[Japanese Culinary Arts]: Top 15 Traditional Japanese Dining Experiences Loved by Foreigners & 14 Handy English Phrases for Dining Out

Mayumi Folio
Mayumi Folio

Japan’s traditional food culture was selected as a UNESCO Intangible World Heritage Site in 2013.

Japan is one of the world’s leading countries in terms of longevity.

In addition to its beauty and delicious taste, Japan’s food culture has always attracted the world’s attention as healthy and well-balanced.

Now, let’s take a look at

– Basic knowledge about Japanese food culture that you, as a Japanese, should know.

– Points to keep in mind when you want to introduce Japanese food culture to people overseas yourself.

– I want to explain Japanese food culture in English!

– What kind of Japanese cultural experiences are there that make the most of Japanese food culture?

In this article, we will focus on Japanese food culture and introduce phrases and knowledge that you can use when explaining Japanese food culture to foreigners in English!

What is Japanese Food Culture?

Nature and Landforms of Japan

Japan is an island nation located in the east of the world.

The uniquely shaped Japanese archipelago stretches from north to south and is made up of countless small islands.

The distinctive topography includes oceans, rivers, plains, and mountains, and each region has its own unique climate and climate, making it possible to see the various characteristics of Japan from east to west, north to south, and north to south.

The Japanese archipelago is characterized by mountains in the center and is surrounded by the sea, making it blessed with seasonal delicacies from the sea and mountains.

These special characteristics of the Japanese archipelago have given rise to a unique food culture since ancient times.

Some points that can be considered as characteristics of Japanese food culture are

– The enjoyment of seasonal ingredients and nature through food.

– Japan’s unique fermented foods such as soy sauce, miso, natto (fermented soybeans) and dried bonito flakes.

– Cooking and preservation methods that use ingredients without waste.

– Special meals and arrangements for special occasions such as annual festivals.

Japanese food culture is full of charm from various perspectives.

Japanese food culture has evolved and been handed down through respect for nature’s bounty and the ingenuity with which it has been preserved in daily life.

It is this aspect of Japanese food culture that is attracting attention from around the world.

Basics of Japanese Food

The basis of Japanese food is “ippiru sansai” (one soup, three dishes).

Rice, soup, and three side dishes.

and pickles.

The basic principle of Japanese food is to have three dishes.

Rice and soup, including miso soup, are served with rice.

In addition to the main dish of fish or meat, there are one or two other side dishes such as boiled dish, ohitashi (boiled vegetables), and simmered dish.

Pickles are not included in the number of dishes, but are often served as a chopstick rest.

This combination is called a “menu,” and has been in existence since the end of the Heian period (794-1185).

Japanese food culture is characterized by the use of a variety of cooking methods to eat vegetables, seafood, and livestock products that are readily available.

The Japanese menu is a combination of meals that uses a wide variety of ingredients from all four seasons.

The nutritional balance is naturally achieved by using many ingredients in a well-balanced manner.

This is part of the appeal of Japanese cuisine.

In addition, noodles such as soba and udon, one-dish dishes such as donburi, and sushi are traditional Japanese dishes, although they do not take the form of a basic menu of Japanese food.

The appeal of these foods is that they are easy to eat.

The appeal of these dishes is that they are easy to eat, and the basic cooking method is simple.

This cuisine can be enjoyed as an everyday home cooking, and because it is simple, it is possible to find the ultimate in this cuisine.

It is a cuisine that is rarely seen in other countries, where the taste of home cooking and the taste of professional cooking exist.

Another notable aspect of Japanese food is that it is enjoyed as a unique menu, flexibly adapting ingredients from foreign cuisines to suit the Japanese climate.

From curry and rice to Japanese pasta, croquettes and tempura, new flavors are introduced to Japan at any time and quickly transformed into Japanese cuisine.

This flexibility has resulted in a rich variety of Japanese food.

Japanese Preserved and Fermented Foods

Preserved and fermented foods have been nurtured by the nature and climate of Japan.

Miso and soy sauce are indispensable ingredients in Japanese cuisine and are unique foods made from fermented soybeans.

Natto, a representative of Japanese fermented foods, is a very excellent food and always attracts attention from all over the world.

Also recognized as the world’s hardest food, dried bonito flakes are also a fermented food.

As a Japanese, there is no other food more comforting than a properly prepared soup stock made from tasty dried bonito flakes.

Dried and smoked fish, whose umami flavor is enhanced by drying, is another uniquely Japanese preserved food.

Pickles are also found in China and Korea, but pickles with a uniquely Japanese flavor, such as nuka-zuke, umeboshi (pickled plums), and the refreshing asazuke and sawan (pickled dumplings), are also wisdom for preserving vegetables for a long time.

These preserved and fermented foods are highly regional in nature and have given rise to traditional ingredients and dishes.

They are called “local cuisine,” and the variety of tastes throughout the Japanese archipelago is one of the charms of Japanese food.

Why Japanese food is attracting worldwide attention

Healthy Eating

Another major attraction of Japanese food is that it is a healthy diet.

As the way we eat is being reevaluated, more and more attention is being paid to the Japanese food culture.

Japanese food culture is said to be good for the body, but how exactly is it healthy?

The first thing that comes to mind is the low cholestorol.

The extremely low use of oil-based cooking methods is believed to reduce the amount of bad cholesterol.

In addition, ginger and Japanese tea are said to lower cholestrol in the blood.

These are some of the foods that are not part of the diet itself, but are often consumed with Japanese food.

Because of the abundance of seafood, it is also possible to inoculate the body with omega-3 fatty acids, which are very necessary for brain function.

It is very good for growing children and is said to prevent brain diseases.

And there is also a focus on the various ways of preparing seaweed, including kelp and nori.

No other food in the world is as rich in seaweed as Japanese food.

Seaweed’s low calorie content and rich nutritional content, including minerals, vitamins, and calcium, are attracting attention.

And rice, the staple food of Japan, is gluten-free.

In the West, gluten-free diets are gaining popularity as more and more people are trying to avoid gluten as much as possible.

Rice is more nutritious and satiating than bread.

And there is also a focus on getting protein from legumes.

Tofu, edamame (green soybeans), and natto (fermented soybeans) are Japanese ingredients that have become well established overseas.

A well-balanced diet consisting of these various Japanese ingredients and side dishes, mainly vegetables, is considered healthy in itself.

The macrobiotic philosophy of food, which originated in Japan, is a very meaningful food philosophy for health-conscious people around the world.

The healthful image of Japanese food has also been enhanced by vegetarian cuisine, which originated from the Zen school of thought.

Reference material: “Japanese food, an excellent student of nutritional balance.

Japanese Bento Culture

Since the Corona , the take-out dining scene has become the norm around the world.

In this context, Japanese bento has become so widespread that it has become a universal language.

The knowledge and experience that Japanese people have accumulated for bento, such as recipes that taste good even when cold and short recipes to lighten the morning workload, are spreading around the world via social networking services.

Such Japanese bento is also a form of Japanese food culture.

Bento, like a diorama of Japanese food culture, can be considered as a representative of Japan’s food culture.

Bento is also popular among foreigners visiting Japan.

Shokado bento at ryotei (Japanese-style restaurants) and ekiben (boxed meals served at train stations) are examples of food culture that can only be found in Japan.

Recommended related article: [For cherry blossom viewing and special events] Bento that foreigners enjoy

English Example Sentences about Japanese Food

English translation of phrases used for meals

 “bon appétit”

 “to eat and receive” I’m grateful for this meal

 “That was a delicious meal”

 “it’s delicious”

“please second service”


English Example Sentences about Japanese Food

Here are some frequently asked questions about Japanese food in English.

Japanese food is prepared carefully using seasonal ingredients and flavors.

Ramen is a noodle soup dish which became so incredibly popular nowadays that it’s thought to be Japanese food.

While curry has its origins in India, the curry we eat in Japan is a unique, localized dish based on the curry brought over to Japan from the UK.

Karaage is chicken seasoned with soy sauce and a number of different spices, sprinkled with starch and fried in oil.

The vegetarian style of cooking known as “shojin ryori” was later popularized by the Zen Buddhism.

OKONOMIYAKI looks like a pancake dish, made with a batter of flour, eggs, water, shredded cabbage, and a variety of other ingredients such as meat or shrimp.

Topping with special sauce and dry bonito, green seaweed flake. Of course it’s not a sweet dessert!

Reference site:. Okonomiyaki – Japan Guide

15 Popular Japanese Foods among Foreigners

So, what kind of Japanese food is popular among foreigners?

Here we introduce 15 Japanese foods that have recently become popular overseas, along with cultural experiences that can be enjoyed through food.

Sushi Experience

When it comes to Japanese food, most foreigners would probably answer “SHUSHI !

Sushi is the most popular Japanese food in Japan.

There are many foreigners who want to try real sushi made by a master chef in Japan, and some sushi restaurants are very popular among foreigners.

And don’t forget about conveyor-belt sushi restaurants, where you can enjoy sushi in a casual atmosphere.

Sushi, which used to have an image of being expensive, has once again become an indispensable part of the Japanese diet with the advent of kaiten-zushi.

In addition to the casualness of kaiten-zushi, foreigners are interested in the uniqueness of the restaurant format.

Why is the sushi spinning? Sushi is carried by a toy train! Most first-time visitors enjoy taking pictures of the interior of the restaurant.

The variety of food available makes it a great place for people with children to visit without hesitation.

In addition, the sushi experience is attracting a lot of attention as a form of food entertainment.

Sushi workshops where you can actually make sushi with your own hands, or experience sushi from the dismantling of tuna.

Or, enjoy nigiri made by a traveling sushi chef in a private room.

We also recommend sushi related Japanese cultural experiences such as the following.

Especially since the experience can be had during lunch or dinner hours, it will be the perfect Japanese cultural experience for tourists and business guests with limited time.

Related recommended article: Sushi Entertainment and Parties in France

Kaiseki Cuisine And Geisha Experience

When I go to France, I want to taste French cuisine in a starred restaurant! Many Japanese people think, “If I go to France, I want to taste French cuisine at a starred restaurant!

“If I visit Japan, I want to try authentic Japanese kaiseki cuisine at least once! Many foreigners think, “If I visit Japan, I want to try authentic Japanese kaiseki cuisine at least once!

Many foreigners want to try beautiful and delicious kaiseki cuisine while enjoying Japanese hospitality at a ryotei (traditional Japanese restaurant).

Many foreigners would like to try kaiseki cuisine at a ryotei restaurant with a Japanese atmosphere, where they can enjoy Japanese hospitality to the fullest.

Kaiseki cuisine is a special Japanese food that you should try because you can fully experience the Japanese flavor and appearance that is uniquely Japanese.

Enjoying the hospitality of a Japanese ryotei restaurant, where every detail has been carefully thought out, and enjoying authentic kaiseki cuisine is a unique experience that can only be had in Japan.

This is an experience that can only be had in Japan.

We also recommend our VIP VVIP guests to experience Japanese culture while enjoying Kaiseki cuisine.

Whether it is a ryotei or a private room, a geisha experience or any other kaiseki cuisine x Japanese culture experience will be an unforgettable time.

Recommended related article: [English Example Sentences] Basic Knowledge for Foreigners to Enjoy Kaiseki Cuisine

Sukiyaki for dinner and entertainment

Sukiyaki is a somewhat unique Japanese dish, but it is also one of the most popular dishes to try in Japan.

Sukiyaki has been loved by many cultural figures and dignitaries.

Sukiyaki is so famous in Japan that it has become a household word overseas as well.

Sukiyaki is made with wagyu beef, leeks, grilled tofu, garland chrysanthemum, fu, shirataki mushrooms, and a raw egg.

The ingredients and the way of eating are too Japanese, so there are people who like it and dislike it, but some people are still captivated by sukiyaki.

When the Beatles came to Japan, they made sukiyaki their favorite Japanese food and spread its deliciousness throughout the world.

This restaurant is also recommended for foreigners who want to try Japanese-style wagyu beef, which is also popular overseas.

It is also recommended for foreigners who want to try Japanese-style wagyu beef.

Many foreigners like the sweet and spicy taste of soy sauce and sweetness in Japanese food.

The way of eating Sukiyaki with a raw egg instead of sauce is also innovative, so to us it seems like a representative of Japanese food, but Sukiyaki is considered to be a novel dish.

This Japanese dish is recommended for those who want to try the charm of Wagyu beef in a uniquely Japanese way.

If your partner is a Wagyu lover, this meal is recommended for dinners and entertainment.


Ramen is recognized overseas as a Japanese food.

There are almost always ramen shops in major cities around the world, and even foreigners who are interested in Japan have tasted ramen at least once.

In fact, even overseas, popular ramen stores have long lines of customers, and you have to wait in line to get a bowl of ramen.

This shows the popularity of ramen among foreigners who definitely want to try it when they visit Japan, the home of ramen.

Yaki-gyoza (grilled gyoza) is also popular.

Since only in Japan are gyoza dumplings grilled, many people from other Asian countries want to try yaki-gyoza in Japan.

Fun okonomiyaki for everyone

Okonomiyaki is filled with sweet and spicy sauce.

Okonomiyaki restaurants overseas are also popular every day, and in some cities you have to wait in line at lunchtime to get a bite.

Many foreigners like okonomiyaki, and when you invite your friends to your house, they will be very happy to have okonomiyaki.

The appeal of okonomiyaki is that you can enjoy cooking while getting together with friends in a lively atmosphere.

Enjoying hot okonomiyaki with beer is a universal taste.

The sizzling sound, the savory aroma of the sauce, and the gentle okonomiyaki flavor that fills your mouth are just a few of the many sensations you can enjoy with this Japanese soul food.

It is a very funny moment when everyone is impressed by the way the dried bonito flakes sprinkled on top of the okonomiyaki dance with the heat.

Otafuku Sauce, one of the most popular okonomiyaki sauces, has developed a sauce that does not contain alcohol or pork extract.

This has made okonomiyaki popular even in countries with a large Muslim population, and okonomiyaki is now spreading around the world.

Reference article: Halal Certification


Chicken is probably the most common meat eaten in almost every country in the world.

Chicken is a meat that is enjoyed by Muslims and Jews alike, and is found all over the world.

The most typical Japanese chicken dish is yakitori, or grilled chicken.

Japanese yakitori is popular both for the savory flavor of the sweet and spicy uniquely Japanese sauce and the simple salt seasoning.

It is rare to find a dish that offers such a simple taste of a part of chicken meat, making it a popular Japanese food among foreigners.

We see foreigners visiting Japan enjoying yakitori while being impressed by the sight of it being grilled deliciously in front of them over a charcoal fire.

curry and rice

Japanese curry and rice is one of the soul foods of the Japanese people.

Curry is another Japanese delicacy that impresses most foreigners.

Originally started as shipboard food for the Navy in Yokohama, this curry is now found in every home, and every restaurant has its own special flavor.

The sauce is thickened, which is not found in Thai or Indian curry.

And Japanese curry eaten with sticky Japanese white rice.

Another attraction of Japanese curry is the toppings that can be added.

Curry with fried food added, such as Katsu Curry and Fried Prawn Curry, are very popular among foreign men.

Please recommend them to your friends.

Don( rice bowl)

Oyakodon, katsudon, tendon, gyudon….

The variety of donburi in Japan is rich and varied.

Donburi is both a home-style dish and a specialty of many restaurants, making it a profoundly Japanese dish.

Donburi is also popular among foreigners, and foreign tourists can often be seen at the casual beef bowl restaurants.

Oyakodon is a popular Japanese dish that is both hearty and satisfying.

It is always exciting to talk about the origin of the name “oyakodon” (parent and child bowl).

And, “I want to know the recipe! I have also taught various rice bowl recipes to my foreign friends.

soba buckwheat noodle making experience wanko

Japanese soba noodles have become popular recently.

Soba is a popular food even in foreign countries for those who are concerned about gluten-free and other issues.

Although many countries have dishes using buckwheat flour, the Japanese way of eating buckwheat is rare in that it combines the taste of buckwheat with the taste of dashi (Japanese soup stock).

Soba-noodle making is a popular Japanese cultural experience.

And, “It looks interesting to foreigners! I want to try it! and “I want to try it once!

Wanko soba is also famous for Ford Fighting, but its origins date back to the Edo period (1603-1868).

It was originally made by the Nanbu clan near Iwate and Aomori prefectures.

When the soba was presented to the feudal lord in an elegant bowl, he was surprised at how delicious it was! The first bowl of soba was presented to the lord, who was so pleased with its taste that he kept changing the bowl one after another.

Many foreigners are interested in experiencing the deep history of Soba noodles as a Japanese cultural experience, and many foreign people visit restaurants where they can eat Soba noodles.

It would be fun to see how many people can eat the soba noodles served one after another at a party.

Japanese Sweets Japanese Sweets Class Experience Tea Ceremony Experience

While it is not customary to eat sweet beans in the West, Asian countries have their own sweet treats made from beans.

Japanese wagashi are a special type of confectionery that expresses the four seasons in detail, and the skill and delicacy of the taste is very special.

The best way to experience such wagashi is to have them with matcha (powdered green tea) at a tea ceremony experience.

Many foreigners are thrilled by seasonal wagashi at tea ceremonies.

Another popular activity is to actually make wagashi.

The “nerikiri” used in wagashi is just like clay, so anyone can easily participate in this workshop.

I want to try my hand at making something uniquely Japanese! This is the perfect Japanese cultural experience for foreigners who want to create something uniquely Japanese.

Make your own wagashi and enjoy it with a cup of delicious green tea.

It is a wonderful and chic Japanese cultural experience.


Japanese fried chicken, karaage.

Soft fried chicken based on garlic and soy sauce flavor is still popular among foreigners.

I have a foreign friend who happily tells me after returning to Japan, “I experienced the charm of karaage at an izakaya! I have a foreign friend who happily told me after returning to Japan.

This is another example of the power of izakaya drinking, where you can enjoy a variety of Japanese food.

Karage is readily available at convenience stores, etc., so one of my friends said, “When I went to Japan, all I ate was karaage. I ate only fried food when I went to Japan,” said one of my friends.

If you visit Japan in early spring, you must experience Japanese culture at hanami (cherry blossom viewing).

The most popular bento at hanami picnics is probably the karaage bento.

Karaage is always on the menu at Japanese take-out restaurants overseas as well, which shows the popularity of this dish.

Recommended related article: History and Japanese Culture of Hanami] Cherry Blossoms and Popular Spots Loved by Foreigners English Example Sentences

bread roll filled with various ingredients

Japan probably has the largest variety of bread in the world.

Japanese bread is soft and sweet, and a different type of bread developed in Japan than in other countries.

Bread is often thought of as a Western food, but Japanese bread is a fine example of Japanese cuisine.

Japanese bakeries offer a wide selection of breads, from deli breads to dessert breads, which are especially popular among foreigners.

Foreign visitors to Japan are continually attracted to unique Japanese flavors such as curry bread, mentaida french bread, burdock salad bread, croquette bread, melon bread, chocolate cornet, and steamed bread.

Recently, there are also bakeries run by Japanese people that sell Japanese delicatessen breads as Japanese bakeries overseas, and they are enjoyed as new gourmet spots in Japanese neighborhoods.


Teppan-yaki restaurants are said to be a must in every major overseas city.

For some reason, an increasing number of foreigners now answer that teppan-yaki is the second most popular Japanese cuisine after sushi.

The chef’s brilliant handiwork dances on the teppan on the counter.

It is a true culinary entertainment experience to see delicious and wonderful food appearing one after another.

On the beautifully polished griddle, fresh ingredients are carefully and artistically prepared.

Sometimes a flame is lit and a fragrant aroma fills the air.

Foreigners are said to be impressed and enjoy the sight of the food being carefully prepared one after another.

Koji Sake Brewery Tour Miso Making Experience

Fermented foods using koji are a uniquely Japanese food culture, and people want to taste the basic Japanese seasonings made from koji, such as miso, soy sauce, and sake.

With this in mind, sake brewery tours and soy sauce brewery tours are becoming increasingly popular.

In the sake brewery experience, visitors can actually tour a traditional sake brewery and enjoy tasting and sampling freshly made sake, an experience that is only possible in Japan.

The Sake Brewery Party is a great way to experience Japanese sake, as you can enjoy a tour of the brewery followed by a delicious meal with sake.

Live music, a dance party, and other special activities provide a unique opportunity to enjoy delicious sake and a lively atmosphere.

The experience of making miso with your own hands is also an interesting Japanese cultural experience for vegans and vegetarians.

In the West, where meat eating is the main diet, people experience miso making with strong curiosity because they are highly conscious of food other than meat.

Japanese food culture is profound and can be enjoyed from many different angles.


Japanese food always attracts attention from around the world.

It is very difficult to explain such profound Japanese food in a few words.

If you are asked a question about food by a foreigner, and you cannot think of anything to explain, it is a good chance for you to think slowly and reacquaint yourself with the food culture of your own country.

It is also important for us to reflect on the Japanese common sense that we have naturally acquired in the countries and societies in which we have grown up.

It is also important for us to do so.

It is through the eyes of outsiders that we can rediscover what is important and open our eyes to perspectives we have not seen before.

We would like to enjoy and share such opportunities with foreign residents.