Wherever you are in Japan, it seems, you're never far from a great meal that's not only made with fresh ingredients, but is beautiful to look at. Here are some of the best food experiences in Japan.
For many, Japan and sushi go hand-in-hand. The signature dish of Tokyo – nigiri-sushi – is the style most popular around the world: those bite-sized slivers of seafood hand-pressed onto rice.
Spend a little coin at high-end restaurants or grab a cheaper option at a kaiten-sushi, where ready-made plates of sushi are sent around on a conveyor belt.
Ramen originated in China, but its popularity in Japan is epic. If a town has only one restaurant, odds are it's a ramen shop.
Your basic ramen is a big bowl of crinkly egg noodles in broth, served with toppings such as chāshū (sliced roast pork), moyashi (bean sprouts) and menma (fermented bamboo shoots).
Japan's top ramen pilgrimage sites are Fukuoka, where the speciality is tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen, and Sapporo, where the specialty is miso ramen.
Shōjin-ryōri is a Japanese Buddhist vegetarian cuisine, which specifies no meat, fish, onions or garlic be used; instead you'll be served tofu prepared in more ways than you've imagined possible.
Try it in Kōya-san, at one of the mountain monastery's many shukubō (temple lodgings).
It’s a never-ending feast for the eyes and the stomach at a Japanese street market. Day or night, there’s always something to buy or eat.
Go for sushi or kaisen-don (raw fish served on a bowl or rice) at one of Japan's famous fish markets, like Tokyo's Toyosu Market or Hokkaidō's Hakodate Morning Market.
Head to Osaka’s Wanaka Honten to sample local specialties like tako-yaki (grilled octopus dumplings) or tako-sen – two dumplings sandwiched between sembei (rice crackers).
Want to learn more about ingredients, etiquette and customs for dining in Japan? Check out Lonely Planet's new book Eat Japan.