Japan: basic facts
Food and Drink
If you visited a home for a traditional dinner, you would be served rice, perhaps a soup made from soybean paste (miso), pickles, and either fish or meat. Popular seasonings include soy sauce (shoyu), green horseradish (wasabi) and toasted seaweed (nori).
Although rice is the main staple of the Japanese diet, fish is also an important food source. A favourite dish, deep-fried seafood and vegetables (tempura), was introduced to Japan by 16th century Portuguese traders. Sashimi, thin strips of raw fish, and sushi, slices of raw fish on top small portions of rice flavoured with vinegar, are Japanese foods that are well-known through-out the world.
Buckwheat (soba) and wheat (udon) noodles are favourite substitutes for rice. These noodles are commonly served in a deep bowl of hot soup stock, topped with vegetables, fried bean curd, or tempura.
Green tea (ocha) is the best loved drink in Japan. It is served after meals and whenever people get together. Ocha is drunk hot, with nothing added to it. Other popular beverages include coffee, black tea (kocha), wines made from rice (sake) and liquors made from malted rice and other grains (shochu) or from fruits like plums.