Food and Drink in Japan

Japanese food is the best. There, I said it. Japan offers gastronomic experiences any visitors will enjoy and remember for ever

If your only experience of Japanese food is some dried up 'sushi' from the supermarket - then get yourself to Japan at some point in your life and try the food. All the food.

Japan prides itself on its food, and food is deeply rooted in Japanese culture. Three of the top-five cities in the world for Michelin-starred restaurants are in Japan, with Tokyo having the most. The quality of supermarkets and convenience stores and the passion and ritual of traditional home-cooked meals is unrivaled around the world.

There's a huge variety to Japanese food, too. Westerners are often only exposed to sushi or pan-asian restaurant chains which don't really represent the wide range of food available in Japan. In addition to the typical raw fish sushi and sashimi, Japanese meals include noodles (hundreds of different types) with and without soup, deep-fried dishes like tempura and karage (chicken), grilled battered or stewed fish, chicken, beef and pork, rice dishes like Donburi and cooking experiences like teppanyaki and okonomiyaki. There's a million combinations, and many ways that Japanese food is prepared, cooked and served.

One thing that you'll notice in Japan is that meals often comprise several different elements and lots of little dishes. It's like tapas gone mad, and great fun to try everything.

Food oddities in Japan include breakfast. For westerners used to cereal or toast (maybe an egg here or there) it comes as a surprise to eat what seems like a lunch or dinner type meal for breakfast. Also for vegetarians, Japan is a tricky country to visit, as many foods are prepare with fish stock or have fish additives.

On the other hand, good food is easily available from combini convenience stores, which makes travelling in Japan easy. Being able to buy bento boxes or onigiri rice balls for picnics means you don't need to speak the language to get some food while travelling.

And drinks? Well the two things that stand out for me about drinking in Japan are ice-cold lager beers in frozen tankards, and sake. Wine tends to be imported from the usual old & new world locations, so stick to what the Japanese do best - great beer and great rice wine. There's also a huge variety of weird and wonderful soft drinks available from the combini (convenience stores) and vending machines - try the aloe juice and barley tea (Mugicha - 麦茶)!

Here's our favourite foody places and ideas around Japan:


Try Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki at Okonomi-mura

Try Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki at Okonomi-mura

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake, stacked full of ingredients such as meat, fish and vegetables. At Okonomi-mura in Hiroshima you can try Okonomiyaki from dozens of small restaurants.

Hiroshima, Food, Restaurants


Onegiya Fukuromachi izakaya, Hiroshima

Onegiya Fukuromachi izakaya, Hiroshima

An excellent izakaya located in central Hiroshima, with great food and atmosphere

Hiroshima, Restaurants, food, beer, Isakaya


Tendan Yakiniku restaurant, Kyoto

Tendan Yakiniku restaurant, Kyoto

Visit this yakiniku (barbeque) restaurant in Kyoto for a fun night cooking your own food

Kyoto, food, restaurants, yakiniku


Golden Gai - Tokyo's hidden micro bars

Golden Gai - Tokyo's hidden micro bars

Visit this hidden corner of Shinjuku and drink with the locals

Tokyo, nightlife, bars, beer


Isetan food hall, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Isetan food hall, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Dazzle your senses in the best deli you've ever seen at Isetan Shinjuku

Tokyo, Department Stores, Shopping, Lunch, Food


How to book restaurants in Japan

How to book restaurants in Japan

It's not always easy to contact and speak with restaurants in Japan, so let someone else do it for you!

Restaurants, food, hotels


Late night food in Shinjuku at Alps izakaya

Late night food in Shinjuku at Alps izakaya

Cheap eats at a backstreet izakaya in Shinjuku

Tokyo, Shinjuku, Food, Pub


Enjoy fabulous sushi in Shibuya, Tokyo at the impressive but good value Gonpachi Sushi restaurant

Enjoy fabulous sushi in Shibuya, Tokyo at the impressive but good value Gonpachi Sushi restaurant

Visit this excellent sushi restaurant in Shibuya, Tokyo, for delicious and well-priced sushi, served over the counter or with table service

Tokyo, Shibuya, Food, Restaurants, Sushi


Izakaya Hiromichi in Ibusuki, Kyushu, is an intimate sake pub with great food

Izakaya Hiromichi in Ibusuki, Kyushu, is an intimate sake pub with great food

This izakaya is perfect for an informal meal while staying in Ibuskui

Ibusuki, Kyushu, Izakaya, food


Eat in Tokyo's PARCO department store restaurants for an outdoor rooftop dining experience

Eat in Tokyo's PARCO department store restaurants for an outdoor rooftop dining experience

Department stores in Japan can be a surprising source of great restaurant and deli food. Parco in Shibuya, Tokyo is a perfect place for lunch.

Tokyo, shopping, food


Onigiri rice balls make the perfect Japanese picnic

Onigiri rice balls make the perfect Japanese picnic

Travelling in Japan is easy because you can always pick up good, cheap food from convenience stores, or Combini. Rice balls (Onigiri) are brilliant!

Food, Combini convenience stores, travelling in Japan


Visit the Cerulean Tower's Bellovisto rooftop bar with a view of Tokyo

Visit the Cerulean Tower's Bellovisto rooftop bar with a view of Tokyo

Enjoy amazing views of Tokyo from the 40th floor at this upmarket hotel bar, a great spot for a special celebration

Tokyo, bars with a view, nightlife, cocktails