For over 2000 years, rice has been the most important food in Japanese cuisine. Despite changes in eating patterns over the last few decades and slowly decreasing rice consumption in recent years, rice remains one of the most important ingredients in Japan today.
Noodle dishes are very popular in Japan, and are served both hot and cold depending on the season. Nabe, or hot pot dishes, are prepared in a hot pot, usually at the table. Typical ingredients are vegetables such as negi (Japanese leek) and hakusai (Chinese cabbage), various mushrooms, seafood and/or meat. Meat has been eaten in Japan in larger amounts only since the second half of the 19th century. Tofu, natto, miso and many other important ingredients of Japanese cooking are made of soybeans.
Some of Japanese dishes that are well known outside the country are sushi, sashimi, tempura, and buckwheat noodles (soba).
A large number of Western dishes have been introduced to Japan over the centuries. Many of them have become completely Japanized, and are referred to as Yoshoku dishes.