Japan has no shortage of culinary delights and whether you’re looking for the latest Japanese food trends or some Western comfort meals, there’s something for everyone to fall in love with. However, one of the most difficult things to get accustomed to in Japan is the notoriously difficult breakfast options. While there is a Japanese tradition of having a full meal of rice, soup, salad and protein, many families in Japan have switched over to Western breakfast options such as cereal and toast because it’s a lot more convenient and faster to make. This has resulted in Japan having a huge range of breakfast options that can dazzle you and it can make you unsure what to even choose for breakfast.
So in this article, we’re going to cover a couple of breakfast options and locations to help you get off to a great start when you’re in Japan.
The Konbini Breakfast
Japanese convenience stores, also known as konbini, are fantastic options for breakfast, lunch and dinner! While it can seem strange getting a meal from a convenience store, you need to understand that Japan takes konbini food very seriously! In fact, if you do a quick YouTube search you’ll find hundreds of videos reviewing and praising Japanese convenience food because it’s just so good, easy and quick. Some konbini to consider include 7-Eleven, FamilyMart and Lawson, all of which are popular brands in Japan that offer their own selection of fantastic food choices.
So what do you actually want to buy from these stores?
Breakfast in Japan is typically split between Western and Japanese styles. For Western breakfast food, you’ll find things like yoghurts, fruit, pastries and also cereal. You can purchase these in larger boxes as you would in other parts of the world, or there might be single-serving size pots and boxes designed for breakfast. There’s usually also some kind of drinks area where you can make yourself a fresh coffee or tea. For Japanese style breakfast, you might see things like microwavable protein (fish is very popular), instant soups, vegetables and rice. You might also come across “onigiri” which are rice balls stuffed with fillings such as vegetables or meat. Many konbini even have seating areas where you can eat your food before you leave so you don’t need to carry it around.
In short, if you’re looking for a quick and easy breakfast, head over to your local convenience store (they’re all over Japan!) and simply pick what looks great to you. Konbini are open 24 hours a day so you’ll always have a quick and easy snack waiting for you to pick up for a cheap price.
Teishoku is a type of set meal in Japan that is served together on a single tray. It often includes a main dish of protein, a side dish of vegetables or egg, a bowl of soup and rice. It can also include certain common Japanese breakfasts, such as “tamago kake gohan” which is essentially a raw egg and soy sauce mixed into hot steaming rice. Teishoku is very affordable and can be bought at most chains in Japan such as YAYOI, Ootoya and Yoshinoya. These meals can easily be extended by adding additional protein, a larger bowl of rice or extra side dishes.
Teishoku can be fully Japanese-style, such as having mackerel for your protein, natto (fermented soybeans) as a side dish and miso soup. However, many places that offer a teishoku breakfast will also include options such as egg and ham instead of fish, or even a black coffee instead of miso soup.
Yoshoku is the word given to Japanese-adapted Western cuisines. You’ll see many options such as pastries, sandwiches and even toast offered at some Western places such as Doutor, Cafe Gusto and even hotel restaurants. Western breakfasts are still very Japanese-like, offering corn soup, coffee and varieties of bread or toast that are made to be dipped in the soup or eaten with a spread such as jam. Much like their Japanese counterparts, yoshoku set meals are also served on trays to make it easy for you to collect your order and everything from cutlery to coffee creamer is placed on it.
Yoshoku breakfasts are available everywhere and there are some unique spins on Westerns cuisine that you might find strange or unique. Either way, it’s a great way to see how Japan interprets Western breakfast foods and if you’re ever feeling homesick and want a proper Western breakfast, there are plenty of restaurants that specialise in things such as omelettes, french toast and even granola.