Japanese Food Glossary

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

Ankake あんかけ - thick, sticky, Chinese-style sauce used in noodle dishes and the signature "Ankake spaghetti" in Nagoya

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
Yakitori: Festival Food © Joel Hadley Jr
Japanese food glossary and food terms
Sausages: Festival Food © Joel Hadley Jr


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 Read more on ekiben

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

Hayashi Rice ハヤシライス - western-style Japanese comfort food similar to beef stew with onions and mushrooms

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

Himono 干物 - lit. "dried things" - a word used to describe dried fish

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

Kakigori かき氷 - shaved ice dessert, associated with Japan's steaming summers, served with syrup and condensed milk. Some popular flavors are cherry, grape, green tea, lemon and strawberry

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

Karei カレイ - flounder, often eaten deep fried

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

Kusaya くさや - dried, salted and fermented fish known for its bad smell but mild taste

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

Mekabu メカブ - whereas wakame is the leafy part of this seaweed, mekabu is the part above the root system. It is chewy, healthy and nutritious

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. Read more on natto

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

Sengiri kyabetsu 千切りキャベツ - chopped cabbage - which almost rivals sushi as Japan's national food as it is served with a variety of meals

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

Takana 高菜 /タカナ - mustard leaf, bitter and spicy in taste

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"

Yoshoku 洋食 - western-style Japanese food now being re-exported to the west

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

Japanese food glossary and food terms

Japanese Glossary
Japanese Acronyms & Abbreviations
Kawaii Glossary
Korean Glossary

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