Place or leave chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice, and never pass something from your chopsticks to another person's chopsticks. these are associated with funerary rites. if you want to give a piece of food to someone, let them take it from your plate, or place it directly on their plate.

Japanese cuisine, renowned for its emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients, has taken the world by storm. The key ingredient of most meals is white rice, usually served steamed, and in fact its Japanese word gohan ご飯 also means "meal". Soybeans are a key source of protein and take many forms, notably the miso 味噌 soup served with many meals, but also tōfu 豆腐 bean curd and the ubiquitous soy sauce 醤油 shōyu. Seafood features heavily in Japanese cuisine, including not only creatures of the sea but also many varieties of seaweed as well, and a complete meal is always rounded out by some pickles 漬物 tsukemono.

One of the joys of getting out of Tokyo and travelling within Japan is to discover the local specialties. Every region within the country has a number of delightful dishes, based on locally available crops and fish. In Hokkaido try the fresh sashimi and crab. In Osaka don't miss the okonomiyaki お好み焼き stuffed with green onions and the octopus balls たこ焼き takoyaki.

Most Japanese food is eaten with chopsticks 箸 hashi. Eating with chopsticks is a surprisingly easy skill to pick up, although mastering them takes a while. Some chopstick guidelines to be aware of:

When you are done using chopsticks, you can rest them across the edge of your bowl or plate. Most nicer restaurants put a small wooden or ceramic chopstick rest hashi-oki at each place setting. You can also fold the paper wrapper that the chopsticks come in to construct your own hashi-oki.

Licking the ends of your chopsticks is considered low-class. Take a bite of your rice instead.

Using chopsticks to move plates or bowls really anything other than food is rude.

Pointing at things with your chopsticks is rude. Pointing at people in general is rude; with chopsticks, doubly so.

Spearing food with your chopsticks is generally rude and should be used as only a last resort.

Disposable chopsticks wari-bashi are provided in all restaurants as well as with bentō and other take-out foods. You shouldn't "whittle" your chopsticks after breaking them apart. Many restaurants give you a hot towel o-shibori to wipe your hands with as soon as you sit down; use it for your hands, and not your face.

Many Japanese dishes come with different sauces and garnishes. Japanese never put soy sauce on their rice; they eat bowls of rice plain, or sometimes with furikake, a blend of crumbled seaweed, fish, and spices. Soy sauce is used for dipping sushi in before eating, and they pour it on grilled fish and tofu as well. Tonkatsu pork cutlet comes with a thicker sauce, tempura comes with a lighter, thinner sauce made from soy sauce and dashi fish and seaweed soup base, while gyōza potstickers are usually dipped in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar and chili oil.

Most soups and broths, especially miso, are drunk directly out of the bowl after you've chopsticked out the larger bits, and it's also normal to pick up a bowl of rice for easier eating. For main-dish soups like rāmen you will be given a spoon. Curry rice and fried rice are also eaten with spoons.

eating vegetarian

Despite its image as light and healthy cuisine, everyday Japanese food can be quite heavy in salt and fat, with deep-fried meat or seafood being prominent. Vegetarians much less vegans may have serious difficulty finding a meal that does not include animal products to some degree, particularly as the near-ubiquitous Japanese soup stock dashi is usually prepared with fish and often pops up in unexpected places like miso, rice crackers, curry, omelettes including tamago sushi, instant noodles and pretty much anywhere salt would be used in Western cuisine. There is a kelp variant called kombudashi, but it's fairly uncommon. Soba and udon noodle soups, in particular, virtually always use bonito-based katsuodashi, and typically the only vegetarian-safe item on the menu in a noodle shop is zarusoba, or plain cold noodles — but even for this the dipping sauce typically contains dashi.

One possibility for vegetarian/ vegan options is the kaiten conveyor belt sushi shop. Westerners tend to associate sushi with fish, but there are several kinds of rolled sushi available in these shops that does not include fish or other marine creatures: kappa maki cucumber rolls, nattō maki sushi filled with stringy fermented soy beans, an acquired taste for many, kanpyō maki pickled-gourd rolls, and, occasionally, yuba sushi made with the delicate, tasty 'skin' of tofu. These types of sushi tend to be less popular than the sushi using marine animal products, so you may not see them revolving in front of your eyes on the conveyor belt. Just shout out the name of the type of sushi you want and the sushi chef will prepare it for you right away. When you are ready to leave, call the waitress over and she'll count your plates. The vegetarian sushi options are always inexpensive.

For anyone living in big cities, especially Tokyo, an excellent option is organic or macrobiotic food, known as shizenshoku 自然食. While "vegetarian food" may sound boring or even unappetizing to Japanese ears, shizenshoku is quite in vogue as of late, although meals may cost about ¥3000 and menus may still contain seafood items. While considerably harder to find, it's worth looking out for a restaurant often run by temples that offers shōjin ryori 精進料理, the purely vegetarian cuisine developed by Buddhist monks. This cuisine is highly regarded and thus often very expensive, but is often available at reasonable prices if you stay at temples.

Fortunately, traditional Japanese cuisine contains an ample amount of protein through its great variety of soy products: tofu, miso, natto, and edamame tender green soy beans in their pods, for example. In the prepared food sections of supermarkets and department store basements, you can also find many dishes including various types of beans, both sweet and savory.

The number of vegetarian restaurants and even vegetarian food festivals such as the Tokyo VegeFood Festa that takes place in the autumn are increasing. Some vegetarians have been networking to help each other find suitable places to eat. For example, since 2006, a vegan meet-up group in Tokyo has been holding monthly buffets at local restaurants. Vegetarians in Tokyo or travellers passing through, can find out about the feast at the vegan meet-up page (http://www.meetup.com/veg...). The Happy Cow is a website (http://www.happycow.net/) that provides information about vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Japan and all over the world. They now have an excellent free app for the iOS and Android systems (http://www.happycow.net/m...).

For those of you who like Indian vegetarian fare, there's a small chain of vegetarian Indian restaurants in Tokyo that have a satisfying lunch-time buffet every weekday. They have branches in Gaien Mae, Ginza and Ogikubo. The restaurant is called Nataraj. Nearly half the menu offers vegan options, including nan made from a Japanese green, leafy vegetable komatsuna. The hors d'oeuvres are especially good.

Some vegetarians or vegans might be interested in a smoke-free and completely vegan place where they can drink as well as eat. Near Tokyu Hands, in Shibuya Tokyo there is a new izakaya drinking place called "Hang Out" [ (https://www.facebook.com/...) ]. One of their best dishes is vegan gyoza pot stickers, and they have many kinds of non-alcoholic beverages for those who do not drink. The restaurant/ drinking place is just a 10-minute walk from JR Shibuya Station. Such casual vegan or vegetarian eateries are popping up more and more in Tokyo, particularly in the Shibuya/ Aoyama/ Omotesando area.

coffee shops

Though Starbucks has planted its flag in Japan almost as well as in the United States, the Japanese kissaten 喫茶店 has a long history. If you're really looking for a jolt of caffeine, go to Starbucks or one of its Japanese predecessors such as Doutor. But if you're trying to get out of the rain, the heat or the crowds for a while, the kissaten is an oasis in an urban jungle. Most coffee shops are one-of-a-kind affairs, and reflect the tastes of their clientele. In a Ginza coffee shop, you'll find a soft "European" decor and sweet pastries for upscale shoppers taking a load off their Ferragamos. In an Otemachi coffee shop, businessmen in suits huddle over the low tables before meeting their clients. In Roppongi's all-night coffee shops, the night owls pause between clubs, or doze until the trains start running again in the morning.

A peculiar kind of kissaten is the jazz kissa ジャズ喫茶, or jazz coffee shop. These are even darker and more smoke-filled than normal kissaten, and frequented by extremely serious-looking jazz buffs who sit motionless and alone, soaking in the bebop played at high volumes from giant audio speakers. You go to a jazz kissa to listen; conversation is a no-no.

Another offshoot is the danwashitsu 談話室, or lounge. The appearance is indistinguishable from a pricy kissaten, but the purpose is more specific: serious discussions over matters such as business or meeting prospective spouses. All tables are in separate booths, reservations are usually required, and the drinks are pricey. So don't wander into one if you're just looking for a cup of coffee.

convenience stores

If you're travelling on the cheap, Japan's numerous convenience stores コンビニ konbini can be a great place to grab a bite to eat, and they're almost always open 24/7. Major chains include 7-Eleven, Lawson, and Family Mart. You can find instant noodles, sandwiches, meat buns, and even some small prepared meals, which can be heated up in a microwave right in the store. An excellent option for food on the go is onigiri or omusubi, which is a large ball of rice stuffed with say fish or pickled plum and wrapped in seaweed, and usually cost around ¥100 each.

Most convenience stores in Japan also have a restroom located in the back. While most of the stores located in suburban and rural areas will let customers use their bathrooms, many in large cities, especially those in downtown areas and amusement districts of Tokyo and Osaka, will not. Therefore, you should ask whether you can use the bathroom at the cashier first, then buy an item later if you want to show your appreciation.


For those really on a budget, most supermarkets sūpā have a wide variety of ready-to-eat meals, bentos, sandwiches, snacks and the like, generally cheaper than convenience stores. Some supermarkets are even open 24 hours a day.

One Japanese institution worth checking out is the depachika デパ地下 or department store basement food court, featuring dozens of tiny specialist stalls dishing up local specialties ranging from exquisitely packed tea ceremony candies to fresh sushi and Chinese takeaway. They're often a little upmarket pricewise, but almost all offer free samples and there are always a few reasonably priced ones in the mix. In the evenings, many slash prices on unsold food, so look for stickers like hangaku 半額, "half price" or san-wari biki 3割引, "30% off" to get a bargain. 割 means "1/10" and 引 means "off".

Fast food

fast food

てんや, the best tempura you'll ever eat for less than ¥500.

fast food

Famous family restaurant that serves italian food. you can eat italian food at a low cost. saizeriya has been getting popular without distinction of age or gender. there are three management philosophies of saizeriya. first one is convenience. saizeriya is conveniently located. second is reasonable price. saizeriya tries to serve food at a low cost. third is a plentiful menu. saizeriya serves various type of italian food.

fast food

Operated by jr, these fastfood burger restaurants are often found in and near jr stations in greater tokyo and yokohama. beckers offers made to order burgers and menchi burgers minced black pork. unlike most shops, their buns are fresh and baked inside the stores. unused buns are thrown away if not used 1.5 hours after baking them. their pork teriyaki burger is awesome. they also offer poutine, which is of course a french canadian snack consisting of french fries, gravy and cheese. the chilli topping needs to be tried. more often than not, you can pay with the jr suica pre-paid re-chargeable multi use traincard.

fast food
Freshness Burger

Tries to be a bit less fast-foody and more like an "all-american" joint. the food's decent, but just be prepared for the tiniest burgers you've ever seen.

fast food

大戸屋 (http://www.ootoya.com/) is really too good to call fast food, with a menu and atmosphere that matches any "home-style" japanese restaurant. while there are illustrated menus on signboards, ordering can be confusing: at some stores you order at the counter before taking a seat, while at others servers come to your table.

fast food
Royal Host

Tries to market itself as a bit up-scale

fast food
Soup Stock Tokyo

Is a trendy soup kitchen chain that serves delicious soup all-year round, with a selection of cold soups in summer. it is a bit more expensive than most other fast food chains but you may consider it a healthier alternative to burgers.

fast food
First Kitchen

This chain offers a few dishes outside of the standard fast-food fare, including pasta, pizza, and fries with a wide assortment of flavorings.

fast food
Coco Ichibanya

Serves japanese style curry rice with a vast array of ingredient choices. english menus available.

fast food

Japanese fast food restaurants offer decent quality at reasonable prices. Many chains offer interesting seasonal choices that are quite tasty. Some chains to look out for include:

fast food

Is probably the most ubiquitous local chain. skylark is owned by the same company and has similar fare, including a cheap and unlimited "drink bar," which makes these restaurants good places for reading or resting over extended periods. denny's also has many stores in japan.

fast food

Standard burger-type place.

fast food
Sunday Sun

Reasonable, decent food and menus

fast food

Specializes in steaks, and offers a large salad bar.

fast food
Marukame Seimen

丸亀製麺 - reasonably-priced udon a kind of japanese traditional noodle shop. there are various kinds of udon to choose from, such as kamaage udon 釜揚げうどん which is the normal udon, and kamatama udon釜玉うどん which is udon with a raw egg. there are two main ways to eat kamatama udon - to eat the egg separately with the noodles or mix them. also has many time-limited, seasonal menus.

fast food
MOS Burger

Seems like just another fast food chain, but actually has a pretty interesting menu — for hamburgers with a twist, how about grilled eel between two rice buns? notice also the list of local produce suppliers posted in each shop. made to order, so guaranteed fresh, and unlike some fast-food places, mos burger products generally look like their advertising photos. a bit more expensive than mcdonald's, but worth the extra. mos stands for "mountain, ocean, sun," by the way.

fast food

吉野家, matsuya 松屋, and sukiya すき家 are gyūdon beef bowl specialists. while beef was off the menu for a while due to the mad cow scare, it's back now.

fast food

American fast food chains are also ubiquitous, including McDonald's, Wendy's, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. McDonald's restaurants are almost as ubiquitous as vending machines.

There are also a number of Japanese "family restaurants", serving a wide variety of dishes, including steak, pasta, Chinese style dishes, sandwiches, and other foods. Though their food is relatively uninteresting, these restaurants usually have illustrated menus, so travellers who cannot read Japanese can use the photos to choose and communicate their orders. Some chains across the country are:



The number of restaurants in Japan is stupendous, and you will never run out of places to go. For cultural and practical reasons, Japanese almost never invite guests to their homes, so socializing nearly always involves eating out.

According to the world famous Michelin Guide, which rates restaurants in major cities around the world, Tokyo is the most "delicious" city in the world with over 150 restaurants that received at least one star out of three. In comparison, Paris and London received a total of 148 between them.

Most Japanese-style restaurants have lunchtime teishoku 定食, or fixed set meals. These typically consist of a meat or fish dish, with a bowl of miso soup, pickles, and rice often with free extra helpings. These can be as inexpensive as ¥600 yet ample enough even for large appetites. Menus will, for most establishments, be in Japanese only; however, many restaurants have models many in exquisite detail of their meals in their front window, and if you can't read the menu it may be better to take the waiter or waitress outside and point at what you would like.

Restaurants will present you with the check after the meal, and you are expected to pay at the counter when leaving — do not leave payment on the table and walk out. The phrase for "bill" is kanjō or kaikei. When it's getting late, a server will usually come to your table to tell you it's time for the "last order." When it's really time to go, Japanese restaurants have a universal signal — they start to play "Auld Lang Syne". This is true across the country, except at the most expensive places. That means "pay up and move out."

Many cheap chain eateries have vending machines where you buy a ticket and give it to the server. At most of these restaurants, you'll have to be able to read Japanese to use them, though. At some of these restaurants, there will be plastic displays or photographs of the food with varying prices in front of them. It is often possible to match the price, along with some of the kana characters to the choices at the machine. If you're open-minded and flexible, you might get shōyu soy sauce ramen instead of miso fermented soy bean ramen or you might get katsu pork cutlet curry instead of beef curry. You'll always know how much you're spending so you'll never overpay. If your Japanese language skills are limited or non-existent, these restaurants with vending machines are really quite comfortable places because there is limited or no conversation required at these establishments. Most of the customers will be in a hurry, the hired help will usually not be interested in making conversation and will just read your order when they take your ticket and the water/tea, napkins, and eating utensils are either supplied automatically or self-service. Some other places have all you can eat meals called tabehōdai 食べ放題 or viking バイキング.

Tipping is not customary in Japan, although fancy restaurants apply 10% service charges and 24-hour "family restaurants" such as Denny's and Jonathan's usually have a 10% late-night surcharge.


While most restaurants in Japanese specialize in a certain type of dish, each neighborhood is guaranteed to have a few shokudō 食堂, serving up simple, popular dishes and teishoku sets at affordable prices ¥500-1000. Try ones in government buildings: often open to the public as well, they are subsidised by taxes and can be very good value, if uninspiring. When in doubt, go for the daily special or kyō no teishoku 今日の定食, which nearly always consists of a main course, rice, soup and pickles.

A closely related variant is the bentō-ya 弁当屋, which serves takeout boxes known as o-bentō お弁当. While travelling on JR, don't forget to sample the vast array of ekiben 駅弁 or "station bento", many unique to the region - or even the station.

A staple of the shokudō is the donburi 丼, literally "rice bowl", meaning a bowl of rice with a topping. Popular ones include:

oyakodon 親子丼 - lit. "parent-and-child bowl", usually chicken and egg but sometimes salmon and roe

katsudon カツ丼 - a deep-fried pork cutlet with egg

gyūdon 牛丼 - beef and onion

chūkadon 中華丼 - lit. "Chinese bowl", stir-fried vegetables and meat in a thick sauce

You will also frequently encounter Japan's most popular dish, the ubiquitous curry rice カレーライス karē raisu — a thick, mild, brown paste that most Indians would hardly recognize. Often the cheapest dish on the menu, a large portion 大盛り ōmori is guaranteed to leave you stuffed.

At the other extreme of the spectrum are super-exclusive ryōtei 料亭, the Michelin three-star restaurants of the Japanese food world, which serve gourmet kaiseki 会席 meals prepared from the very best seasonal ingredients. Should they condescend to let you in — and many require introductions — you will be looking at upwards of ¥30,000 per head for an experience, which, quite frankly, will go right over the heads of most mere mortals visiting Japan for the first time.


Even Japanese want something other than rice every now and then, and the obvious alternative is noodles 麺 men. Practically every town and hamlet in Japan boasts its own "famous" noodle dish, and they are often well worth trying.

There are two major noodle types native to Japan: thin buckwheat soba そば and thick wheat udon うどん. Typically all dishes below can be ordered with either soba or udon depending on your preference and a bowl will cost only a few hundred yen, especially at the standing-room-only noodle joints in and near train stations.

kake soba かけそば - plain broth and maybe a little spring onion on top

tsukimi soba 月見そば - soup with a raw egg dropped in, named "moon-viewing" because of the resemblance to a moon behind clouds

kitsune soba きつねそば - soup with sweetened thin sheets of deep-fried tofu

zaru soba ざるそば - chilled noodles served with a dipping sauce, shallot and wasabi; popular in summer

Chinese egg noodles or rāmen ラーメン are also very popular but more expensive ¥500+ due to the greater effort involved and the condiments, which typically include a slice of grilled pork and a variety of vegetables. Ramen can be considered to be the defining dish of each city, and practically every sizable city in Japan will have its own unique style of ramen. The four major styles of ramen are:

shio rāmen 塩ラーメン - salty pork or chicken broth

shōyu rāmen 醤油ラーメン - soy broth, popular in Tokyo

miso rāmen 味噌ラーメン - miso soybean paste broth, originally from Hokkaido

tonkotsu rāmen 豚骨ラーメン - thick pork broth, a speciality of Kyushu

In Tokyo, there is a brand of chinese noodles called "Jirou." The soup is pork based and very greasy. The restaurants that handle this usually only handle "Jirou" type of noodles. If you tell the waiter "mashimashi" they well add great amounts of vegetables for free. Left overs are unacceptable so be sure to have an empty stomach.

There is an another type of Ramen noodle in Tokyo which is called "Aburasoba"油そば. Aburasoba do not have soups like usual Ramen noodle do but instead, it has sauce in it. You eat Aburasoba by mixing the noodle and the sauce first and then you add some Chinese oil and some vinegar. The way of eating Aburasoba depends on the restaurant so you should check out many different kinds of Aburasoba restaurants in Tokyo. As a topping, it usually has welsh onion, garlic, eggs, roasted pork, and boiled bamboo shoots. Aburasoba started from 1985 in a restaurant in Musashino, Tokyo and you can find Aburasoba restaurants anywhere in Tokyo.

Slurping your noodles is acceptable and even expected. According to the Japanese it both cools them down and makes them taste better. Any remaining broth can be drunk directly from the bowl.


Perhaps Japan's most famous culinary exports are sushi 寿司 or 鮨, usually raw fish over vinegared rice, and sashimi 刺身, plain raw fish. These seemingly very simple dishes are in fact quite difficult to prepare properly: the fish must be extremely fresh, and apprentices spend years just learning how to make the vinegared rice for sushi correctly, before moving on to the arcane arts of selecting the very best fish at the market and removing every last bone from the fillets.

There is enough arcane sushi terminology to fill entire books, but the most common types are:

nigiri 握り - the canonical sushi form consisting of rice with fish pressed on top

maki 巻き - fish and rice rolled up in nori seaweed and cut into bite-size chunks

temaki 手巻き - fish and rice rolled up in a big cone of nori

gunkan 軍艦 - "battleship" sushi, like nigiri but with nori wrapped around the edge to contain the contents

chirashi ちらし - a large bowl of vinegared rice with seafood scattered on top

Nearly anything that swims or lurks in the sea can and has been turned into sushi, and most sushi restaurants keep a handy multilingual decoding key on hand or on the wall. A few species more or less guaranteed to feature in every restaurant are maguro tuna, sake salmon, ika squid, tako octopus, and tamago egg. More exotic options include uni sea urchin roe, toro fatty tuna belly, very expensive and shirako fish sperm. Tuna belly comes in two different grades: ō-toro 大とろ, which is very fatty and very expensive, and chū-toro 中とろ, which is slightly cheaper and less fatty.

If you somehow ended up in a sushi restaurant, but can't or don't want to eat raw fish, there are usually several alternatives. For instance the above mentioned tamago, various vegetables on rice, or the very tasty inari rice in a sweet wrap of deep fried tofu. Or order the kappa maki which is nothing more than sliced cucumber, rolled up in rice and wrapped in nori.

Even in Japan, sushi is a bit of a delicacy and the most expensive restaurants, where you order piece by piece from a chef, can run you bills into tens of thousands of yen. You can limit the damage by ordering a fixed-price moriawase 盛り合わせ set, where the chef will choose whatever he thinks is good that day. Cheaper yet are the ubiquitous kaiten 回転, lit. "revolving" sushi shops, where you sit by a conveyor belt and grab whatever strikes your fancy, at prices that can be as low as ¥100 per plate. Even in these cheaper places, it's still quite acceptable to order directly from the chef. While in some areas like Hokkaido, kaiten sushi is of consistently good quality, in larger cities especially Tokyo and Kyoto the quality varies considerably from place to place with the low end restaurants serving little more than junk-food.

When eating sushi, it's perfectly acceptable to use your fingers; just dip the piece in a little soy sauce and pop the whole thing in your mouth. In Japan, the pieces typically have a dab of fiery wasabi radish already lurking inside, but you can always add more according to your taste. Slices of pickled ginger gari refresh the palate and infinite refills of green tea are always available for free.

Despite fish sashimi being the most well known, there is no shortage of other types of sashimi for the adventurous ones. Hokkaido crab sashimi and lobster sashimi are considered delicacies and are definitely worth a try. Whale is also occasionally available, although it's not very common, and Kumamoto is famous for horse meat sashimi.


Fugu ふぐ or puffer fish is considered a delicacy in Japan despite being highly poisonous. It can be rather pricy due to the tremendous skill required to prepare it, which requires complete removal of the internal organs in which the poison is found. Despite the potential danger, it is highly unlikely that you will be poisoned to death by it as chefs are assessed very stringently every year to ensure their preparation skills are up to the mark, and the Japanese government requires new chefs to undergo years of apprenticeship under experienced chefs before they are licensed to prepare the dish. Because of the skill required, fugu is typically served only in speciality restaurants known as fugu-ya ふぐ屋. As a side note, the emperor is banned from eating this dish for obvious reasons.


The Japanese didn't eat much meat before the Meiji era, but they have picked up the habit and even exported a few new ways to eat it since then. Keep an eye on the price though, as meat especially beef can be fiercely expensive and luxury varieties like the famous marbled Kobe beef can cost thousands or even tens of thousands of yen per serving. Some options, usually served by specialist restaurants, include:

okonomiyaki お好み焼き - Japanese pancake-pizza, based on a wheat-cabbage batter with meat or seafood of your choice, slathered with sauce, mayonnaise, bonito flakes, dried seaweed and pickled ginger; at many places you cook it yourself at your table

teppanyaki 鉄板焼き - meat grilled on a hot iron plate

tempura 天ぷら - light-battered shrimp, fish and vegetables deep-fried very quickly, served with a dipping broth

tonkatsu 豚カツ - deep-fried breaded pork cutlets elevated into an art form

yakiniku 焼肉 - Japanese-style "Korean barbeque", cooked by yourself at your table

yakitori 焼き鳥 - grilled skewers of every chicken part imaginable, a classic accompaniment to alcohol

One Japanese specialty worth seeking out is eel うなぎ unagi, reputed to give strength and vitality in the drainingly hot summer months. A properly grilled eel simply melts in the mouth when eaten, and takes over ¥1000 from your wallet in the process.

A rather more infamous Japanese delicacy is whale 鯨 kujira, which tastes like fishy steak and is served both raw and cooked. However, most Japanese don't hold whale in much esteem; it's associated with school lunches and wartime scarcity, and it's rarely found outside speciality restaurants such as kujira-ya in Shibuya, Tokyo. Canned whale can also be found in some grocery stores at a huge price for a small can.


Particularly in the cold winter months various "hot pot" stews 鍋 nabe are popular ways to warm up. Common types include:

chankonabe ちゃんこ鍋 - a hotchpotch steamboat much favored by sumo wrestlers.

oden おでん - a variety of skewered fishcakes, daikon radish, tofu, and other ingredients simmered in fish soup for days. Primarily a winter dish, often sold in convenience stores and on the street in makeshift blue-tarp yatai tents.

sukiyaki すき焼き - a hotpot of beef, tofu, noodles and more, often somewhat sweet. Well known in the West, but not that common in Japan.

shabu-shabu しゃぶしゃぶ - a hotpot of clear water or very light broth; very thin slices of meat traditionally beef, but seafood, pork, and other variations exist are briefly swished through the hot water to instantly cook them, then dipped in flavoured sauce


Throughout Japan you can find cafés and restaurants serving Western food 洋食 yōshoku, ranging from molecular-level carbon copies of famous French pastries to hardly recognizable Japanized dishes like corn-and-potato pizza and spaghetti omelettes. A few popular only-in-Japan dishes include:

hambāgu ハンバーグ - not to be confused with a McDonald's hambāgā, this version of Hamburg steak is a standalone hamburger patty with gravy and toppings

omuraisu オムライス - rice wrapped in an omelette with a dollop of ketchup

wafū sutēki 和風ステーキ - steak served Japanese-style with soy sauce

korokke コロッケ - croquettes, usually filled with potato, along with some meat and onion

karē カレー - Japanese-style curry, a mild brown curry served with rice; also available as katsu karē with a pork cutlet


During the summer months when it's not raining, many buildings and hotels have restaurants on their rooftops and serve dishes like fried chicken and french fries, as well as light snacks. The specialty is, of course, draft beer 生ビール nama-biiru. You can order large mugs of beer or pay a fixed price for an all-you-can-drink 飲み放題 nomihōdai course lasting for a set period of time usually up to 2 hours. Cocktails and other drinks are also often available as part of all-you-can-drink sets.These beer gardens are often taken place at Ebisu. Ebisu is the neighbor area of Shibuya, near Roppongi and Hiroo. Near by Ebisu Station Hibiya line, JR Yamanote line is Yebisu Garden Place恵比寿ガーデンプレイス: a compound square of shopping, offices, restaurants & cafes.