We hear so much about all the incredible favorites of eating in Japan. Whether that’s sushi, ramen or beautiful Japanese fish.
What you might not know so much about is the crazy, alternative Japanese food on offer throughout Japan.
From street corners to vending machines, here is the side of Japanese cuisine you don’t hear about but which is genuinely amazing.
Have a look through some of these amazing alternative Japanese foods and I guarantee you’ll want to try them!
Japanese Convenience Store Food
You may think I am mad but honestly you cannot go to Japan without visiting one of their many convenience stores.
For all those Westerners out there a convenience store is just that, a convenient pit stop to pick up an unhealthy snack.
Rest assured this is not the case in Japan. On some of my more busy travel days I found myself stopping into a Family Mart three times a day!
While the selection of weird and wacky food items is reason enough to visit these stores, they have a great selection of assorted “ready to go” meals.
Ranging from traditional Japanese to sandwiches, salads, soup, curry and pasta, just to name a few!
You can easily have a full dining experience consisting of entree, main, dessert and even a bottle of wine to match, the quality is fantastic.
Ahh the Japanese, bless their theatrical hearts, even the simple task of eating a meal isn’t without a bit of fun!
There are many themes to choose from, Alice in Wonderland, Vampires, Prison Hospitals, Cat Cafe’s, Sumo’s, Samurai’s and so on. I would suggest one that suits your audience best!
While you wouldn’t want to dine in too many of these themed style restaurants, this is a must see and do, at least once whilst in Japan.
I visited the Kawaii Monster Cafe in Harajuku and just like the area itself it certainly didn’t disappoint. Every section of the restaurant was decorated in some crazy colourful way.
The menu was just as fun, with blue ketchup, rainbow spaghetti, monster burgers and chemistry drinks that change colour while you drink, plus a functioning merry-go-round to complete the picture.
The best way I can describe it is a gang of Furbys threw up rainbow toys and someone decided to build a restaurant around them. It goes without saying it’s very well suited to children.
Japanese Vending Machines
Just as readily available as a Family Mart, the ever popular vending machines can be found basically everywhere!
Whilst many restaurants have a self-serve vending style ordering system in place the most fun way is to try a street vending machine.
Simply looking at what you can get out of a machine is novelty enough.
From cans of hot corn soup, iced cream, fresh fruit, Ramen, there is something for everyone and when you do finally pick something I guarantee you will be happy with the quality.
Japan, you’ve done it again!
Western Cuisine in Japan
We all know Japan has some of the worlds most notable dishes like sushi, miso, tempura… the list goes on. It can be incredibly overwhelming (in a good way) to even attempt to try all the delicacies the country has to offer.
However, when you start to feel a wee bit homesick for your favorite pizza, burger or even tapas, I highly encourage you to give them a go here.
One cold, drizzly night in Shibuya I was in need of some comfort food, which for me happens to be Italian.
I found a great little restaurant, picked my usual favorites and my goodness it was beyond amazing, on par with the quality of food I have had in Italy, you could have sworn Nona was in the kitchen making that pasta.
It was so good I went back the next day for lunch. There is something special about a country as foreign as Japan that can replicate flavor and technique to completely nail a dish like homemade pasta.
The quality of produce combined with the culinary skills of a Japanese chef, ensures every meal is one to remember.
Of course, if you’re looking for authentic Japanese food that won’t be hard to find, which is why we thought we’d highlight the more obscure and interesting foods to try. If you’re feeling adventurous you can even try the Japanese fermented squid delicacy, try making this Narutomaki recipe or check out the to-die-for oysters on Miyajima island.