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What’s for Lunch? A Japanese School Meal from 1952 (Japan in Photos)

A typical Japanese school lunch from 1952 represented by replica food on display at the School Lunch Historical Museum in Kitamoto, Saitama Prefecture. The meal consists of a bun with jam, fried whale with cabbage, and skimmed milk made from powder. (© Jiji)
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A Savory Journey: Transforming Plums into “Umeboshi” (Photos)

Wakayama grows more ume plums than any other prefecture in Japan. We traveled there to visit umeboshi maker Shōkibai and some ume growers in the town of Minabe for a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how the fruit is made into pickled plums.
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Premium Versions of Standard Sweets Popular in Japan (News)

Tokyo, Oct. 5 (Jiji Press)—Premium versions of ever-popular sweets from major confectionery makers have been drawing keen attention in Japan. Ezaki Glico's Batôn d'Or, a premium version of its popular Pocky chocolate-dipped biscuits, on display in Ōsaka on September 27. (© Jiji) Such upgraded products, made with specially selected ingredients, are sold at limited locations including departm…
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“Umeboshi”: The Health Secrets of Japan’s Sourest Fruity Treat

Highly salted pickled plums, or umeboshi, have been a beloved part of the Japanese diet for centuries, prized for their preservative qualities and health benefits as well as their distinctive mouth-puckering sourness and salty tang. The assertive mixture of salt and sour make them a hard taste for some to acquire, though. Younger Japanese today are also eating far fewer umeboshi than previous generations did. However, proponents are fighting back, arguing that the combination of health benefits and unique flavor make the humble umeboshi the ideal superfood for the twenty-first century.
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Thinking Out of the Box: French Retailer Selling “Bentō” Goods to Global Fans

Photographs posted on sites like Instagram and Facebook have greatly raised the profile of Japanese bentō lunches, inspiring admiration and imitation around the world. Thomas Bertrand, originally of France and now based in Kyoto, started an online service in 2008 that supplies lunchboxes to help international fans enjoy bentō culture.
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Ajinomoto to Open “Gyōza” Restaurant Mainly for Foreign Tourists (News)

Tokyo, Sept. 4 (Jiji Press)--Ajinomoto Frozen Foods Co. on Monday unveiled to the media a gyōza pot sticker restaurant set to open in Tokyo's posh Akasaka district on Thursday, hoping to get more visitors to Japan to enjoy the popular food. The menu at the restaurant, "Gyoza It," run by the unit of food and seasoning maker Ajinomoto Co., will includes four types of gyōza cooked on a five-meter-…
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Rice Cooker Pancakes: A Culinary AdventureNippon.com Staff

The first automatic rice cooker, or suihanki, debuted in Japan back in 1955. Since then, these revolutionary appliances have evolved to crank out an ever-more-perfect bowl of piping hot gohan. Understandably, developers have given precedence to Japan’s glutinous, white staple. Curiosity being what it is, though, a small band of gastronomic buccaneers have succeeded in showing the world that there …
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French Sommeliers Taste Sake in Paris Contest (News)

Paris, June 26 (Jiji Press)—Thirty-five professionals in the French restaurant industry, including top-flight sommeliers, gathered in Paris on Monday to taste sake from Japan. The Kura Master contest was designed to choose Japanese sake brands suitable for the French market from among 550 entries. The contest took place for the first time in France, its organizer said. The results of the compet…
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“Nattō” Manufacturers Target Foreign Palates with Reduced Smell and Stickiness

The fermented soybean food nattō is divisive even in its homeland of Japan, due to its powerful smell and viscous texture. These qualities have also proved a barrier to export, despite recognition of the food’s health benefits. Now manufacturers in Ibaraki Prefecture are pushing a new form of nattō to foreign consumers, developed to reduce the effect of its more off-putting features.
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A Cultural History of Noodle SlurpingMotohashi Takashi

Why is it that the Japanese, who generally frown on noisy eating, consider it proper and even preferable to suck up one’s noodles with a loud slurping sound? Food writer and soba aficionado Motohashi Takashi probes the origins of this fascinating and occasionally controversial custom with the help of Horii Yoshinori, proprietor of one of Tokyo’s oldest soba shops.
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