​Delicious, must-try foods in Japan, that aren’t sushi

How many of you define Japanese food as sushi rolls and hibachi?

Before I met Joey (my Japanese boyfriend) I was one of you. It wasn’t until my 1st visit to Japan that I learned two things:

1. Nobody eats sushi rolls (rather sashimi or nigiri) and

2. Hibachi isn’t even Japanese! (*mind blown*). It’s from California!

It’s a shame that where I come from (Atlanta) these two options define Japanese Cuisine. But, I’m here to inform you of some of the delicious foods Japan has to offer, other than sushi.

In Japan, food plays an important role in the culture. Nutrition and respect for food are emphasized in schools, home life… everywhere!

So, if you’re planning a trip to Japan, here are some of my favorites that you need to try:

Snacks

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Osembe: Airy, rice cracker. Comes in various flavors/seasoning.

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Onigiri: Stuffed rice, various fillings, wrapped in seaweed. 

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Gyoza: Flour wraps, filled with pork & veggies, steamed, and fried on one side. 
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Ichigo Sando: Strawberry sandwich with fresh whipped cream. 

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Yakitori: Grilled meat skewers (usually a drinking food).

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Hokkaido Cream: Frozen yogurt from the Hokkaido region.

 Meals

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Shabu shabu: Thinly sliced Wagyu beef, dipped in hot water to cook. Served with noodles and veggies.

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Ekiben: Train Station Meal. An assortment of pre-made meals in a small box.

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Washoku: Multiple course meal of small portions, and a variety of foods.

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Ghenghis Kahn: Hokkaido mutton & veggies, grilled on a personal barbeque.

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Ramen: Fresh, flour noodles served with pork slices. Miso or soy-based soup.

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Tonkatsu: Panko-fried pork cutlets, served with pickles, miso soup, and rice.

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Example of full Tonkatsu & Kaki Fry set.

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Kaki fry: Panko-fried oysters (best during December-January), served with pickles, miso soup, and rice.

 As you can see, Japan’s food scene is waaaay more extensive than just raw fish (although I do love the fresh sushi). But for those of you that aren’t sushi fans, these delicious options to add to your repertoire! (And, if I caught you by surprise about hibachi… you’re not alone!) I hope you venture out and try the amazing dishes Japan has to offer on your next visit! Itadakimasu!


30 A Day: Why People in Japan Live Longer

In Japan, it is known as Shokuiku, the importance of teaching healthy eating habits. It is so important in Japanese culture that it starts in primary school, and in the home as soon as birth! The guideline is to eat 30 different varieties of food a day. No, that does NOT include pizza, donuts, fries, chips, Oreos, etc. It needs to be nutrient-dense foods. Eating 30 different nutritious foods is the best way to achieve optimal health for your body and therefore a longer life!

So, what should you consume?

I know what you’re thinking, “Eating 30 types of nutritional foods a day sounds tedious,” and I assure you, it is! It takes preparation, time and commitment. For example, my entire Sundays are dedicated to grocery shopping, prepping, cooking, packing, and so on. But to me, it is worth it if it adds a few extra years to my family’s life.

Here are some of the best foods you can put in your body and why:

Seaweed– supports thyroid function, a great source of minerals and vitamins, promotes healthy skin and hair.

Fish– omega 3, promotes brain function, and skin health.

Umeboshi (pickled plum)- high in antioxidants, promotes GI health, protects the liver, prevents cavities and oral disease.

Kimchi (spicy, pickled cabbage)– healthy bacteria (lactobacilli) may prevent cancer growth.

Citrus fruits– vitamin c, supports healthy skin.

Lotus Root– Boosts digestion, improves skin, hair and eye health.

Red beans– antioxidants, fiber, protein (when eaten with whole grain).

Okra– promotes digestion.

Green Tea– antioxidants, cognitive function, energy booster.

These are the foods that are typically in a Japanese diet, and well, they have some of the oldest people in their country so…

What does my 30 a day look like? 

Breakfast
Lunch

With just these two meals, I have already hit 30. I know, you’re probably counting and saying “there aren’t 30 different foods in this photo.” But drinks (milk, tea, juice) and other ingredients (vinegar dressing, sesame seed topping, etc) still count!

Tip: If you like soup, this is a GREAT way to consume many food varieties in one sitting!