison—tetrodotoxin—contained in its organs. Despite its deadly potential, fugu has been eaten in Japan for hundreds of years. As it was initially unknown how to properly prepare the fish, there were many fatalities from fugu consumption. For this reason, the eating of fugu was banned from around 1570 to 1870. These days fugu is commonly available in restaurants and supermarkets throughout Japan, but must be prepared by a licensed chef, and is prohibited to be prepared in the home—-even today, the Japanese royal family is forbidden from eating it.
Osechi ryori refers to a beautiful and delicious medley of traditional Japanese new year food, usually eaten during the first three days of the new year. It has been enjoyed in Japan since the Heian period, when it was actually considered taboo to cook food during those first three days! As such, women spent the last few days of the previous year cooking and preparing a variety of dishes that kept well and could be eaten over the holiday. The foods are stored in a traditional multi-tiered lacquer box called “jubako” and eaten at room temperature.
Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, is famed for its agricultural bounty, delicious milk and dairy products, and fine seafood. Sapporo, the prefecture’s capital and Japan’s fourth largest city, is a fantastic place to sample this high quality of dining. A charming destination with modern comforts amid turn-of-the-century red brick buildings, Sapporo offers a vibrant food scene that highlights Hokkaido’s excellent local ingredients.
Okonomiyaki is a regional dish from Osaka, a city from western Japan whose residents are well-known for their love of good food and good drink, especially with family or friends in tow. Osaka is home to a number of famous street foods, and okonomiyaki is one of the very best. Read on to learn exactly what okonomiyaki is, what’s different about two delectable styles it comes in, and most importantly, how to make okonomiyaki and enjoy it for yourself whether at home or dining out.
As the days grow cooler and the foliage turns to red and gold, the long humid days of Japanese summer give way to autumn, Japan’s traditional season of food and dining. Known as shokuyoku no aki, or the “season of hearty appetites,” the fall harvest is the best time to enjoy a bountiful selection of Japanese ingredients at their very peak. Read on for 13 autumnal ingredients as well as featured Japanese autumn food to try.
What is shabu-shabu? Simply put, this mysteriously-named dish is a popular style of nabemono, or Japanese hot pot, featuring paper-thin slices of tender meat and fresh vegetables cooked together in a large open pot. Unlike other types of hot pot, where the ingredients are cooked together before serving, shabu-shabu ingredients are served raw and cooked tableside during the meal, similar to fondue.
Japanese cuisine is among the most highly regarded in the world, and nowhere is Japan’s culinary prowess better demonstrated than in kaiseki elegantly presented dishes. It started as a simple meal meant to accompany Japanese cuisine. Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese tasting course comprised of many small, tea ceremonies, but over the centuries this culinary tradition has become the pinnacle of Japanese haute cuisine.
Japanese culture is famous for its emphasis on seasonality, a tradition that springs from the country’s varied climate with four distinct seasons and its Shinto background, a religion based on worshiping nature and natural forces. Even in modern times, this appreciation of all things natural can be seen in the various seasonal celebrations as well as Japan’s emphasis on eating foods at the peak of their seasonal freshness.