Gohan or meshi: plainly cooked white rice. It is such a staple that the terms gohan and meshi are also used to refer to meals in general, such as Asa gohan/meshi (朝御飯, 朝飯, breakfast), Hiru gohan/meshi (昼御飯, 昼飯, lunch), and Ban gohan/meshi (晩御飯, 晩飯, dinner). Also, raw rice is called kome (米, rice), while cooked rice is gohan (ご飯, [cooked] rice). Nori (海苔), and furikake (ふりかけ) are popular condiments in Japanese breakfast. Some alternatives are:
Curry rice (karē raisu カレーライス): Introduced from the UK in the late 19th century, "curry rice" is now one of the most popular dishes in Japan. It is much milder than its Indian counterpart.
Chāhan (炒飯) or yakimeshi (焼飯): fried rice, adapted to Japanese tastes, tends to be lighter in flavor and style than the Chinese version from which it is derived
Zosui (Zōsui, 雑炊) or Ojiya (おじや) is a soup containing rice stewed in stock, often with egg, meat, seafood, vegetables or mushroom, and flavored with miso or soy. Known as juushii in Okinawa. Some similarity to risotto and Kayu though Zosui uses cooked rice, as the difference is that kayu is made from raw rice.
Sushi (寿司, 鮨, 鮓) is a vinegared rice topped or mixed with various fresh ingredients, usually seafood or vegetables.
Nigirizushi (握り寿司): Sushi with the ingredients on top of a block of rice.
Makizushi (巻き寿司): Translated as "roll sushi". Seasoned rice and seafood or other ingredients are placed on a sheet of seaweed (nori, dried laver) and rolled into a cylindrical shape, then sliced into smaller rounds. Typical ingredients are Tamagoyaki (Japanese-style omelette), simmered shiitake mushroom, boiled prawn and cucumber.
Temaki (手巻き) orTemakizushi (手巻き寿司): Basically the same as makizushi, except that the nori is rolled into a cone-shape with the ingredients placed inside. Sometimes referred to as a "hand-roll".
Chirashizushi (ちらし寿司) or Bara-zushi (バラ寿司): Translated as "scattered", chirashi involves fresh seafood, vegetables or other ingredients being placed on top of sushi rice in a bowl or dish.
Inarizushi (稲荷寿司, お稲荷さん): Fried tofu packet braised in sweet soy sauce stuffed with sushi rice (no fillings)
Oshizushi (押し寿司): A pressed sushi using cured or cooked fish, most commonly mackerel.
Chinese-influenced noodles are served in a meat or chicken broth and have only appeared in the last 100 years or so.
Ramen (ラーメン): thin light yellow noodles served in hot chicken or pork broth with various toppings; of Chinese origin, it is a popular and common item in Japan. Also known as Shina-soba (支那そば) or Chūka-soba (中華そば) (both mean "Chinese-style soba").
Champon (ちゃんぽん): yellow noodles of medium thickness served with a great variety of seafood and vegetable toppings in a hot chicken broth which originated in Nagasaki as a cheap food for students.
Hiyashi chūka (冷やし中華): thin, yellow noodles served cold with a variety of toppings, such as cucumber, tomato, ham or chicken, bean sprouts, thin-sliced omelet, etc., and a cold sauce (soy sauce based, sesame based, etc.). The name means "cold Chinese noodles."
Mazesoba (台湾まぜそば: wheat noodles served with a number of savory toppings, including raw egg, ginger, and meat
Okinawa soba (沖縄そば): thick wheat-flour noodles served in Okinawa, often served in a hot broth with sōki, steamed pork. Akin to a cross between udon and ramen.
Bread (the word "pan" (パン) is derived from the Portuguesepão) is not native to Japan and is not considered traditional Japanese food, but since its introduction in the 16th century it has become common.
Yakiniku ("grilled meat" 焼肉) may refer to several things. Vegetables such as bite-sized onion, carrot, cabbage, mushrooms, and bell pepper are usually grilled together. Grilled ingredients are dipped in a sauce known as tare before being eaten.
Horumonyaki ("offal-grill" ホルモン焼き): similar homegrown dish, but using offal
Jingisukan (Genghis Khan ジンギスカン) barbecue: sliced lamb or mutton grilled with various vegetables, especially onion and cabbage and dipped in a rich tare sauce. A speciality of Hokkaidō.
Yakitori (焼き鳥): barbecued chicken skewers, usually served with beer. In Japan, yakitori usually consists of a wide variety of parts of the chicken. It is not usual to see straight chicken meat as the only type of yakitori in a meal.
Yakizakana [ja] (焼き魚) is flame-grilled fish, often served with grated daikon. Was one of the most common dishes served at home. Because of the simple cuisine, fresh fish in season are highly preferable. Some species traded as dried fish, such as hokke (Arabesque greenling) are also served this way.
Shabu-shabu (しゃぶしゃぶ): hot pot with thinly sliced beef, vegetables, and tofu, cooked in a thin stock at the table and dipped in a soy or sesame-based dip before eating.
Sukiyaki (すき焼き): thinly sliced beef and vegetables cooked in a mixture of soy sauce, dashi, sugar, and sake. Participants cook at the table then dip food into their individual bowls of raw egg before eating it.
Chirinabe [ja] (ちり鍋): hot pot with fish and vegetables.
Tetchiri [ja] (てっちり): hot pot with blowfish and vegetables, a specialty of Osaka.
Nimono (煮物) is a stewed or simmered dish. A base ingredient is simmered in shiru stock flavored with sake, soy sauce, and a small amount of sweetening.
Oden (おでん, "kantou-daki", 関東炊き): surimi, boiled eggs, daikon radish, konnyaku, and fish cakes stewed in a light, soy-flavored dashi broth. Common wintertime food and often available in convenience stores.
Kakuni (角煮): chunks of pork belly stewed in soy, mirin and sake with large pieces of daikon and whole boiled eggs. The Okinawan variation, using awamori, soy sauce and miso, is known as rafuti (ラフテー).
Nikujaga (肉じゃが): beef and potato stew, flavored with sweet soy.
Nizakana [ja] (煮魚): fish poached in sweet soy (often on the menu as "nitsuke" (煮付け)).
Sōki (ソーキ): Okinawan dish of pork stewed with bone.
Stir-frying (炒め物) is not a native method of cooking in Japan, however mock-Chinese stir fries such as yasai itame [ja] (野菜炒め, stir fried vegetables) have been a staple in homes and canteens across Japan since the 1950s. Home grown stir fries include:
Chanpurū (チャンプルー): A stir-fry from Okinawa, of vegetables, tofu, meat or seafood and sometimes egg. Many varieties, the most famous being gōyā chanpurū.
Basashi (馬刺し): horse meat sashimi, sometimes called sakura (桜), is a regional speciality in certain areas such as Shinshu (Nagano, Gifu and Toyama prefectures) and Kumamoto. Basashi features on the menu of many izakayas, even on the menus of big national chains.
Nattō (納豆): fermented soybeans, stringy like melted cheese, infamous for its strong smell and slippery texture. Often eaten for breakfast. Typically popular in Kantō and Tōhoku but slowly gaining popularity in other regions in which nattō was not as popular
Ohitashi [ja] (お浸し): boiled greens such as spinach, chilled and flavored with soy sauce, often with garnish
Melonpan: a large, round bun which is a combination of regular dough beneath cookie dough. It occasionally contains a melon-flavored cream, though traditionally it is called melon bread because of its general shape resembling that of a melon (not due to any melon flavor).
Ice cream - usual flavors such as vanilla and chocolate are the most common. Distinctly Japanese ones include Matcha Ice (green tea ice cream), less common ones include Goma (black sesame seed) and sweet potato flavors.
Genmaicha is green tea combined with roasted brown rice.
Gyokuro: Gyokuro leaves are shaded from direct sunlight for approximately 3 weeks before the spring harvest. Removing direct sunlight in this way enhances the proportions of flavonols, amino acids, sugars, and other substances that provide tea aroma and taste. After harvesting the leaves are rolled and dried naturally. Gyokuro is slightly sweeter than sencha and is famous for its crisp, clean taste. Major growing areas include Uji, Kyōto and Shizuoka prefecture.
Sake (酒) is a rice wine that typically contains 12%–20% alcohol and is made by a double fermentation of rice. Kōjji fungus is first used to ferment the rice starch into sugar. Regular brewing yeast is used in the second fermentation to make alcohol. At traditional meals, it is considered an equivalent to rice and is not simultaneously taken with other rice-based dishes. Side dishes for sake is particularly called sakana (肴, 酒菜), or otsumamiおつまみ or ateあて.
Shōchū is a distilled beverage, most commonly made from barley, sweet potatoes, or rice. Typically, it contains 25% alcohol by volume.
Pan — bread, introduced by Portugal. (bread is pão in Portuguese.) Japanese bread crumbs, panko, have been popularized by cooking shows.
Tempura — so thoroughly adopted that its foreign roots are unknown to most people, including many Japanese. As such, it is considered washoku (和食, native food).
Yōshoku (洋食) is a style of Western-influenced food.
Breaded seafood or vegetables (furai [ja], フライ, derived from "fry"), and breaded meat (katsuretsu, カツレツ, derived from "cutlet" and often contracted to katsu), are usually served with shredded cabbage and/or lettuce, Japanese Worcestershire or tonkatsu sauce and lemon. Tempura, a related dish, has been heavily modified since its introduction to Japan by use of batter and dashi-flavored dip, and is usually considered to be washoku.
Korokke ("croquette" コロッケ) - breaded mashed potato and minced meat patties. When white sauce is added, it is called cream korokke. Other ingredients such as crab meat, shrimp, or mushrooms are also used instead of minced meat which are called kani-, ebi-, or kinoko-cream korokke, respectively.
Japanese curry - rice - imported in the 19th century by way of the United Kingdom and adapted by Japanese Navy chefs. One of the most popular food items in Japan today. Eaten with a spoon. Curry is often eaten with pickled vegetables called fukujinzuke or rakkyo
Curry Pan - deep fried bread with Japanese curry sauce inside. The pirozhki of Russia was remodeled, and Curry bread was made.
Curry udon [ja] - is a hot noodle dish where the soup is made of Japanese curry and dashi. May also include meat or vegetables.
Hayashi rice (ハヤシライス) - beef and onions stewed in a red-wine sauce and served on rice
Nikujaga - soy sauce-flavored meat and potato stew that has been made in Japan to the extent that it is now considered washoku, but again originates from 19th century Japanese Navy chefs adapting beef stews of the Royal Navy.
Omu raisu - ketchup-flavored rice wrapped in omelet.
Other items were popularized after the war:
Hamburg steak - a ground beef patty, usually mixed with breadcrumbs and fried chopped onions, served with a side of white rice and vegetables. Often accompanied with demiglace sauce. Popular post-war food item served at homes. Sometimes eaten with a fork.
Pizza - The popular American pizza companies Domino's, Pizza Hut and Shakey's all operate in Japan, but Japanese brands such as Aoki's and Pizza-La are higher-grossing and famous for catering to Japanese taste. Many pizza chains offer seasonal toppings. Japanese versions include:
Gyoza are a very popular dish in Japan. Gyoza are the Japanese take on the Chinese dumplings with rich garlic flavor. Most often, they are seen in the crispy pan-fried form (potstickers), but they can be served boiled or even deep fried, as well.
Japanese-only "Chinese dishes" like ebi chili (shrimp in a tangy and slightly spicy sauce)
Mābō dōfu tends to be thinner than Chinese mapo doufu.
Nikuman, anman, butaman and the obscure negi-man are all varieties of mantou with fillings.
A citrus fruit called yuzu is also a frequent condiment, mashed up into a relish, sold as yuzukoshō and is blended with pepper/chili and salt. Yuzukoshō is eaten with many dishes, adding a flavorful kick to broth/soup items such as oden, nikujaga, tonjiru, udon as well as other dishes. Yuzu is also seen to flavor teas, jams or zeri (jelly), and any number of sweets from yuzu-an (a type of bean paste) to yuzu-hachimitsu (yuzu-honey).
Less traditional, but widely used ingredients include:
Monosodium glutamate, which is often used by chefs and food companies as a cheap flavor enhancer. It may be used as a substitute for kombu, which is a traditional source of free glutamate
Japanese-style Worcestershire sauce, often known as simply "sauce", thicker and fruitier than the original, is commonly used as a table condiment for okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), tonkatsu (トンカツ), croquette ("korokke", コロッケ) and the like.
Japanese mayonnaise is used with salads, okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), yaki soba (焼きそば) and sometimes mixed with wasabi or soy sauce.