8 Culinary Treasures of Japan

Sponsored by Princess Cruises

Japan is a unique destination that cannot be missed! From the grand nature to the vibrant and cultural cities, Japan has something to offer and seeing it on a cruise with Princess lets you see multiple cities and experience more of this island nation’s great diversity.

Plus, Japan is a world-class culinary destination, and there are a number of meals that are worth the trip alone. If you’re both excited to try new foods and wary of what’s available, rest assured  you can sample authentic local dishes right on board your Princess ship, and the cruise lines port experts can also guide you to the best local markets and restaurant ashore.

From classic sushi to more obscure dishes, these are the top 8 must try foods in Japan to expand your palate!


Sushi may not be an exotic food anymore, but the sushi found in Japan is incomparable to the mass-market kind found elsewhere! What started as a simple street food is now the main export of Japanese cuisine, and one can find delicious sushi everywhere from tiny restaurants to outside morning markets.

In a traditional restaurant, one sits right in front of the master chef for an intimate experience. These chefs have spent years or even decades perfecting their culinary art. They will mold the rice perfectly while keeping its soft consistency, and they will add the freshest fish carefully to make every part of the multi-course meal a pleasure. And if that isn’t enough, you can also enjoy sushi and sashimi onboard your Princess ship at the Kai Sushi specialty restaurant


Unagi is a love-it or hate-it type of dish, but it’s worth trying at least once while in Japan! This dish can be found in ancient Japanese folklore, and it’s said to have magical healing powers. The meal itself is simple: charcoal-grilled river eel topped with a hickory sauce, but it’s still the source of legend even today. It might be an acquired taste, but it’s a taste that’s entirely Japanese!

Bento Box

Bento Boxes are essentially Japan’s form of takeout cuisine, but it’s such a cultural staple that you simply can’t miss it while on vacation! In each box, there’s likely rice, grilled meat, plus some vegetables and maybe a small dessert.

The fun comes in how each place packs their boxes: some restaurants opt for high-end boxes while others make them as cute and colorful as possible. For a quick cultural bite, one can’t go wrong with a Bento Box to-go!

Fresh Produce at Local Markets

Japan is known for its wonderful and varied morning markets, and whether in Tokyo or Takayama, everyone should experience what it’s all about! At the Takayama morning market, there are wonderful fresh and locally produced vegetables, fruits, and many varieties of fish. Some markets also have street vendors where the food is cooked to order.


Similar to the micro-cuisine that’s all the rage these days, kaiseki is Japan’s ancient tradition of bringing out small and decorative meals for a beautiful dinner event! Each meal is carefully made with fresh ingredients, often fish and vegetables, and is brought out in the form of flowers, peacocks, or other seasonal designs on a small plate. Kaiseki can take over an hour to enjoy, but guests are guaranteed to be full by the end of the memorable presentation!


Shabu-Shabu is an extremely delicious meal that’s also a fun event! At a shabu-shabu restaurant, guests will be provided with extremely thin slices of pork or beef. Then, each guest can quickly swirl the meat around in a broiling broth at the table before eating the juicy slice.

With large assortments of high-quality meat, shabu-shabu is a must-try meal that looks as good as it tastes! To do it like the Japanese, one should try mixing the food with chopsticks instead of tourist-friendly metal prongs!


Tempura features vegetables, fish, and other items that are dipped in a light egg batter and quickly fried. This gives the final meal a delicate crispiness and oily flavor without being too heavy. While tempura is growing in popularity outside of Japan, having it at a specialty restaurant comes with perks like different types of batter, oils, and locally sourced ingredients.


The ramen in Japan is hearty, comforting, and entirely unique! Enjoy freshly made noodles in a light chicken or meat broth along with an assortment of large vegetables. The soup is fairly salty, but each place will have their own unique style which makes it a great meal to try more than once! Plus, it’s great as an appetizer or even as an entire meal. You’ll also find an array of noodle dishes on board all day at the Horizon Court buffet.

With so many varieties, everyone will find something they love whether it’s a new type of sushi roll or an ancient recipe. Vegetarians and vegans will also find numerous accommodating dishes with a Japanese touch. From delicious snacks to artful cuisine, Japan is one of the world’s most interesting culinary destinations!