The History of Japanese Food

The History of Japanese Food

The History of Japanese Food

Posted on April 30, 2023

Japanese cuisine has a rich history that spans thousands of years. The cuisine has evolved over time and has been influenced by various factors such as geography, religion, and cultural exchange. In this blog post, we will explore the history of Japanese food and how it has developed into the culinary art form that we know today.

The Early Days

During the Jomon period, the hunter-gatherer lifestyle was prevalent, and the diet consisted of seafood, wild plants, and game. Clay pots and stone ovens were used to cook food, and preservation techniques such as smoking and drying were used to extend the shelf life of food. This period saw the development of the earliest forms of fermented food, including narezushi, which was made by fermenting fish with salt and rice.

The Nara and Heian Periods

The introduction of Buddhism during the Nara and Heian periods had a significant impact on Japanese cuisine. The concept of vegetarianism was introduced, and Buddhist monks developed a sophisticated cuisine that focused on the use of seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Soy sauce, miso, and tofu were used extensively, and the first sushi-like dish, narezushi, was introduced.

The Kamakura and Muromachi Periods

During the Kamakura and Muromachi periods, the samurai class emerged, and the culture of tea drinking became popular. This led to the development of kaiseki cuisine, which is a multi-course meal that is served during traditional tea ceremonies. The use of grilled and simmered dishes also became popular during this time, and the concept of shojin ryori, which is a vegetarian cuisine developed by Zen Buddhist monks, was established.

The Edo Period

The Edo period was a turning point in Japanese cuisine. The capital city was moved to Edo (now Tokyo), and the shogunate government implemented policies to encourage the consumption of seafood, which led to the development of sushi as we know it today. Tempura, udon, and soba noodles also became popular during this time, and street food such as takoyaki (octopus balls) and yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) became popular among the general population.

Modern Times

In the late 19th century, Japan opened up to the world and experienced rapid modernization. Western influences led to the introduction of new ingredients and cooking techniques, such as frying and baking. The fusion of Japanese and Western cuisine gave rise to new dishes such as katsu curry and teriyaki chicken. Japanese cuisine has also experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years, with traditional dishes such as ramen and sushi becoming popular worldwide.

The Most Traditional Japanese Food

Japanese cuisine is a diverse and vibrant culinary art form that has evolved over thousands of years. The cuisine is known for its emphasis on fresh and seasonal ingredients, beautiful presentation, and balance of flavors. In this article, we will explore some of the most traditional Japanese foods that have stood the test of time and continue to be popular today.


Sushi is perhaps the most iconic of all Japanese foods. The dish consists of vinegared rice that is topped with various toppings such as raw fish, cooked seafood, or vegetables. Sushi originated in the Edo period (1603-1868) and was initially a type of street food sold by vendors. Today, sushi is enjoyed around the world and has evolved into many different styles and varieties.


Tempura is a type of Japanese fried food that is made by coating seafood, vegetables, or other ingredients in a light batter and deep-frying them until they are golden brown. The dish was introduced to Japan by Portuguese traders in the 16th century and has since become a popular and traditional Japanese food. Tempura is typically served as a side dish or as part of a set meal.

Soba and Udon Noodles

Soba and udon noodles are two types of traditional Japanese noodles that are made from wheat flour. Soba noodles are thin and made from buckwheat flour, while udon noodles are thick and made from wheat flour. Both types of noodles are served in a variety of dishes such as soups, stir-fries, and salads. Soba and udon noodles are also popularly served cold in the summer months.


Ramen is a type of noodle soup that has become a beloved staple of Japanese cuisine. The dish consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles that are served in a rich broth, which can be flavored with pork, chicken, or seafood. Ramen is typically topped with sliced meat, boiled eggs, and vegetables. The popularity of ramen has led to the development of many regional styles and varieties throughout Japan.

Miso Soup

Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup that is made from a fermented soybean paste called miso. The soup typically includes ingredients such as seaweed, tofu, and vegetables, and is served as a side dish or as part of a set meal. Miso soup is known for its health benefits and is rich in probiotics, antioxidants, and essential nutrients.


Yakitori is a type of grilled chicken skewer that is marinated in a sweet and savory sauce and cooked over charcoal. The dish is typically served as a snack or as part of a set meal and is a popular izakaya (Japanese pub) food. Yakitori can be made from various parts of the chicken, including the breast, thigh, and skin.


Okonomiyaki is a savory Japanese pancake that is made with cabbage, flour, eggs, and a variety of other ingredients such as seafood, meat, or vegetables. The ingredients are mixed together and then cooked on a griddle. The pancake is typically topped with a special sauce and mayonnaise.


Shabu-Shabu is a type of hot pot dish that is made by cooking thinly sliced meat and vegetables in a pot of boiling water. The dish is typically served with dipping sauces such as ponzu or sesame sauce, and is a popular dish for special occasions or gatherings.


Tonkatsu is a type of breaded and fried pork cutlet that is a popular dish in Japan. The pork is typically coated in panko breadcrumbs and then fried until crispy. The dish is often served with rice, miso soup, and a side of shredded cabbage. Tonkatsu can also be served in a sandwich or as part of a set meal.

In conclusion, Japanese cuisine has a long and fascinating history that reflects the cultural and societal changes that Japan has undergone over time. At Fuki Sushi & Ramen in Philadelphia, we are proud to offer a wide variety of authentic Japanese dishes that showcase the rich history and diversity of Japanese cuisine. Contact us today at [email protected] to make a reservation and experience the culinary art of Japan for yourself.

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