What do you eat in Japan?



“The sushi must be really good.”

“You eat rice everyday?”

“Do you like the food?”

“I couldn’t live there, I don’t like Japanese food.”

These are just a few that I have heard over the years so let me share with you what is really going on at the dinner table.

Some foods are not sold outside of Japan, some foods are illegal outside of Japan.

A prime example is horse. Yes, if you go into a nice supermarket or a nice restaurant you can get horse meat. Last year they made it illegal to eat raw I believe, but you can still get it to cook in your home or cooked in a restaurant. I tried it….it basically tastes like salami. Very salty. I don’t have any religious restrictions and no moral convictions about trying anything at least once. Sorry sugarfoot.

Yes, I like the food and what that really means is I like the flavors in the range of Japanese cuisine.┬áThere are many fermented foods like natto. There are many pickled foods like skemono. This is a big one for Americans because mostly two tastes dominate our dining….salty and sweet. The reality is that the taste of the food is a clue into the health benefit it provides. There is a vegetable called Goya(bitter melon). It is super bitter and so cleansing that it is not usually given to children or nursing mothers. Seasonings commonly used are….Sake, Mirin, and Shoyu(soy sauce). Every Japanese home has these. Various combinations of these make the most delicious dishes.

rice plant

rice plant

Yes, I eat rice everyday. A large family would eat about 2kg a day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner….rice rice rice. In the states white rice is demonized for making people fat; and yes, it is healthier to eat other grains or brown rice if you must, but I don’t see any obese people around here. People don’t eat out for breakfast and you can often find pancakes served as if they were a desert or snack, not the first meal of the day.

Sushi. Sorry to disappoint, but there is crappy sushi here just like any other place in the world. I had some sushi from a bento place and almost spit it out. I was like ugh…I can taste the preservatives. It was truly gross. But my disclaimer is; my husband is a chef and when we lived in NY he served celebrities(still does sometimes), so the level of food he has exposed me to has cultivated a palate beyond spoiled. Actually, California is the number one consumer of sushi in the world, more than Japan. Sushi is only about 100 years old and I even have a friend…yes a Japanese friend who does not like sushi. We’ve made it in our home maybe 2 times in 3 years. It is a party food, social food, not really a daily or even monthly staple of the diet.

Sweet Potato

Sweet Potato

The only thing that shocked and still annoys me is the lack and price of fruit. I still cannot bring myself to buy a mango for $5-$10USD. This is a veggie heavy country. Most people in small towns farm so we always have. I am constantly dying for fruit. Thank goodness we do have orange trees that yield a nice harvest in the fall. If you head over to my instagram you will see that I post my groceries from time to time and our vegetable harvests. This season eggplant is all over the place. Tabesugi!

Finally, Western food. Can I get food from home? Yes and no. I found some junk food,┬áReeses peanut butter cups, but I don’t need $20 worth. Unfortunately that is all they sell. See, you can get just about anything but it is gonna cost you…..big time. There is a Costco here but I have only been once. Until my boys become teenagers I won’t need $10 worth of dinner rolls or $30 worth of Pesto.

Let me know what you are having for dinner tonight. I need a vicarious Western meal.

Be Well.

About Tara Kamiya

I am a personality blogger of Japanese & African American marriage and motherhood. Featured in the U.S. on Four Weddings Season 2. For product reviews, speaking engagements and appearances please contact me via email: kamiyatara@gmail.com
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