The traditional food of Japan is based on rice with miso soup and other dishes, each in its own utensil, with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients. The side dishes often consist of fish, pickled vegetables, and vegetables cooked in broth. With Japan being an island fish is common in the traditional cuisine. It is often grilled, but it may also be served raw as sashimi or in sushi. Seafood and vegetables are also deep-fried in a light batter as tempura.
Apart from rice, staples include noodles, such as soba and udon. Japan has many simmered dishes such as fish products in broth called oden, or beef in sukiyaki and nikujaga. Foreign food, in particular Chinese food in the form of noodles in soup called ramen and fried dumplings, gyoza, and western food such as curry and hamburger steaks are commonly found in Japan. Historically, the Japanese shunned meat, but with the modernization of Japan in the 1860s, meat-based dishes such as tonkatsu became common. Japanese cuisine offers a great variety of dishes and regional specialties.
For over 2000 years, rice has been the most important food in Japanese cuisine. Despite changes in eating patterns over the last few decades and slowly decreasing rice consumption in recent years, rice remains one of the most important ingredients in Japan today.
The typical Japanese meal consists of a bowl of rice (gohan), a bowl of miso soup (miso shiru), pickled vegetables (tsukemono) and fish or meat. While rice is the staple food, several kinds of noodles (udon, soba and ramen) are cheap and very popular for light meals. The Japanese take great pride in their seafood and therefore swide variety of fish, squid, octopus, eel, and shellfish appear in all kinds of dishes from sushi to tempura.
The traditonal Japanese breakfast consists of steamed rice, miso (soy bean paste) soup, and side dishes, such as grilled fish, tamagoyaki (rolled omelet), pickles, nori (dried seaweed), natto, and so on. Various rice bowls and noodle dishes are popular for lunch. For example, noodle dishes such as ramen, soba, udon andgyudon beef bowls are popular. Many people take bento lunch boxes to school or work. Dinner is usually the main meal of the day. Modern Japanese dishes are highly influenced by other Asian and Western cuisines.