12 Delicious Reasons to Move to Japan

Today we share a guest post from Nobeoka ALT Makaya. You can read the original post in her and her husband Jon’s blog, Moore Gaijin, here.

Japanese food is crazy good. And here in Miyazaki, famous for its progressive culinary scene, we eat like kings and queens. We have had the pleasure of enjoying the local flavors along with some good ol’ traditional dishes. This is also why we have joined the local gym… (eeek)! Here is a list of our favorites. We have also included some recipe links to the ones we like to make at home. Itadakimasu!

1. Oyakudon

courtesy of noshon

Literally “parent and child over rice.” Appetizing, right? We think so. This protein-packed dish is super easy to make and all of the ingredients are easily available at any grocery store.

2. Gyudon

courtesy of fromthelycheetree

Here’s another rice bowl for the win and Jon’s favorite. Instead of chicken and eggs, gyudon is topped with thinly sliced beef that is marinated in the most delicious sauce ever. There’s a fast food chain called Sukiya that makes it super easy to get yummy warm bowls of gyudon for fast and cheap. Kaya was super skeptical about fast food gyudon at first, reasonably so, but she fell in love at first bite. (And Japanese fast food is so much better than American fast food. It’s hard to even put it in the same category.) We have yet to make this for ourselves, but we will soon!

3. Masumoto spicy ramen


Our fellow JETs featured on the Explore Nobeoka website nobekan.jp

Combine full cloves of garlic, buckwheat noodles, spicy pepper flakes, green onions and egg in a bowl of body-warming broth and you’ve got yourself Masumoto’s famous spicy ramen. This is Kaya’s favorite. Masumoto originated right here in Nobeoka and has now grown a cult-like following. And we are happy to join. We both choose to omit the ground pork, making this a very healthy option and one that we could never try to make at home. It is just TOO PERFECT. So unless you find yourself in Nobeoka or the surrounding area, we are so sorry.

4. Jidori chicken

courtesy of Miyazaki-tourism.co.jp

This is like the body-builder of all organic chicken. The chicken is literally jacked. Jidori chicken is a type of breed that is raised to become more muscular than any other bird and when prepared right, it is also the most delicious. But we do warn you: you might want to do some jaw exercises beforehand. It’s very chewy!

5. Curry rice

courtesy of drewpan

This dish is equivalent to the American sandwich. Easy, healthy and cheap, curry rice is a common lunch meal. And yet, it is still so tasty. We make a large pot of curry rice at least once a week and take the leftovers for lunch. Serious Eats gives a wonderful detailed explanation of this staple food. Just click the link!

6. Okonomiyaki

courtesy of blueapocolypse.com

This savory pancake comes in infinite variations. Several regions of Japan specialize in their own version and many Japanese people are very serious about their preferred style. So far, we enjoy Osaka-style okonomiyaki the best and frequently visit a tiny restaurant in Hyuga (30 min south of Nobeoka) to get it from a man who has been making the dish for longer than we have been alive.

7. Temaki sushi

courtesy of japanstyle.com

Usually our go-to dinner on Tuesday nights before Eikaiwa, temaki (handroll) sushi is super fast, fun and filling. We love making our own rolls with our chosen ingredients since we both prefer different things. Temaki is also a blast for parties! Just lay out all the ingredients and let everyone make their own rolls! SO FUN!

8. Oden

courtesy of sushiandsake.net

Oden is simply slow-boiled veggies, eggs and various meats in a soy sauce mixture. The result is mildly flavored, hot, bite-sized goodies to warm your body on cold days.  We can find oden pots conveniently located at the cash register at convenient stores like 7 Eleven or on the bar at local restaurants.

9. Pickled daikon 

Courtesy of justonecookbook.com

Pickled veggies, or tsukemono, are a popular side dish to accompany any Japanese meal. We didn’t really get into pickled daikon until we went to Korea where it was almost as common as kimchi. Kaya actually sat and ate three bowls of this stuff in one sitting! Now, we make it at home and it is REALLY easy but REALLY stinky. But, so worth it.

10. Miso soup

Photo by Judy Holtz

Miso soup is so common; it is eaten with every meal, including breakfast. While still in the States, Kaya made this soup frequently and even wrote an article about it! Now in Japan, it impresses all of the locals when they learn that we make it at home!

11. Somen

courtesy of kiwicrate.com

Somen is one of the most simple meals ever. It is a cold-noodle dish and typically eaten during the warm-weather months. Consisting of only a few ingredients and minor preparation, somen is another one of our quick meals.

12. Udon

courtesy of alljapantours.com

Another one of Jon’s favorites, this is one of the most popular Japanese noodle dishes. Udon noodles are thick wheat noodles and served in either hot or cold broth with various toppings. Like many other traditional dishes, Udon varies from region to region with many different flavors, toppings and ingredients.

This is only just touching the surface of Japanese cuisine but these seem to be our personal favorites. We are so thankful for the means that enable us to eat these delicious meals and the many friends we enjoy them with, Japanese food has taught us so much about the culture, more than words ever could.