Updated: May 20, 2020
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What Do Japanese People Eat For Breakfast?


Ever wondered what Japanese people have for breakfast? Take a look to see what the Japanese eat for breakfast and it'll give you an insight into why they have such a healthy lifestyle! Also, we'll tell you where to grab the best breakfasts around Tokyo.

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What is a typical Japanese breakfast?

With the influence of foreign cuisine, there isn't really a 'typical Japanese breakfast' anymore, but rather a variety of breakfast options and dietary habits.

According to the above 2015 online survey, 42.3% of Japanese people still prefer some kind of traditional rice-based meal for breakfast. On the other hand, 24,5% have answered that they have bread, 6.9% cereal, 5.4% confectionary bread; all foods that come essentially from western culture.

The 14% bar at the bottom of the chart represents the people who skip breakfast altogether. School-age children almost always eat breakfast but busy office workers tend to skip it in high numbers.

These are just stats so to get a better idea of how they translate to in actual meals, see the examples below.

Fish, natto, rice & miso soup

This is perhaps the quintessential traditional Japanese breakfast. It fits into the rice-based category, and it typically includes a variety of healthy, savoury side dishes.

What Japanese call breakfast here would be considered more like lunch for Westerners. The typical servings include miso soup, fermented soybeans (natto), grilled fish, some pickled vegetables and a small salad. Although many foreigners would rather skip the natto, it's a well-balanced and healthy meal!

As you can imagine, making it necessitates quite a bit of preparation, so some people make a simplified version of this with just one or two side dishes.


Onigiri, or rice balls wrapped in nori seaweed, are also a simple rice-based breakfast. These can be made at home or bought virtually everywhere at convenience stores, supermarkets, onigiri-specialized shops, conveniently located in and around stations. Usually, they have a piece of fish in the centre. They're tasty, super easy to grab on the go and are usually around ¥100-¥300.


Another typical breakfast in Japan is thick pieces of toast. With a clear Western influence, the Japanese have put a spin on the classic breakfast and often serves it in an old-style Japanese cafe with a hand-drip cup of coffee and some red bean paste. It's quite tasty, you should give it a go too!


Although the typical cereal alley in Japan is nowhere near as big as one found at an average US supermarket, about one in twenty people do have them for breakfast. The Japanese tend to prefer the granola type cereals, and they tend to be less sweet and more crunchy than cereals from overseas.

Confectionary bread

These are kinds of sweet bread found at bakeries, supermarkets and convenience stores that are also fairly popular for breakfast. Brought to Japan from the west, the Japanese have adapted and reinvented them to their taste. The best example is the popular 'anpan', which is a small sweet round bread filled with sweet adzuki bean paste. Another well-known Japanese confectionary bread is the 'melon pan' which has a cookie-like crust that resembles the skin of a melon and a bread-like soft interior.

Nothing... then a quick gyudon

This wasn't listed as top choices on the survey but a lot of people on the run will simply not eat anything at home and catch a bowl of gyudon (beef and onions over rice) later on. They're cheap, filling, quick and readily available. Perfect for the salarymen caught up in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. A regular size of gyudon is less than ¥500 and is about 700 calories. So it's a good bang for your buck.
Lili Wanderlust
I love travelling and discovering new cuisines. Japan has a panoply of local dishes to try. I also love yoga, coffee, reading, and cycling.

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