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Japan Travel Guide

Eating in Japan: Meals



The traditional Japanese breakfast differs fundamentally from the Western style one. A traditional Japanese breakfast consists basically of rice and miso soup. As many aspects of Japanese life style, also the breakfast culture has been Westernized heavily over the last 150 years. Western and Japanese breakfast styles are today more or less equally popular, with a large group of Japanese enjoying both styles.

Restaurants generally open for lunch around 11.30am and finish serving at 2pm. Try to avoid the rush hour from noon to 1pm, when most office workers eat. Lacklustre sandwiches are best passed over in favour of a full meal at a restaurant, all of which offer set menus (called teishoku), usually around ¥1000 for a couple of courses, plus a drink, and rarely topping ¥2000 per person.

Dinner, the main meal of the day, can be eaten as early as 6pm, with many places taking last orders around 9pm. The major cities are about the only option for late-night dining. In a traditional Japanese meal, you'll usually be served all your courses at the same time, but at more formal places, rice and soup are always served last. Heavy puddings are almost unheard of in traditional Japanese restaurants, and you are most likely to finish your meal with a piece of seasonal fruit, such as melon, orange, persimmon or nashi (a crisp type of pear), or an or ice cream (if it's green, it will be flavoured with matcha tea).

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