Japan: Food                                                           

Check out what the Japanese eat and how it has changed from 1961-2011 by finding the "pie" chart for Japan on the right side!

Dobin mushi           

Clear fish bouillon soup with bits of chicken, ginko nuts, mushrooms and vegetables



The notorious blowfish with the fatally poisonous liver (the part not to be eaten), prepared by only licensed chefs, very expensive


Miso shiru              

Bean curd soup served at almost every meal



Cooked fish dish



Green tea



Chinese-style thin noodles



Choice parts of the best-quality fish sliced just before it is served, served raw


Shabu shabu          

Sliced beef and veggies swirled in boiling broth



Hors d’oeuvre of salted fish guts



Japanese-style buckwheat noodles



Clear soup with boiled vegetables



Choice beef sliced thin and sautéed in a rich sauce 



Salted fresh vegetables mixed with pieces of raw fish 



Savory, vinegared rice topped with raw fish (photo)



Boiled vegetables with tofu



Batter-dipped deep-friend seafood and vegetables



Japanese steak served on a hot slab of iron



Soy bean curd



Breaded pork cutlet with sauce



Charcoal-grilled freshwater eel


Yaki hamaguri       

Broiled clams



Grilled fish



Chunks of grilled chicken on bamboo skewers


Rice in the Japanese Culture

  • Rice has been a staple in the Japanese diet for centuries, but the Japanese have many uses for rice other than for eating. Historically rice has played a major role as a symbol of power and wealth in Japan. From ancient times until the end of World War II, not all Japanese were able to eat white rice. The poor ate barley, millet or occasionally brown rice. The fact that everybody can eat white rice today represents, to the Japanese, their nation’s new wealth.


  • Japanese etiquette says that you may lift your personal rice bowl close to your mouth with one hand, as you use the chopsticks to push the rice into your mouth.


  • Some common ways to prepare rice to eat include:

Sushi - Thinly sliced pieces of raw fish served on a small bed of rice. Seaweed is an important part of the Japanese diet, as well.

Rice Crackers and Cakes are usually served on special occasions such as festivals and during New Year celebrations. Rice with sweet red beans is a food traditionally served to someone on his or her birthday.

Mochi is a traditional and a very common rice-based food in Japan. It is made by pounding rice until it becomes a single mass of sticky dough, which is then steamed, toasted, or filled with sweets. Mochi is often eaten on festive occasions.


Paste is made from rice starch. The Japanese used to make paste at home using leftover rice. Rice (being planted in the photo) was considered so valuable and essential in Japanese life, that to throw out even a single grain was considered a terrible waste. Even today it is considered proper etiquette to finish every grain of rice in one’s bowl.

10 Things Not to do with Chopsticks

  1. Do not stick your chopsticks straight in to your rice bowl.
  2. Do not pick your teeth with your chopsticks.
  3. Do not hit the bowl or plate with your chopsticks.
  4. Do not point at people with your chopsticks.
  5. Do not rub your chopsticks together.
  6. Do not wave your chopsticks over the food trying to decide what to eat next.
  7. Do not spear the food with your chopsticks.
  8. Do not lick, suck or nibble the ends of your chopsticks.
  9. Do not eat food directly from the central plate but rather transfer it to your bowl first.
  10. Do not use chopsticks as drumsticks.