Japanese Food and Drink

Japanese Food Culture

In a broad sense of the word, Japanese food has changed drastically in these 60 years after the last world war.

Originally, Japanese food was made up on its staple diet food rice, together with side dishes such as seafood, vegetables, and fruits. But the circumstances surrounding Japanese food experiences a great change, after the Second World War. The shortage of food during the war recovered to its normal level, together with the postwar reconstruction and development, but against the background of rapid economic growth, Japanese came to seek for richness in food.

Now the Japanese food culture is shifting into a more high protein western style, with younger generations eating bread instead of rice, and meat instead of seafood, fruits and vegetables, and the opportunities to eat traditional Japanese home cooking have grown less. Especially in urban areas, Japanese eating life is changing into a more western style, influenced by the westernized urban lifestyle.

Recently, it seems to me that there is a high tendency among people living in urban areas, to finish ones meal very simple, by eating outside or using deliveries, or eating ready-cooked food instead of homemade meals. ( These changes in Japanese' eating habits, owe a lot to the inexpensive and abundant variety of food imported from overseas, as well as the development in the food service industry, along with the rapid growth of economy. )

Although Japanese food and the food culture have changed a lot compared to the old days, traditional Japanese food and eating culture come down to today as Washoku ( Japanese dishes ) accepting many changes, and is still developing. In parts of America and Europe, the health effective power of Washoku ( Japanese dishes ) is receiving attention, I hear that it's becoming sort of a boom.

As Washoku ( Japanese dishes ) is mainly based on seafood and vegetables, it is said to contain quality textured vegetable protein, plenty of dietary fiber and less fat. Often cooked in broth and seasoned simply with Shoyu (soy sauce), Miso ( soybean paste ), or salt, Washoku ( Japanese dishes ) tends to be dishes in simple and light taste, but has rich flavor. The visual beauty, displayed on dishes that come in various shapes and sizes, can also be said a great charm of Washoku ( Japanese dishes ).

Today, Washoku ( Japanese dishes ) is in the spotlight throughout the world for its healthiness, though the number of Japanese eating traditional Japanese food are getting less. This is somewhat ironic. And I would be very happy if this page could be a start, not only for foreigners but also for Japanese viewers, to look over Japanese food once again and rediscover its attractions.

Japanese Drinks

As said in my "Nature" page, Japan is blessed with abundant clean water, and stands as one of the few countries, where water can be drank directly from the faucet without precautions. ( It always makes me wonder why people spend extra money, buying bottles of mineral water... )

Water of Japan is said to be soft, containing less minerals than that of Europe. But it certainly plays an important role, in brewing traditional Japanese alcoholic beverages, such as Nihonshu ( Japanese rice wine known as "Sake" ) or to distill Shochu ( Japanese spirit distilled from mainly sweet potatoes, rice or barley ), as well as in growing rice, their basic ingredient. It is also true that fine soft water is the secret behind the popularity of tea, which is in many cases considered as green tea in Japan.

Besides water, tea, Nihonshu and Shochu, there are so many other kinds of drinks here in Japan. Starting from bottles of mineral water mentioned above, to coffee, iced coffee, tea ( including English tea, Japanese green tea, and Chinese tea ), iced tea, all sorts of fruit and vegetable juice to soy milk ( a type of drink made from soybean, a by-product in the process of making Tofu ) which is becoming popular recently in Japan ( because it is thought to be good for your health ). If you try to count them up it could go on forever. Countries where you can drink water directly from the faucet without precautions may be rare, but a country having such many kinds of drinks also must be unusual.


These wide variety of drinks are sold in supermarkets, convenience stores and vending machines ( Japan is also a vending machine powerhouse, and this too, must be quite unusual in the world ), and can be easily purchased. Although the prices are a little higher than vending machines, there are cafes and coffee shops near almost every train stations, that are always crowded with people who stop by for coffee breaks.

As for alcoholic drinks, both domestic and imported liquor are available in liquor stores, supermarkets, and in some of the convenience stores, while in bars and Izakayas you can enjoy drinking alcoholic beverages. Incidentally, drinking alcohol and smoking is strictly prohibited under the age of 20, by the Japanese law.