What to Eat in Japan: Japanese Food as a Tourist

Sushi and Other Foods Worth Trying While Visiting Japan

Visitors may wonder what to eat when in Japan. While sushi is probably the most well-known Japanese food, there is other Japanese cuisine to try while visiting Japan.

In Japan, there are a variety of places to eat to get traditional Japanese food. When visiting Japan, for a tourist interested in trying Japanese cuisine, the options are endless. However, there are a few common foods worth trying while visiting Japan.


When most people think of Japanese food, it is likely that sushi comes to mind. In Japan, there are practically sushi restaurants on every block. There are different types of restaurants that serve sushi. There is the option of going to a high quality restaurant and ordering sushi.

japanese food

However, a popular choice in Japan is kaiten sushi. Kaiten literally means revolving and in this type of restaurant, plates of sushi go around on a conveyor belt for anyone to grab. The prices are per plate and the plates are typically color coded.

Most people think all sushi is raw. While many of the fish is raw, there are cooked fish choices, too. Nigiri sushi is fish that sits on top of a small bed of rice. Rolls are fish mixed with other ingredients wrapped in rice and seaweed and rolled. Sashimi is just the raw fish minus the rice and is not as filling. The green stuff is called wasabi, and is quite spicy with a similar taste to horseradish.


Another prevalent food eaten in Japan is noodles, either Chinese-style ramen or the thicker Japanese udon noodle. It is most common for the ramen or udon noodles to be cooked and served in a hot, light broth with salt, bean sprouts, pork, and bamboo shoots added for extra flavor. These dishes are especially popular in the winter when the weather is colder and the soup warms the body.

Yakisoba is another noodle dish popular in Japanese culture. Yakisoba is a fried Japanese noodle, usually ramen, and is served with vegetables (typically cabbage, carrots, and onions) and pork or chicken bites. The noodles are mixed with a Japanese Worcestershire-type sauce and served as a meal or side dish.


These are places that offer Do-It-Yourself cooking of various types of meats. This type of dining experience is basically Korean style barbeque and has become widespread in Japan. The meats are displayed and a customer chooses the meats and cooks them over wood charcoal on a gas or electric grill built into the table. The meats are then dipped in a Japanese style soy sauce and eaten.

Many Yakiniku restaurants offer other food as well, including soups, salads, and other Japanese or Korean style foods. But, the focus is on the meat and that is why many Japanese come here to eat and drink beer.


Yakitori is a great dish for tourists to Japan. Yakitori is grilled chicken on a stick and dipped in a sweet sauce called ‘tare’ and barbequed. Yakitori can also be dipped in a salty sauce called ‘shio’. The chicken is grilled on a charcoal grill and the aromatic smell from the grill brings customers over to try the skewered chicken.

Places that serve Yakitori are usually stands where people will sit at a counter and eat. Yakitori is a common after work gathering place where a businessman can grab a quick bite to eat before taking the train or long commute home.