4 Odd Japanese Foods You Must Try if You’re Daring 

Japan is divided into unique geographical regions. Each region having developed its own distinct culinary customs. Every dish offers a diverse collection of regional foods every place in Japan. Traditional Japanese cuisine combines staple foods that are usually available in the region. A typical Japanese meal is usually white rice with one or more side dishes and main dishes, sometimes served with miso soup and pickles. The side dishes almost always compliment the main dishes and vise versa. Some of the components that create a dish are one of a kind and are only found in Japan.

Check out some of the must try distinctive foods found only in “The Land of the Rising Sun”!

Nattō

Nattō is a traditional Japanese food that’s made from fermented soybeans and is well known for its nutritunal qualities.

Nattō. | Igno2

It’s usually served with soy sauce, Japanese mustard (karashi), and spring onions. Nattō is a lot of times considered to be an acquired taste because of its pungent aroma, intense flavor, and its slimy and sticky consistency. Nattō is most popular in the eastern regions of Japan.

Himono

Japan is an island nation known to have fish as an abundant staple food in the Japanese diet for hundreds of years. Japanese nobility since the Heian period (794 to 1185), are known to have had fish and vegetables as their typical meal. Himono, a type of dried fish, is documented to have been a part of banquet setting at the time.

The innards of the fish were removed, and the flesh was then salted and dried under the sun to make the fish keep longer.

Himono drying out in the sun, Japan. | Jin Kemoole

The fish would be grilled over a hot flame before being served. Nowadays, himono is still very much a Japanese staple and is often served at breakfast with steamed rice and nattō.

Goya

Goya or “bitter melon” or “bitter gourd” may look a tad intimidating to eat at first glance. The bumpy, cucumber-shaped vegetable found in most Japanese supermarkets is known to be a super food with its blood purifying and detoxifying qualities. Goya has a very distinct bitter taste but if you prepare it right, it won’t be such a bitter pill to swallow.

Funazushi 

Funazushi is one of the oldest forms of sushi in Japan. Funazushi is a type of fermented carp, nigorobuna, found only in Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture. It takes about a year to as long as three years to ferment. Funazushi is considered a luxury with well-aged fish going for a hefty sum.

Nigorobuna is packed in salt and left to ferment in wooden barrels. After about a year, the fish is then mixed with rice then packed away again for another two to three years to further ferment. The resulting taste is close to tangy cheese.

Funazishi, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. | tokyofoodcast.com