10 Best Traditional Food and Dishes in Japan

One of the most famous and best cuisines in the world comes from Japan and there’s a good basis for this. Japanese traditional food or what the locals call washoku is based on their rule of thumb that highlights balance and variation in their cooking. This is obtained using five methods (boiling, grilling, steaming, frying and raw food), five colors (red, green, black yellow and white) and five flavors ( salty, sweet, bitter, sour and spicy). These concepts can be seen even in a simple serving of rice and soup paired with three dishes. Japanese cuisine is highly valued all over the world because of its superb taste, the use of only the freshest and the best quality of ingredients and their food, and also aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. If you want to know more, listed below are the top ten traditional dishes in Japan.

1. Sushi

Best Traditional Food in Japan - Sushi

Sushi, is hands down, included in the most famous foods internationally that originates from Japan. Sushi comes from the procedure of using fermented rice to preserve fish, a process devised during ancient times. But today, they are using vinegared rice to their fresh fish in different forms and ways, that enhances the food presentation.


2. Tempura

Best Traditional Food in Japan - Tempura

Tempura is basically any food, vegetable or fish that was battered then fried. Special attention is given to each ingredient, from the method of cutting the main ingredients up to batter and oil’s temperature which should be ice cold and very hot, respectively, so that when deep-fried will produce perfectly crispy fried.


3. Kaiseki

Best Traditional Food in Japan - Kaiseki

The epitome of Japanese haute cuisine, kaiseki is a tasting menu composed of several small portions of dishes and usually seasonally themed and carefully put together as one meal with high precision and with attentiveness to every detail. It originated from customary tea ceremonies where they served small portions of food together with a bitter-tasting green tea, and eventually, these servings became a multi-course fine cuisine.


4. Yakitori

Best Traditional Food in Japan - Yakitori

Yakitori is bite-sized chicken on a skewer and then grilled. Not much is wasted here, as it uses every piece of the chicken, like the liver, heart and surprisingly chicken comb because avoiding waste is an important part of their food culture. Yakitori is different from their other traditional foods as it was only started to be eaten in the mid 17th century, because for centuries, it was considered taboo to eat meat.


5. Tsukemono Pickles

Best Traditional Food in Japan - Tsukemono Pickles

Tsukemono pickles have been part of Japanese cuisine as long as in prehistoric times. It is composed of wide choices of vegetables like eggplant and daikon radish and some fruits too, for example, ume plum. Aside from adding appeal to the meal because of its bright colors, tsukemono is also considered as an exceptionally healthy food.


6. Soba

Best Traditional Food in Japan - Soba

Soba is made out of buckwheat flour, its noodle firm, thin and long in shape and considered to be very healthy. Soba has been part of Japanese cuisine for centuries. Same as udon, soba can be eaten cold adding dipping sauce or as a hot stock, which makes it deliciously perfect for eating all year round.


7. Udon

Best Traditional Food in Japan - Udon

Udon is made of wheat flour and is a chewy and thick noodle. It is one of Japan’s most famous foods because it is delicious, inexpensive and versatile – it can be served cold or hot and comes with a wide variety of toppings. There are several ways to eat udon and these three regional udon are the most famous: from the central part of Japan, Nagoya, kishimen; from southwest Japan in Kagawa, their sanuki udon; and from northern Japan, in Akita, their inaniwa udon.


8. Sukiyaki

Best Traditional Food in Japan - Sukiyaki

Sukiyaki is a dish composed of vegetables, tofu and beef cooked with broth of sweet-tasting soy sauce in a shallow iron pot. It became highly famous in the Meiji period when the Japanese were finally allowed to eat meat after it was banned for centuries. Sukiyaki makes the perfect dish to enjoy its flavorful and soft wagyu beef.


9. Miso soup

Best Traditional Food in Japan - Miso soup

Miso soup can be tricky simple but nonetheless an essential part of any traditional Japanese dish. Its soup comes from dashi broth- either kelp or fish broth – mixed with paste of miso bean to bring the umami element, which is savory to any dish. Slices of green onions and tofu are also included and ingredients like fish, pork, clams or any ingredients that is in season.

10. Sashimi

Best Traditional Food in Japan - Sashimi

Centuries ago, people of Japan were already eating sushi, raw fish but without the rice. Sashimi is any raw food that is thinly sliced, it can be (tori-zashi) raw chicken, raw fish, (gyuu-sashi) raw beef, raw seafood or even (basashi) raw horse, and these are some of the most famous varieties.

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