Traditional Japanese Breakfast with Simple Everyday Options

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A Traditional Japanese Breakfast is a healthy way to start the day. Enjoy warm rice, comforting miso soup, and a variety of side dishes—it’s a delightful treat! Ready to learn how to prepare it? Let’s dive in!

Looking for traditional Japanese recipes? Try my Agedashi Tofu, Kake Soba, and Chirashi Sushi!

Traditional Japanese breakfast.

First, I’ll guide you through preparing a traditional Japanese breakfast; then, we’ll explore some everyday options. I hope you enjoy it!

What is Traditional Japanese Breakfast?

A traditional Japanese breakfast is a balanced meal with steamed white rice, miso soup, a main dish like grilled fish or an egg dish, and various small side dishes. This breakfast follows the “ichijyu sansai” principle of rice, soup, and three main and side dishes, using seasonal ingredients to create a variety of flavors and textures.

Common Components of a Traditional Japanese Breakfast

Traditional Japanese breakfast.
  • Rice: Steamed rice is a staple of Japanese breakfast, complementing the other flavorful dishes. Japanese short-grain rice is sticky and filling, providing energy to stay active throughout the day.
  • Soup: Miso soup is an essential breakfast dish in Japan. It is made from dashi and miso paste and often includes ingredients like tofu, seaweed, and green onions. Light yet rich in umami, it warms your body throughout, making it the perfect start to your day.
  • Main Dishes: Grilled fish is a staple for the main dish, providing a protein source. Common choices include salmon, mackerel, or horse mackerel, usually seasoned with salt. Another option is an egg dish, such as tamagoyaki (a Japanese rolled omelet), fried egg, or boiled egg.
  • Side Dishes: Alongside the main dish, various side dishes add flavors to the meal. Popular choices include goma-ae (spinach sesame salad), kinpira gobo (stir-fried burdock root), and hijiki nimono (simmered hijiki seaweed).

How To Make Traditional Japanese Breakfast: STEP BY STEP 

Here are a sample of traditional Japanese breakfast dishes. Japanese breakfast is a collection of individual recipes, so please look at the linked recipe below for the recipe instructions. Also, Click the link to watch our cooking show featuring Japanese breakfast!

How to prepare traditional Japanese breakfast.

Rice

Prepare Japanese steamed rice.

How to prepare traditional Japanese breakfast.

Soup

Prepare a wakame miso soup.

How to prepare traditional Japanese breakfast.

Main

Prepare grilled salmon and tamagoyaki.

How to prepare traditional Japanese breakfast.

Sides

Prepare nukazuke, goma-ae, and hiyayakko.

If you don’t have time to cook in the morning, you can prepare breakfast the day before. To save time, use frozen rice and leftovers from the previous day’s side dishes.

How To Serve Traditional Japanese Breakfast

Traditional Japanese breakfast.

Once you finish preparing each dish, place them on a serving tray to create a Japanese-style atmosphere. Follow the traditional layout as follows:

  • Rice and Miso soup: Place the rice on the left and the soup on the right. In Japan, important items have long been placed on the left side, so the staple food, rice, is always placed on the left.
  • Main and Sides: The basic positioning of the main and side dishes is to place a side dish in the back left and the main dish in the back right. (While you don’t need to be too strict with this arrangement, you can aim to arrange them to make it easy to eat.)
  • Chopsticks: Place the chopsticks horizontally in front of you with the part to hold on the right side.
  • Tea: When serving tea, place it on the right side.
  • Grilled Fish: For the grilled fish, place the fish fillet with the skin facing up and the wider side on the left.

Easy Japanese Breakfasts for Everyday

If you prefer a more straightforward and quicker breakfast, here are some suggestions! These are the actual menus we enjoy for breakfast every day.

Natto Gohan

Natto gohan served on a bowl.

Natto gohan is a staple dish in Japanese breakfasts. Known for its unique flavor and stringy texture, natto is a nutritious breakfast option. To complete the meal, I suggest pairing it with warm tofu miso soup and pickled cucumbers.

Ochazuke

Umeboshi ochazuke breakfast set.

Ochazuke is a quick yet comforting dish made by pouring hot green tea over cooked rice and topping it with savory ingredients like salted salmon, pickled plums (umeboshi), or seaweed. The photo above shows umeboshi ochazuke, steamed kabocha, nukazuke, nimame, and spinach goma-ae.

Onigiri

Onigiri breakfast set.

Onigiri is an easy and quick Japanese breakfast option. You can customize your rice balls with various fillings. For a wholesome meal, serve them with miso soup, tamagoyaki, and salads.

Other Options

  • Furikake is a dry seasoning mix that can include sesame seeds, seaweed, dried fish, and more. It’s an easy way to add a burst of flavor to plain rice.
  • Nori Sheets are a common accompaniment, adding a slightly salty and umami-rich taste. Nori can be used to wrap small bites of rice or eaten on its own.
  • Tamago Kake Gohan (Raw egg over rice) is a simple and quick breakfast made by mixing a raw egg with hot rice seasoned with soy sauce.

Your Questions Answered

How do I cook rice properly for a Japanese breakfast?

Use Japanese short-grain rice for an authentic flavor. Soaking the rice thoroughly before cooking makes it fluffy and delicious. Find more on how to cook Japanese rice on the stove.

What are traditional side dishes for a Japanese breakfast?

Japanese side dishes come in many variations. Here are a few examples: tsukemono (pickled vegetables), hiyayakko (chilled tofu), and kinpira (stir-fried vegetables).

Are there any vegetarian options for a traditional Japanese breakfast?

Side dishes are typically vegetarian; for the main dish, you can opt for tofu dishes like agedashi tofu. Additionally, you can choose vegetarian options with wakame using kombu dashi for miso soup.

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Traditional Japanese breakfast.

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Traditional Japanese breakfast.

Traditional Japanese Breakfast with Simple Everyday Options

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Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Juri Austin
A Traditional Japanese Breakfast is a healthy way to start the day. Enjoy warm rice, comforting miso soup, and a variety of side dishes—it's a delightful treat! Ready to learn how to prepare it? Let's dive in!

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Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: traditional Japanese breakfast
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