Breakfast in Japan   朝ごはん

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Rice, natto, miso soup, aji no hiraki (dried fish), omelette... a great example of a Japanese breakfast.

Miso soup, natto, tofu, and a raw egg (to mix with the rice), as well as some nori.

Pickled eggplant and cucumber form part of any great Japanese breakfast!

Morning nippon

Forget ramen, takoyaki, and udon! There's nothing better than a traditional Japanese breakfast to make you feel as if you're eating like a native.

Not only is the Japanese breakfast completely different from our own, it is reputed to be one of the healthiest in the world. Low in fat, it also provides carbohydrates, various vitamins and proteins, and varied - but not too refined - sugars to start the day.

It is usually served in a ryokan rather than western-style hotels. Today, the Japanese have mostly abandoned it at home in favour of cereal or toast during the week, while continuing to eat a traditional breakfast at the weekend when they have more time to prepare it.

Small dishes, big meal

Rice is the staple of the traditional Japanese breakfast, often topped with a raw egg and beaten with chopsticks before eating, so the egg cooks in the hot rice - this is called tamago kake gohan. Or sometimes it's topped with an onsen tamago, a poached egg cooked in a hot spring. Dried seaweed (nori), and/or natto can also be added.

As for protein, the Japanese happily eat a rolled omelet called dashi maki tamago, grilled salmon - yakijake, grilled smelt, shishamo, tiny boiled white fish called shirasu, and/or tofu.

Another stalwart of the Japanese breakfast are tsukemono, pickled vegetables, including cucumber, eggplant, plum, and daikon (white radish).

The meal also obeys the rules of kaiseki, in that that many different small dishes are served simutaneously. Dishes can be added or removed to taste.

Everything is, of course, washed down with cold or hot green tea, like most food in Japan!

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