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Japanese Food Glossary

Japan flag. Glossary of Japanese Food Words & Phrases

Japanese Food Glossary 日本料理

A glossary of Japanese food words and phrases. Further information on many of the listed Japanese food terms is available via accompanying links, plus information on related food products and Japanese ingredients.



Japanese Food Glossary.

Aburaage  油揚げ - tofu slices fried in sesame oil

Aemono  和え物 - cold dishes (usually vegetables, fish or chicken) mixed with a dressing

Agari  あがり - term for tea in Japanese sushi restaurants

Agedashi-dofu  揚げ出し豆腐 - deep-fried tofu

Aji  アジ - horse mackerel

Aji  味 - taste, flavor

Ama-ebi  アマエビ- (lit. "sweet shrimp") Alaskan pink shrimp Pandalus eous

Amazake  甘酒 - sweet, low- or non-alcohol drink made from fermented rice

Amazu  甘酢 - sweet vinegar, usually used for pickling

Anago  アナゴ - conger/saltwater eel

Anko  あんこ - sweet bean paste made from azuki beans

Ankoh  アンコウ - anglerfish, monkfish, goosefish

Asa-gohan  朝ごはん - or choshoku  朝食 - breakfast

Asari  アサリ - short-necked clam, Japanese littleneck, Manila clam Ruditapes philippinarum

Ayu  アユ - sweetfish, ayu Plecoglossus altivelis

Awabi  アワビ - abalone

Azuki  アワビ - small red bean Vigna angularis


Baagaa  バーガー - burger, hamburger

Ban-gohan  晩ご飯 - or - yushoku  夕食 - dinner, supper

Basashi  馬刺し - raw horse meat

Bento  弁当 - a boxed meal of rice, pickles and small portion of, typically, fish, poached egg, sausage, beans, etc., served in restaurants, train stations or prepared as a packed lunch for school children.

Biiru  ビール - beer

Buri  ブリ - yellowtail, Japanese amberjack Seriola quinqueradiata


Chahan  チャーハン - fried rice

Chankonabe  ちゃんこ鍋 - a mixed stew traditionally eaten by sumo wrestlers

Chawanmushi  茶碗蒸し - egg custard with vegetables, ginnan and usually chicken

Chazuke  茶漬け - Japanese tea poured over boiled rice

Chikuwa  竹輪 - a tubular roll of boiled or grilled fish paste. Literally 'bamboo ring' from the method traditionally used to mold it

Chirashi-zushi  ちらし寿司 - sushi topped with fish, vegetables and egg

Choko - o-choko  猪口 - sake cup

Japanese food glossary and food terms


Daikon  大根 - giant white oriental radish.

Dango  団子 - dumpling, balls of mochi (pounded sticky rice) served on bamboo skewers.

Dashi  出汁 - fish and seaweed stock: a key ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Read more on dashi

Datemaki  伊達巻 - steamed fish-and-egg rolled cake

Dengaku  田楽 - miso over tofu or konnyaku; also known as misodengaku  味噌田楽

Dobujiru  どぶ汁 - a type of nabe made from ankoh (angler fish). (Usually expensive!)

Doburoku  どぶろく - sake in its earliest stage, characterized by cloudiness; nigorizake. Read more on doburoku

Donburi  丼 - dish of rice topped with egg and other ingredients


Ebi  海老 - prawn, shrimp

Edamame  枝豆 - green soy beans eaten as an appetizer or as a snack with beer

Ekiben  駅弁 - short for "Eki no bento" a bento lunch box bought at a station (eki) to be eaten on the train

Enokitake  エノキタケ, 榎茸 - long, thin, pale mushroom , Flammulina velutipes, often used in soups. Typically grows around the enoki tree


Fugu  フグ - a blowfish, pufferfish; a usually poisonous fish eaten as a delicacy in Japan. Read more on fugu

Funazushi  鮒寿司 - fermented raw fish

Furikake  ふりかけ - seasoning made of dried fish or vegetables, sprinkled over boiled rice

Futomaki  太巻き - thick-rolled sushi


Gari  がり - thin-sliced ginger, boiled then pickled in amazu, accompanying sushi

Genmai  玄米 - brown/unpolished rice

Ginnan  銀杏 - nuts of the gingko tree, often boiled and served as a snack; key ingredient of chawanmushi

Gobo  ゴボウ - burdock (root)

Gotchisosama  御馳走様 - formal salutation at the end of a meal, "That was a sumptuous meal!"

Gunkan-maki  軍艦巻 - seafood on rice, wrapped in laver; a kind of sushi

Gyoza  餃子 - Chinese dumplings, jiaozi


Hakumai  白米 - polished, white rice

Hakusai  白菜 - Chinese cabbage, napa cabbage

Hamo  鱧 - pike conger, pike eel; loved in Kyoto and considered a mild aphrodisiac

Happoshu  発泡酒 - lit. "sparkling spirits" or low-malt beer

Harumaki  春巻き - spring roll

Hashi  箸 - chopsticks; or, usually the honorific ohashi

Hijiki  ヒジキ - a variety of seaweed, usually sold dried

Hirame  ヒラメ, 平目 - halibut, flounder, Paralichthys olivaceus; prized in particular for its engawa fillets (the base of the dorsal and anal fins)

Hirugohan  昼食 - or chushoku lunch

Hiyamugi  冷麦 - thin, white noodles made from wheat flour

Hiyayakko  冷奴 - cold block of tofu with grated ginger and sliced onion garnish served with drizzle of soy sauce.

Hocho  包丁 - kitchen knife

Horenso  ホウレンソウ - spinach

Hoshigaki  干し柿 - dried persimmons

Hotategai  ほたて貝 - or Hotate - scallops


Ichiju-sansui  一汁三菜 - traditional meal of one soup and three okazu; the epitome of simplicity in classic Japanese cuisine

Ika  イカ - squid

Ikura  イクラ - salmon roe (from the Russian ikra)

Inago  イナゴ - locust, fried as a delicacy of rural Japan, but also found in Tokyo

Inarizushi  稲荷寿司 - sushi consisting of sumeshi wrapped in aburaage, often with a vegetable topping

Iriko  炒り子 - small dried fish, usually anchovy

Itadakimasu  いただきます - the traditional pre-meal salutation, lit. "I am about to receive."

Izakaya  居酒屋 - Japanese pub serving food and drink in an informal, often lively, atmosphere. Read more on izakaya


Jagabataa  じゃがバター - potato (jagaimo) boiled in its skin, halved or quartered and served with a dollop of butter .

Jagaimo  ジャガイモ - potato, spud

Jingisukan  ジンギスカン - BBQ mutton, a delicacy of Hokkaido. Read more on Hokkaido potatoes

Jubako  重箱 - tiered lacquered boxes, typically used to serve osechi ryori


Kabocha  南瓜 - pumpkin

Kabu  カブ, 蕪 - Japanese turnip

Kaibashira  貝柱 - adductor muscle in a shellfish, usually scallop, dried

Kaiseki ryori  懐石料理 - Japanese haute cuisine made up of many small courses. Read more on Kaiseki ryori

Kaitenzushi  回転寿司 - a system at Japanese sushi restaurants whereby ready-made sushi is presented on a conveyor belt; lit. "revolving sushi"

Kaki  カキ, 牡蛎, 牡蠣 - oyster

Kamaboko  蒲鉾 - fish cake, fish jelly, made from ground fish meat (surumi)

Kani  カニ - crab

Karaage  唐揚げ - floured and then deep fried, battered; similar to tempura

Katsudon  カツ丼 - bowl of rice topped with a sliced, deep-fried port cutlet

Katsuo  カツオ - bonito, skipjack tuna Katsuwonus pelamis

Katsuobushi  鰹節 - dried, fermented, smoked katsuo flakes

Kazunoko  数の子 - herring roe

Kimpira  金平 - an okazu comprising roots (typically renkon, gobo, carrot, etc.) shredded lengthwise and fried in sugar and soy sauce, sprinkled with sesame seeds, chili pepper, etc.

Kinoko  キノコ - mushroom

Kissaten  喫茶店 - a coffee shop, also serving light meals

Kitsune  きつね - soba or udon served with fried tofu

Kobe beef  神戸ビーフ - beef from the black Tajima-ushi breed of Wagyu cattle, raised using traditional methods; originally from Kobe

Kohaku kamaboko  紅白かまぼこ - red (pink) and white kamaboko

Koi  コイ, 鯉 - carp

Kohko  こうこ - pickled vegetables; or the honorific okoh-ko; konomono

Kombu  昆布 - kelp or sea tangle used as a basic ingredient for stock. See dashi.

Kombumaki  昆布巻き - fish, typically dried herring, rolled up in kombu and simmered in sweet and salty seasonings

Kome  米 - more commonly - o-kome - rice. Read more on Japanese rice.

Konbini  コンビニ - convenience stores - open 24/7 - sell just about everything as well as offering banking and postal services. Read more on konbini

Konnyaku  コンニャク - Devil's tongue/konjac plant; specifically, a brown, translucent gelatin made from its starch

Konomono  香の物 - pickled vegetables; kohko

Kosu  コース - course (of a meal)

Kujira  クジラ, 鯨 - whale (meat). Read more on eating whale in Japan

Kurikinton  栗きんとん - sweetened mixture of boiled mashed chestnuts, typically found in osechi ryori

Kuromame  黒豆 - cooked black beans

Kushiage  串揚げ - deep-fried and breadcrumbed food served on wooden skewers; literally "skewer fry"

Kyusu  急須 - Japanese ceramic teapot with a straight, rod-shaped, flared handle pointing out from the side. Buy Japanese kyusu teapots

Food glossary, raw soba noodles.

Japanese soba noodles ready to boil

Food glossary, Kumano Kodo nabe cuisine.

Japanese nabe



Mabodofu  麻婆豆腐 - spicy Chinese-style tofu and mince

Makizushi  巻きずし - sliced seaweed-rolled sushi; makimono

Mame  豆 - beans

Matsutake  松茸 - a rare mushroom prized for its aromatic flavor. Expensive!

Mazui  まずい - unpleasant tasting, unsavory, poorly cooked; opposite of oishii and umai

Meshi  飯 - typically male word for "rice" or " a meal"

Mikan  みかん - tangerine, satsuma orange

Mirin  味醂 - intensified, sweetened sake used in cooking

Miso  味噌 - fermented soybean paste ranging in color from yellow to brown; a staple of Japanese cuisine

Misoshiru  味噌汁 - miso soup, a necessary element of a typical Japanese meal, based on miso and also containing tofu, wakame, tamanegi, moyashi, etc.

Mitsuba  三つ葉 - Japanese chervil, used as a garnish

Mochi  餅 - or omochi, steamed rice pounded into a glutinous cake and used as a staple ingredient in a variety of dishes, including desserts.

Momo  桃 - peach

Mohningu  モーニング - or Mohningu setto (morning set) - set breakfast served in a kissaten until about 11am, consisting of toast, coffee, boiled egg and a small salad

Moyashi  モヤシ - sprout of soy or mung beans, a staple ingredient in miso shiru

Mushimono  蒸し物 - steamed dish


Nabe  鍋 - one-pot meal eaten in winter. Read more on nabe

Nama  生 - raw, also draft beer, as in nama biiru

Namasu  なます - vinegared dish

Nantaimori  男体盛り - eating food, typically sushi or sashimi, off a semi- or fully-naked male; the male version of nyotaimori

Nasu  なす - eggplant

Natto  納豆 - fermented soybeans, eaten with mustard and soy sauce

Negi  葱 - spring onion

Neta  ネタ - the fish topping on sushi

Nigirizushi  握り寿司 - sushi consisting of rice, often a garnish, and a fish topping (neta); the most typical kind of sushi.

Nigorizake  濁り酒 - cloudy sake; doburoku

Nikujaga  肉じゃが - potato and beef stew; lit. "meat-potato"

Nimono  煮物 - simmered in a soup stock

Ninniku  ニンニク - garlic

Nishikitamago  錦卵 - confectionery made from egg, featuring a white part made from the white and a yellow part made from the yolk

Nori  海苔 - laver, edible seaweed, in particular the paper-like dried product made from it

Nyotaimori  女体盛り - eating food, typically sushi or sashimi, off a semi- or fully-naked female; the female version of nantaimori


Ocha  お茶 - Japanese tea

Oden  おでん - vegetables, tofu and fish cake in a broth

Oishii  おいしい - delicious, great tasting umai; the opposite of mazui

Okanjo  お勘定 - the bill.

Okazu  おかず - side dish accompanying a rice dish, typically of fish, meat, vegetables or tofu.

Okonomiyaki  お好み焼き - "Japanese pizza" - an egg and chopped cabbage based pancake associated with Osaka; lit. "cooked as you like it"

Omakase  お任せ - leaving it up to the chef or waiter to decide on your dishes at a restaurant.

Onigiri  おにぎり - a sticky rice ball wrapped in nori, often containing a filling of fish or an umeboshi pickled plum

Onsentamago  温泉卵 - egg poached in its shell in natural hot spring water. (Read more on onsen hot springs in Japan.)

Oroshigane  おろし金 - grater

Osechi ryori  おせち料理 - meal of New Year delicacies, eaten at room temperature from jubako

Oshinko  お新香 - pickled vegetables, tsukemono

Oyatsu  おやつ - snack


Pan  パン - bread (from the Portuguese word)

Panko  パン粉 - breadcrumbs

Piiman  ピーマン - pepper, capsicum

Pongashi  ポン菓子 - lit. 'popped snacks' - roasted rice snacks. Read more on pongashi

Potetofurai  ポテトフライ - French fries/chips; more often just called poteto



Rakkyo  ラッキョウ - shallot, Chinese onion, Chinese scallion, typically pickled; Allium chinense

Ramen  ラーメン - Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a bone-and-vegetable stock and flavored with soy sauce (also known as chuka soba).

Ranchi  ランチ - lunch

Reba  レバー - liver, typically of chicken

Renkon  蓮根 - lotus root

Reshiito  レシート - cash register print-out receipt, less official than a ryoshusho

Ringo  リンゴ - apple

Ryoriya  料理屋 - Japanese restaurant

Ryoshusho  領収書 - receipt that is typically more "official" than a reshiito, needed for tax deductibility

Ryotei  料亭 - exclusive Japanese inn-style restaurant, popular with politicians


Sushi Japan food glossary

Saba   - mackerel

Sake   - Japanese rice wine: a clear drink made from fermented rice, 14-16% alcohol by volume, served either warm or cold. Usually referred to honorifically as o-sake. Read more on sake

Sakekasu  酒粕 - sake lees, often used as a pickling agent

Sando  サンド - sandwich; abbreviation of sandoicchi

Sashimi  刺身 - sliced raw fish

Satsumaimo  薩摩芋 - Japanese sweet potato

Satoimo  里芋 - taro

Senbei  煎餅 - rice cracker

Sencha  煎茶 - green tea made from dried, not powdered, tea leaves

Setto  セット - set meal

Shabu-shabu  しゃぶしゃぶ - a kind of nabe cuisine where thinly sliced beef and vegetables are cooked by the diner in simmering seasoned broth

Shari  しゃり - the rice part of a piece of sushi; cooked, vinegared sticky white rice

Shichimi togarashi   七味唐辛子 - lit. "seven-flavored chili pepper", a seasoning that is a mixture of seven different spices

Shijimi  シジミ - freshwater clam, basket clam

Shimahokke  シマホッケ - AKA Kitanohokke - Atka mackerel,

Shio  塩 - salt

Shirouo  シロウオ - small, transparent fish eaten alive; usually ice goby. Read more on shirouo

Shiso  シソ, 紫蘇 - perilla leaf, typically served with sashimi

Shiitake  椎茸 - shiitake mushroom, Chinese black mushroom

Shochu  焼酎 - distilled, clear alcoholic beverage made from ingredients such as barley, buckwheat, sweet potatoes and sugar. Read more on shochu

Shoga  生姜 - ginger

Shojinryori  精進料理 - Buddhist vegetarian cuisine associated with Kyoto

Shokuchudoku  食中毒 - food poisoning, most sensationally associated with fugu

Shokudo  食堂 - canteen, restaurant

Shokuyoku  食欲 - appetite

Shoyu  醤油 - soy sauce. Read more on shoyu

Soba  蕎麦 - Japanese buckwheat noodles (resembling spaghetti) served in a soy-flavored, or sometimes clear, broth made from dashi fish and seaweed stock. Read more on Japanese noodles

Subuta  酢豚 - Chinese-style sweet and sour pork

Sukiyaki  すき焼き - meat or tofu, with vegetables and other ingredients, simmered in an iron pot in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar and mirin.

Sumeshi  酢飯 - white rice cooked in seasonings such as vinegar, salt, and sugar; literally "vinegar rice." The stuffing for inarizushi.

Sunomono  酢の物 - vinegared dish, pickled dish

Suribachi & Surikogi  すり鉢, すりこぎ - (ceramic) mortar and (wooden) pestle.

Sushi  寿司 - bite-sized servings of shari, served cold, flavored with sweet rice vinegar and grated green horseradish, or wasabi, and garnished with strips of raw or cooked fish, other seafood, cooked egg or vegetables. See also chirashizushi and makizushi. Read more on sushi


Japan Food Glossary: Takoyaki and Osaka

Tai  鯛 - sea bream, an auspicious, celebratory fish in Japan

Tako  タコ - octopus

Takoyaki  タコ焼き - octopus balls in batter - an Osaka speciality

Takenoko  筍 - bamboo shoot

Tamago  卵, 玉子 - egg

Tamanegi  玉ねぎ - onion

Tazukuri  田作 - dried sardines cooked in sugar and soy sauce

Teishoku  定食 - a set meal served in restaurants, typically comprising rice, fish or meat, pickles and miso soup

Tempura  天ぷら - fish, prawns or vegetables deep fried in a non-greasy batter

Teriyaki  照り焼き - dishes cooked with a mixture of mirin/sugar, soy sauce and sake

Tofu  豆腐 - tofu, soybean curd

Togarashi  唐辛子 - hot chili

Tonkatsu  豚カツ - pork cutlet

Toro  トロ - a fatty cut of tuna used on sushi

Tsukemono  漬物 - pickled vegetables, oshinko

Tsumami  つまみ - or o-tsumami - hors d'oeuvre often served with drinks


Udon  うどん - wheat flour noodles, thick, white and chewy

Umai  うまい - delicious, oishii; the opposite of mazui

Umeboshi  梅干し - sour, pickled plum often eaten with rice.

Unagi  ウナギ - eel, promoted in Japan as imparting vigor

Uni  ウニ - sea urchin



Wakame  わかめ - a type of seaweed, usually found in miso soup. Read more on wakame

Waribashi  割りばし - disposable chopsticks. Read more on waribashi

Wasabi  わさび - green horseradish, often eaten with sushi.



Yakimono  焼き物 - grilled dishes (not to be confused with Japanese pottery, also known as yakimono)

Yakitori  焼き鳥 - chicken yakimono, i.e., charcoal-grilled chicken on skewers. Read more on yakitori

Yama-kujira  山鯨 - wild boar, inoshishi; lit. "mountain whale"

Yoshokuya  洋食屋 - western-style restaurants adapted to the Japanese taste.

Yuba  ユバ - soy milk skin

Yuzu  柚子 - lemon-like citrus fruit


Zabuton  座布団 - floor cushion, 'za' meaning 'sitting' and 'buton' being futon.

Zaru  ざる - bamboo basket/sieve

Zaru-soba  ざるそば - cold soba noodles served on a zaru

Zashiki  座敷 - floor-seating area in a restaurant or home

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