What Do Japanese People Eat for Breakfast?

“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.”

Are you familiar with this famous quote?

Yes, a hearty breakfast can bring happiness. It works as good preparation for a productive day. When your day is productive, success is in your hand, and so does happiness.

And that’s why we Japanese prioritize this first meal of the day most by taking a wise and practical approach to it.

But do you know what do people eat for breakfast in japan?

Reading all this, maybe you are feeling interested right now. Okay, then stay with me till the end to satisfy your curiosity in this regard.

First, let’s see what the Japanese breakfast set includes.

What Dishes Are Included in a Traditional Japanese Breakfast?

A traditional Japanese breakfast includes steamed rice, miso soup, a protein-rich dish such as grilled fish, and some side dishes.

The most common side dishes are tsukemono (Japanese pickles), natto (fermented soybeans), nori (dried seasoned seaweed), kobachi (dishes which usually consist of vegetables), and a green salad.

traditional japanese breakfast set

Well, the Japanese breakfast menu may seem a bit surprising to you as it is likely different from any other kind of breakfast you have ever experienced.

I am saying this because it consists of such dishes that make up a complete meal. And anyone can probably enjoy this at lunch or dinner.

However, that doesn’t mean we are not health-conscious. The picture is quite the opposite, in fact.

Don’t you know about the quote that says, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper?”

So, eating breakfast like a king is good for health, and that’s why we do it.

Now let’s know about the Japanese breakfast dishes in detail that I mentioned earlier.

Popular Japanese Breakfast Foods List

Go through the following sections if you want to go deeper with Japanese style breakfast dishes.

1. Steamed Rice (Gohan)

The main source of carbohydrates in Japanese cuisine is either white rice (hakumai) or brown rice (genmai). And we always include this as the main dish in our breakfast that accompanies the protein servings and other side dishes.

gohan

Rice is simply steamed for a breakfast meal, which is called gohan. Sometimes it is also used to make okayu, a rice porridge, which both kids and adults like to enjoy.

2. Miso Soup (Miso Shiru)

Miso shiru is a Japanese breakfast soup that is prepared from fermented soybean paste and a dashi broth.

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Some other common ingredients such as chopped green onion, tofu, wakame seaweed, Japanese mushrooms, clams, aburaage (deep-fried tofu), or other seasonal ingredients are also added to this soup to make it more flavorful and delicious.

miso shiru soup with tofu, scallions, and wakame

Most Japanese households prefer to prepare this miso soup from scratch, starting with soybean paste and dashi broth.

However, you can also find pre-seasoned dashi-infused miso paste or instant miso soup packets (dried and wet packs) in the market for individual use. They only require the addition of water.

3. Fermented Soybeans (Natto)

Natto is a high-protein Japanese breakfast staple served over steamed rice.

Characterized by an intense aroma and muddy texture, it is a rustic dish of fermented soybeans.

natto

Natto is seasoned with soy sauce, along with some other optional ingredients such as chopped green onions, dried bonito shavings (katsuobushi), sliced dried and seasoned seaweed (kizaminori), spicy mustard (karashi), or other flavor add-ins.

This funky dish is very popular among the Japanese, and we love it for many good reasons!

natto with rice

It is enriched with protein, fiber, minerals, vitamin K2, and probiotics. Natto is one of the best superfoods to eat.

Anyway, if you don’t want any hassle, you can just buy packaged natto from Japanese and Asian grocery stores, where you will find them in the refrigerated section.

4. Grilled Fish (Yakizakana)

Fish is also included in Japanese breakfast, which contains high-quality protein, omega 3, and omega 6 fatty acids.

Freshly caught fish is either broiled or cooked in a pan after seasoning with salt only. It is one of my most preferred breakfast items.

grilled salmon

Among all fishes, salmon is my first choice. Another popular fish dish is dried horse mackerel, but you can enjoy any type of fish to enjoy a protein-rich Japanese breakfast.

grilled horse mackerel

If you are skipping fish, eggs would be an excellent source of protein for you. And right now, I will let you know about two Japanese breakfast recipes with eggs.

5. Japanese Rolled Omelette (Tamagoyaki)

Sweet yet savory tamagoyaki is my absolute favorite egg dish for breakfast. It is an expertly prepared, rolled, and presented egg omelette, which is more popular with children.

As tamagoyaki is a great freezer food, you don’t have to cook this right in the morning.

tamagoyaki

You can make a big amount and keep it in the refrigerator. Then reach for it when serving a Japanese breakfast at home.

Well, the rolled omelette is a bit difficult and time-consuming to make. Want to know about an easy Japanese breakfast item made with egg?

Okay, then check out the following section.

6. Tamago Kake Gohan

Tamago kake gohan is a Japanese rice egg breakfast dish that will provide you with protein and carbohydrates in the same bowl.

tamago kake gohan

This special breakfast meal is not only delicious and healthy but also very easy to prepare.

Just place a Japanese raw egg on top of steamed rice after seasoning it with soy sauce and salt.

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7. Pickled Vegetables (Tsukemono)

Tsukemono is one of the main side dishes in Japanese breakfast meals, which we usually relish with any type of rice dish.

You can try pickled cucumbers, daikon, cabbage, and pickled carrot with sweet vinegar, but a popular kind of tsukemono is pickled plum, known as umeboshi.

umeboshi

It makes a good combination with both plain steamed rice and rice porridge.

Pickled vegetables stimulate the appetite, provide refreshment, and enhance the overall flavors with a sweet, spicy, and sour taste.

different types of tsukemono

Anyway, you can find a wide variety of pickles in the refrigerated section of Japanese and Asian grocery shops.

8. Seasoned Dried Seaweed (Nori)

Ajitsuke nori or dried and seasoned seaweed is also a staple food item of typical Japanese breakfast, which is eaten with steamed rice.

nori with rice balls

Since it is seasoned, you can enjoy it as it is with rice, but if you want some flavor, dip it in a small plate of soy sauce and then eat by wrapping it with rice.

9. Vegetable Side Dishes (Kobachi)

Traditional Japanese breakfast commonly includes different types of vegetables of small portions. These minor side dishes are known as kobachi.

Except for pickled ones, you can consume these vegetables by cooking or as fresh salads.

spinach salad with sesame dressing

Some common vegetable side dishes that we keep in our breakfast menu are spinach salad with sesame dressing, mashed tofu salad with greens, green bean gomaae (sesame dressing), and blanched broccoli with sesame oil.

tofu salad

Eating these fiber-rich foods helps us stay full for a long time and improves health in general.

So you should always include a vegetable side dish to complement the breakfast meal.

10. Tofu

A traditional Japanese dish, tofu is made from curdled soy milk and shaped into blocks that look like cheese. We certainly love its taste, and that’s why it is a popular side dish in many of our meals.

plain tofu

Tofu may taste somewhat boring and tasteless to you. However, in that case, you probably haven’t tried it in the right way.

Tofu is usually topped with various ingredients, such as scallions, grated ginger, and soy sauce, to make it more flavorous.

Deep Fried, Tofu with Ground Ginger , Scallion and Soy Sauce

11. Green Tea

Lastly, you can enjoy a cup of hot green tea to complete your breakfast.

green tea

So, this is the overall picture of traditional Japanese breakfast.

Well, if you want to prepare all the dishes right in the morning, it will take a lot of time. That’s why, to make it easier for you, I am letting you know about some shortcut tips about preparing this meal.

How Do You Prepare a Traditional Japanese Breakfast?

Though it seems that you need to do a lot to prepare Japanese breakfast meals as it comprises many dishes, you can still keep it plain by including one item from each of these: rice dish, soup, protein (egg, fish, fermented soybeans), and a side dish (a vegetable dish or pickle).

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Then you may complete your meal with a cup of hot green tea.

As making all these is time-consuming, Japanese families often utilize leftover steamed rice by warming it in a rice cooker or porridge cooked in a rice cooker using the timer.

Leftover miso soup from the night before is also often be reheated to save time.

Other shortcuts may include preserved kelp (tsukudani) or pre-made pickles (tsukemono). Besides these, individual portions of other rice seasonings (furikake or dried seaweed) or pre-packaged fermented soybeans (natto) available for sale at the grocery store may also help you in this shortcut preparation of common Japanese breakfast.

While most Japanese folks enjoy a traditional breakfast, western breakfasts are also very popular nowadays.

They are being interested in it with time.

Now, let’s have a look at the scenario of modern Japanese breakfast.

Western Style Modern Japanese Breakfast

As western culture spread throughout Japan, the Japanese breakfast table has evolved to include western breakfast options like bread, toast, tea, coffee.

But as we still prefer a high-energy option, we often like to eat shokupan (fluffy white bread) toast with jam.

Bread with Raspberry Jam

Besides this bread with jam, yogurt has become very popular. Many Japanese people eat these foods along with a portion of protein like fried or scrambled eggs.

western breakfast

As we always want to have a balanced meal, sometimes we also have a small bowl of fresh salad as a source of fiber.

Those who eat yogurt usually eat fruits like bananas or apples with it. It is a good source of protein, and you will find a wide range of yogurts in stores.

yogrut with bananas and apples

For breakfast drinks, coffee is commonly consumed by many Japanese. Most households even have instant coffee. You can also buy hot and cold coffee from most stores and vending machines.

coffee

Most foreigners visiting Japan may not like the idea of having rice, grilled fish, and natto in the morning. It may not seem so appetizing to them. And that’s why western style breakfasts are readily available at many hotels and restaurants all over the country.

This modern breakfast is popular with Japanese folk, too. And surprisingly, they are often choosing it over the traditional Japanese breakfast nowadays.

Well, by this time, you got a broad idea about Japanese breakfast. Then, I am wrapping it up here.

Conclusion

So, what do Japanese people eat for breakfast?

I guess now you know the answer very well. Right?

Hopefully, this write-up will inspire you to prepare a traditional Japanese breakfast at home.

Just wake up a little early on your weekend, and have some fun in the kitchen!

And yes, don’t forget to take some snaps and share them with your family and friends on Instagram.