what do people eat for breakfast in japan

What Do Japanese People Eat for Breakfast?

Jun 05, 2024Shopify API

Curious about what's included in a typical Japanese breakfast? Here we discuss in detail about what do Japanese people eat for breakfast. Check it out!

Japanese prioritize the 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 Do Japanese People Eat for 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.

What Do Japanese People Eat for Breakfast?

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.

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.


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.

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 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.


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.

7. Pickled Vegetables (Otsukemono)

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.


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) Or Ohitashi

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).

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.


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.

Japanese Breakfast Foods: FAQs

What time do Japanese eat Breakfast?

There's no strict timing for Japanese breakfast. However, in general, most Japanese people have their breakfast between 6:00 AM and 8:00 AM as most people in Japan tend to wake up early by around 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning.

What Fish Do Japanese Eat for Breakfast?

The most popular choice of fish at a Japanese breakfast table is salmon and mackerel which is grilled or sauteed in a pan. This type of cooked fish is called yakizakana. The fish is simply just salted and then grilled or broiled and served. Fish like salmon and mackerel are rich in omega 3s and protein making it the best choice for a Japanese breakfast. 

Are Eggs Included in a Japanese Breakfast? 

Tamagoyaki (Japanese style egg omelet) is a popular and one of the main Japanese breakfast items. Tamagoyaki is rolled in the pan and served. Other than this, another popular Japanese breakfast dish that includes egg is the Tamago-kake gohan. It is a bowl of hot steaming rice topped with raw egg.

Why do Japanese people eat natto?

Sure! Japanese people eat natto because it has a unique taste, is highly nutritious, offers probiotic benefits, is deeply rooted in cultural tradition, versatile in its use, and benefits from the seasonal availability of soybeans.

What do you say before and after a meal in Japan?

In Japanese culture, it is customary to say a few words before and after a meal. These words are a way of showing gratitude for the food and the people who prepared it.

Before a meal:

  • Itadakimasu (いただきます) - This phrase literally means "I receive." It is a way of showing gratitude for the food and the people who prepared it. It is often said with hands together in a prayer-like gesture.

After a meal:

  • Gochisosama deshita (ごちそうさまでした) - This phrase literally means "It was a feast." It is a way of expressing thanks for the delicious meal. It is often said with hands together in a prayer-like gesture.

It is also common to say "itadakimasu" and "gochisosama deshita" in restaurants, even if you are not eating with Japanese people. This is a way of showing respect for the chef and the restaurant.

Do Japanese eat toast for breakfast?

Japanese people do eat toast for breakfast, but it is not as common as other breakfast foods like rice, miso soup, and fish. Toast is often served with butter, jam, or natto (fermented soybeans). It is also sometimes served with an omelet or a hard-boiled egg.

While toast is not part of a traditional Japanese breakfast, in modern times many Japanese people have adopted some western breakfast influences, like bread but have given their own Japanese spin to it.

For example, toasted Japanese bread with sweet red bean paste (anko) is a popular breakfast option in Japan today.

japanese bread with anko for breakfast

Are Japanese breakfasts healthy?

Japanese breakfasts are generally considered to be healthy and well-balanced. Traditional Japanese breakfasts often consist of a variety of nutritious and wholesome foods.

Here are some characteristics of a typical Japanese breakfast and why it is considered healthy:

  1. Fish: Grilled fish, such as salmon or mackerel, is a common protein source in Japanese breakfasts. Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health.
  2. Rice: Steamed white rice is a staple in Japanese cuisine. It provides essential carbohydrates for energy.
  3. Miso Soup: Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup made from fermented soybean paste (miso), which contains probiotics and nutrients. It is low in calories and adds flavor to the meal.
  4. Natto: As mentioned earlier, natto is a popular fermented soybean dish in Japan. It contributes to the breakfast's nutritional value with its protein, fiber, and probiotic content.
  5. Seaweed: Seaweed, such as nori (used in sushi) or wakame (used in miso soup), is a common ingredient in Japanese breakfasts. Seaweed is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  6. Vegetables: Japanese breakfasts often include a variety of vegetables like pickles, radishes, or steamed greens, providing essential vitamins and dietary fiber.
  7. Green Tea: Green tea is a common beverage served with Japanese breakfasts. It is known for its antioxidants and potential health benefits.

What are four breakfast food commonly consumed in Japan?

Four common breakfast foods in Japan are rice, miso soup, grilled fish, and seaweed (nori).


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.

More articles