Things That Are Japanese 🇯🇵 🍜

Welcome to our list of things that are Japanese!

In our list we’ve included as many categories of things we could think of as possible! We hope we’ve covered what you’re after in our list of things that are Japanese.

Here’s a visual list of things that are Japanese:

Hopefully that visual list of Japanese things was useful! If you’re interested in learning more about Japan and Japanese culture, here’s a longer and more informative list of things that are Japanese, separated into handy categories:


This list only scratches the surface, but it gives a good overview of the diverse culinary offerings of Japan!

  • Sushi: Vinegared rice combined with various toppings or fillings.
  • Nigiri: Hand-pressed sushi with a piece of seafood, like tuna or prawn, on top.
  • Maki: Rolled sushi enveloped in seaweed, with fillings like cucumber or salmon.
  • Uramaki: A sushi roll where the rice is on the outside, often featuring fillings like avocado and tuna.
  • Temaki: Hand-rolled cone-shaped sushi filled with rice and other ingredients.
  • Chirashi: A bowl of sushi rice topped with assorted sashimi.
  • Sashimi: Fresh, thinly-sliced raw fish or meat, often served with soy sauce and wasabi. Celebrated for its fresh taste and delicate texture.
  • Tempura: Foods, often seafood or vegetables, that are coated in a light batter and deep-fried. It’s known for its crispy texture.
  • Ramen: A noodle soup that comes in various flavors, including miso and soy sauce. It’s often topped with sliced pork, green onions, and sometimes corn or butter.
  • Udon: Thick wheat noodles usually served in a savory broth, with toppings like tempura, tofu, or green onions.
  • Soba: Buckwheat noodles that can be served cold with a dipping sauce or in a hot broth.
  • Takoyaki: Ball-shaped snacks filled with minced octopus and topped with takoyaki sauce, mayonnaise, and bonito flakes.
  • Okonomiyaki: A savory pancake made from a batter of flour, grated yam, eggs, shredded cabbage, and various meat or seafood. It’s often topped with sauces and mayonnaise.
  • Onigiri: Triangular-shaped rice balls, often filled with ingredients like salmon or pickled plum and wrapped in seaweed.
  • Miso Soup: A traditional soup made from miso paste and dashi broth. It usually contains tofu and seaweed.
  • Donburi: A rice bowl dish topped with various ingredients, like beef in gyudon or tempura in tendon.
  • Yakitori: Skewered and grilled chicken, often served with salt or tare sauce.
  • Shabu-shabu: A hotpot dish where diners cook thin slices of meat and vegetables in boiling broth at the table.
  • Katsu: Breaded and deep-fried meat, with pork (tonkatsu) being especially popular.
  • Karaage: Japanese-style fried chicken, known for its flavorful marinade and crispy texture.
  • Unagi: Grilled eel, usually served over rice. It’s glazed with a sweet soy-based sauce.
  • Tsukemono: Japanese pickles made from vegetables like radish or cucumber.
  • Oden: A winter dish, it’s a type of hotpot with various ingredients like daikon, boiled egg, and fish cakes in a soy-flavored broth.
  • Dango: Skewered rice dumplings, which can be sweet or savory, often seen during festivals.
  • Matcha: Green tea powder used in various dishes and drinks, including the ceremonial tea.
  • Mochi: Chewy rice cakes, often with sweet fillings like red bean paste.
  • Kaiseki: A traditional multi-course meal showcasing the finest seasonal ingredients and culinary techniques.
  • Gyoza: Japanese dumplings filled with ingredients like minced pork and cabbage.
  • Bento: A single-portion boxed meal with rice, fish or meat, and pickled or cooked vegetables.
  • Chawanmushi: A savory egg custard dish with various ingredients like shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, and ginkgo nuts.
  • Yakiniku: Refers to grilled meat dishes, often cooked by diners at the table.
  • Natto: Fermented soybeans, known for their strong flavor and sticky texture.
  • Wasabi: A pungent green paste made from the grated wasabi root, commonly served with sushi.
  • Edamame: Young green soybeans, usually boiled and salted, served as a popular appetizer.
  • Agedashi Tofu: Deep-fried tofu served in a soy-based broth.
  • Korokke: A Japanese croquette, often made from mashed potato or ground meat, breaded and deep-fried until golden.
  • Shirataki Noodles: Translucent, gelatinous noodles made from the konjac yam, commonly used in low-carbohydrate dishes.
  • Inarizushi: Sushi rice encased in a pocket of slightly sweet, marinated tofu skin.
  • Zenzai: A sweet red bean soup, usually served with mochi (rice cakes).
  • Ikayaki: Whole grilled squid, typically served on a stick at festivals and often brushed with a soy-based glaze.
  • Yatsuhashi: A traditional sweet from Kyoto, made from glutinous rice flour, sugar, and cinnamon, often filled with red bean paste.
  • Tamagoyaki: A slightly sweet, layered omelet that’s rolled up and sliced. Commonly found in bento boxes and sushi.
  • Hōtō: A comforting noodle soup dish from the Yamanashi Prefecture, made with flat, wide udon noodles and various vegetables.
  • Anmitsu: A dessert made of small cubes of agar jelly, served with sweet azuki bean paste, fruits, and often a scoop of ice cream.
  • Takuan: Pickled daikon radish, usually yellow in color and crunchy in texture.
  • Warabimochi: A jelly-like confection made from bracken starch, covered with sweet toasted soybean flour.
  • Basashi: Horse meat sashimi, typically served cold with garlic, soy sauce, and wasabi.
  • Kakigōri: Shaved ice dessert flavored with syrup, condensed milk, or other sweet toppings
  • Menma: Fermented bamboo shoots, commonly used as a topping in ramen.
  • Hiyayakko: Cold tofu typically garnished with grated ginger, green onions, and bonito flakes, served with soy sauce.


These beverages offer a glimpse into Japan’s diverse drinking culture, from traditional teas to modern concoctions.

  • Sake (Nihonshu): A traditional alcoholic drink made from fermented rice. It can be enjoyed warm or cold, and its flavor profile ranges from sweet to dry.
  • Shōchū: A distilled spirit, typically made from barley, sweet potatoes, or rice. It has a lower alcohol content than sake and can be consumed straight, on the rocks, or as a cocktail base.
  • Umeshu: A sweet and tangy plum wine made from steeping ume fruits (Japanese plums) in alcohol and sugar. It can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or with soda.
  • Amazake: A sweet, non-alcoholic drink made from fermented rice. It has a milky consistency and is often consumed warm, especially in winter.
  • Matcha: A powdered green tea used in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. It has a strong, earthy flavor and is also popular in lattes and desserts.
  • Sencha: A type of green tea that’s steamed and then dried. It’s the most common type of tea in Japan and has a fresh, vegetal taste.
  • Hōjicha: Roasted green tea with a reddish-brown color. Its roasting process gives it a distinct toasty flavor and reduced caffeine content.
  • Genmaicha: Green tea mixed with roasted brown rice. The rice adds a nutty flavor and sometimes pops like popcorn during roasting.
  • Mugicha: A caffeine-free tea made from roasted barley. It’s a popular summer drink, often served cold.
  • Ramune: A carbonated soft drink known for its unique glass bottle sealed with a marble. It comes in various flavors, with the original being a lemon-lime flavor.
  • Canned Coffee: Ready-to-drink coffee beverages available in vending machines and convenience stores. They come in a range of flavors from black to sweetened and milky.
  • Chūhai: An alcoholic drink made from shōchū mixed with carbonated water and various flavorings, from lemon to peach.
  • Aojiru: A health drink made from green vegetable juices, such as kale or young barley grass. It’s known for its numerous health benefits, though some find its taste challenging.
  • Kakigori Syrup: Sweet, colorful syrups used for flavoring shaved ice desserts. Popular flavors include strawberry, melon, and blue Hawaii.
  • Yuzushu: A liquor made by steeping yuzu fruit in shōchū or sake. The yuzu gives it a citrusy aroma and flavor, making it a refreshing choice.
  • Mizuwari: Meaning “mixed with water,” it refers to the way of drinking spirits like shōchū, where the spirit is mixed with cold water to dilute it.
  • Oolong-Hai: A cocktail made by mixing shōchū with oolong tea. It’s a refreshing choice, especially in summer.
  • Sakura Tea: A herbal tea made by steeping pickled cherry blossom petals in hot water. It has a subtle floral taste and is often enjoyed during cherry blossom season.


These animals, whether real or mythical, play various roles in the ecology, culture, and imagination of Japan.

  • Japanese Macaque (Snow Monkey): A primate native to Japan, recognized by its red face and furry coat. These monkeys are famously known for enjoying hot springs during the snowy winter months in the Japanese Alps.
  • Tanuki (Japanese Raccoon Dog): This animal has an appearance between a fox and a raccoon. It’s significant in Japanese folklore and often symbolizes transformation and mischief.
  • Koi: A type of ornamental carp often found in decorative ponds. Koi are symbols of love and friendship in Japan and come in various colors and patterns.
  • Shika (Sika Deer): Commonly found in places like Nara, where they roam freely and are regarded as sacred and national treasures.
  • Nihon Kamoshika (Japanese Serow): A goat-antelope native to Japan’s wooded areas. It’s a protected species and the national animal of Japan.
  • Akita Inu: A breed of large dog from the mountainous northern regions of Japan. These dogs are known for their loyalty, with the story of Hachiko being the most famous example.
  • Shiba Inu: A smaller breed of Japanese dog, known for its fox-like appearance and spirited personality.
  • Tsuchinoko: A mythical snake-like creature from Japanese folklore, often described as fat and short. Many claim to have seen it, but its existence remains unproven.
  • Japanese Giant Salamander: One of the largest salamanders in the world, it inhabits cool streams in western and southwestern parts of Japan.
  • Red-Crowned Crane (Tancho): A majestic bird symbolizing good luck, longevity, and fidelity. It’s a winter migratory bird often depicted in Japanese art and literature.
  • Iriomote Cat: A critically endangered wildcat found only on the Iriomote Island of Japan. It’s small and nocturnal, with fewer than 100 adults believed to exist.
  • Okinawa Rail: A flightless bird found only in the northern part of Okinawa Island. It’s known for its unique vocal calls and is also endangered.
  • Japanese Beetle: A small, shiny-green insect that feeds on plants and is known for its potential to be an agricultural pest.
  • Japanese Bobtail: A breed of domestic cat with a unique “bobbed” tail, often resembling a pom-pom. It’s known in folklore and art for bringing good luck.
  • Japanese Dwarf Flying Squirrel: This adorable creature glides between trees using a flap of skin between its limbs. It’s nocturnal and feeds mainly on nuts and fruits.
  • Ussuri Brown Bear: Also known as the Black Grizzly, this bear is native to Hokkaido and has a varied diet ranging from fish to berries.
  • Japanese Firefly: A type of luminescent insect that lights up summer evenings, especially near freshwater sources.
  • Amami Rabbit: A rare and ancient rabbit species found only on the Amami Islands of Japan. Its appearance is distinct with long whiskers and short ears.


These plants, whether cultivated or wild, contribute significantly to the natural beauty, cultural heritage, and culinary traditions of Japan.

  • Sakura (Cherry Blossom): Japan’s most iconic tree, which blooms with pink or white flowers in spring. The cherry blossom season, or “hanami,” is a major cultural event involving picnics and festivities.
  • Momiji (Japanese Maple): Known for its palmate leaves that turn brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow in autumn. There are many cultivars with various leaf forms and colors.
  • Katsura: A deciduous tree whose leaves emit a sweet scent in autumn, often likened to cotton candy or burnt sugar.
  • Bamboo: Pervasive in Japan, bamboo forests create a unique soundscape when the wind blows. Bamboo is also used in various crafts and as building material.
  • Wisteria: Cascading clusters of purple, pink, or white flowers make wisteria a sight to behold. Wisteria tunnels and trellises are popular tourist attractions.
  • Ume (Japanese Plum): Blossoms early in the year with fragrant flowers. The fruit is often pickled to create “umeboshi,” a sour and salty delicacy.
  • Ginkgo Biloba: An ancient tree species, the fan-shaped leaves turn a brilliant yellow in autumn. The roasted seeds are a traditional snack, though the fruit’s outer flesh has a pungent odor.
  • Azalea (Tsutsuji): A popular ornamental shrub with vibrant flowers ranging from pink to red and white.
  • Camellia (Tsubaki): Evergreen shrubs or small trees that produce red, pink, or white flowers. The seeds of Camellia japonica yield oil used in various products.
  • Satsuki Azalea: A type of rhododendron with large, colorful flowers, often used in bonsai.
  • Shiso (Perilla): A herb used in various Japanese dishes. Comes in green and red varieties, with a unique flavor that’s a cross between mint and basil.
  • Hinoki (Japanese Cypress): A tree prized for its high-quality timber, which is used in traditional construction and to make “hinoki” baths.
  • Moss: Integral to Japanese gardens, moss brings a sense of age, tranquility, and naturalness.
  • Lotus: This aquatic plant has significant spiritual symbolism in Buddhism. Its flowers, leaves, and seeds are also used in various dishes.
  • Wasabi: Grown in stream beds, it’s the source of the spicy condiment served with sushi. Real wasabi has a more nuanced flavor compared to its common horseradish substitute.
  • Kokedama: A form of Japanese garden art that involves growing plants in a moss-covered ball of soil.
  • Chrysanthemum (Kiku): Symbolic of the imperial family, these flowers are celebrated in festivals and come in various shapes and colors.
  • Horsetail (Tsukushi): An ancient plant that looks like miniature bamboo shoots and is often eaten in spring.
  • Nanten: A plant believed to ward off evil spirits, often found at entrances of homes.
  • Cryptomeria (Sugi): The national tree of Japan, these tall, evergreen trees are commonly found in forests and are used for timber.

Sports and Activities

These sports and activities reflect Japan’s rich cultural heritage, merging ancient traditions with modern influences.

  • Sumo: Japan’s national sport, sumo is a form of wrestling where competitors aim to force their opponent out of a circular ring or touch the ground with any body part other than the soles of their feet.
  • Kendo: A modern martial art of sword-fighting based on traditional Japanese swordsmanship. Practitioners use bamboo swords and protective armor.
  • Judo: Originating in Japan, judo is a martial art and Olympic sport focused on throws, pins, joint locks, and strangles.
  • Karate: A martial art developed in the Ryukyu Islands, karate involves striking techniques using fists, elbows, knees, and kicks. It’s now practiced worldwide.
  • Kyudo: The Japanese art of archery, where practitioners shoot at a target from a distance using longbows, emphasizing form and ritual.
  • Iaido: The martial art of drawing a sword, cutting an opponent, and then re-sheathing the sword in a smooth, controlled motion.
  • Aikido: A modern martial art that focuses on using an opponent’s energy against them, often redirecting attacks rather than countering force with force.
  • Sado (Tea Ceremony): A traditional ritual of preparing and serving green tea. It’s not only about the drink but emphasizes aesthetics, manners, and social interaction.
  • Ikebana (Flower Arranging): The traditional art of arranging flowers in harmonious compositions, emphasizing balance, simplicity, and seasonality.
  • Yosakoi: A modern group dance that combines traditional Japanese dance movements with contemporary music.
  • Bonsai: The art of cultivating small trees in containers, imitating the shape and style of mature, full-sized trees.
  • Shogi: Often called Japanese chess, it’s a strategy board game for two players. Unlike chess, captured pieces can reenter the game under the captor’s control.
  • Go: An ancient board game played with black and white stones. The objective is to capture territory by surrounding vacant points on the board.
  • Baseball: Introduced in the late 1800s, baseball, or “yakyu,” has become one of Japan’s most popular sports, with professional leagues and fervent fans.
  • Fishing: With its vast coastline, fishing, both as a hobby and profession, is popular in Japan. Specific types like “tenkara,” a simple fly-fishing method, have also gained attention.
  • Onsen Bathing: A leisure activity where people bathe in natural hot springs, believed to have therapeutic properties.
  • Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing): A springtime activity where people gather under blooming cherry trees to picnic, sing, and enjoy the transient beauty of the flowers.
  • Taiko Drumming: A traditional form of percussion using large drums. It’s both a musical performance and a physical activity.
  • Festivals (Matsuri): Held throughout the year, festivals often involve dancing, games, food, and sometimes specific sports or challenges.
  • Noh and Kabuki: Traditional theatrical arts combining music, dance, and drama, known for their elaborate costumes and masks.

Tourist Sites and Attractions

These attractions, among many others in Japan, draw tourists from around the world, offering a mix of historical, cultural, natural, and modern experiences.

  • Mount Fuji: Standing at 3,776 meters, Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest and most iconic mountain. Revered as a sacred peak, it’s a popular destination for both pilgrimage and mountain climbing, especially during the summer season. The picturesque views of Mount Fuji, especially with cherry blossoms or against a setting sun, are symbolic images of Japan.
  • Tokyo Skytree: Towering over Tokyo at 634 meters, the Skytree is the world’s tallest freestanding tower. Besides being a broadcasting and communication hub, its two observation decks offer unparalleled views of Tokyo and, on clear days, Mount Fuji in the distance.
  • Kiyomizudera Temple: Located in Kyoto, this historic temple offers panoramic views of the city from its main hall’s wooden terrace. Founded in 780, the temple is associated with a pure water spring and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji): Another of Kyoto’s gems, this Zen Buddhist temple is famous for its top two floors, which are completely covered in gold leaf. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and set against a reflective pond, it’s a favorite spot for both contemplation and photography.
  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park: Commemorating the tragic atomic bombing of 1945, the park includes the haunting Atomic Bomb Dome ruins and the Peace Memorial Museum. It serves as a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and a plea for world peace.
  • Nara Park and Todai-ji Temple: In Nara, this expansive park is home to friendly roaming deer, considered messengers of the gods. The park’s Todai-ji Temple houses the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue.
  • Osaka Castle: A historic landmark, this castle is surrounded by impressive stone walls and moats. Inside, it’s been converted into a museum detailing Osaka’s history, while its observation deck provides city views.
  • Fushimi Inari Taisha: Renowned for its thousands of vibrant red torii gates, which create a path up the sacred Mount Inari in Kyoto. It’s dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice and agriculture.
  • Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: Located in Kyoto, this ethereal bamboo forest is a favorite among visitors. The tall bamboo stalks seem to touch the sky, creating a serene atmosphere that’s further complemented by the gentle rustling of leaves.
  • Himeji Castle: Often called the “White Heron Castle” due to its brilliant white exterior, this is Japan’s most preserved feudal castle and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its architecture and defensive systems exemplify Japanese castle design.
  • Okinawa’s Beaches: The southernmost prefecture of Japan, Okinawa boasts beautiful subtropical beaches and clear blue waters, perfect for snorkeling, diving, and relaxation.
  • Gion District: Kyoto’s famous geisha district, where visitors can experience the traditional entertainment culture of Japan and possibly spot a geisha or maiko (apprentice geisha) walking between engagements.
  • Akihabara: Tokyo’s “Electric Town,” Akihabara is a haven for fans of anime, manga, video games, and electronics, filled with stores, cafes, and entertainment centers dedicated to various subcultures.

Musical Instruments

Each of these instruments has its unique history, construction, and cultural significance within Japan. Many are still actively played in traditional ceremonies, performances, and contemporary music settings.

  • Koto: A long, zither-like instrument with 13 strings. Played with three finger picks, the koto produces soft and ethereal sounds and has a long-standing tradition in Japanese court music.
  • Shamisen: A three-stringed, banjo-like instrument played with a plectrum called “bachi.” Its sound is distinct and often associated with kabuki theater and folk songs.
  • Taiko: Large, barrel-shaped drums that produce deep, resonating sounds. Taiko drumming is a group activity, and performances are both musical and choreographed spectacles.
  • Shakuhachi: A bamboo flute with five finger holes, known for its haunting and ethereal tone. Traditionally played by Zen monks as a form of meditation.
  • Biwa: A short-necked lute with origins from China. Used in narrative storytelling, it often accompanies epic tales and legends.
  • Fue: A general term for Japanese flutes, which come in various sizes and styles. Commonly paired with taiko drums in ensemble performances.
  • Hichiriki: A double-reed instrument, similar to an oboe. Often used in gagaku (Imperial court music).
  • Ryūteki: Literally “dragon flute,” this horizontal bamboo flute has a high-pitched sound and is also integral to gagaku.
  • Kokyū: The only traditional Japanese stringed instrument played with a bow. It looks similar to the shamisen but is played upright like a cello.
  • Tsuzumi: A hand drum with an hourglass shape. It’s essential in noh and kabuki theater performances.
  • Hyōshigi: Wooden clappers used primarily for their rhythmic, percussive sound in kabuki and noh theater.
  • Suzu: A bell that produces a jingling sound when shaken. Used in various religious rituals and traditional arts.
  • Shō: A mouth organ made up of 17 bamboo pipes. It produces a rich, harmonious sound and is another instrument used in gagaku.

Notable People

These individuals have left an indelible mark in their respective fields, showcasing the depth and diversity of Japanese contributions to global culture, politics, arts, and more.

  • Akira Kurosawa: One of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema, Kurosawa directed iconic films like “Seven Samurai” and “Rashomon.” His pioneering techniques and storytelling have impacted filmmakers worldwide.
  • Hokusai Katsushika: A prominent ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period, Hokusai is best known for his woodblock print series “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji,” which includes the famous “Great Wave off Kanagawa.”
  • Haruki Murakami: An internationally acclaimed contemporary author, Murakami’s novels, such as “Norwegian Wood” and “Kafka on the Shore,” blend surrealism with themes of loneliness and existentialism.
  • Yoko Ono: An avant-garde artist, musician, and peace activist, Ono is also known for her work in the 1960s with her late husband, John Lennon. Her artistic endeavors span music, visual art, and performance pieces.
  • Shigeru Miyamoto: A legendary video game designer at Nintendo, Miyamoto is the mind behind iconic franchises such as “Super Mario,” “The Legend of Zelda,” and “Donkey Kong.”
  • Marie Kondo: An organizing consultant and author, Kondo has popularized the “KonMari” method of decluttering, which emphasizes keeping items that “spark joy.” Her approach has influenced home organization worldwide.
  • Hayao Miyazaki: Co-founder of Studio Ghibli and an acclaimed animator and director, Miyazaki’s films like “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbor Totoro” are celebrated for their intricate animations and profound storytelling.
  • Shinzo Abe: The longest-serving Prime Minister of Japan, Abe has been a significant political figure in the 21st century, advocating for economic reforms known as “Abenomics” and a more assertive Japanese foreign policy.
  • Masako Owada: The Empress Consort of Japan, Masako has been in the global spotlight, not only for her role in the imperial family but also for her previous career as a diplomat.
  • Issey Miyake: A renowned fashion designer known for technology-driven designs and innovative fabrics. His brand has made significant contributions to the world of fashion.
  • Naomi Osaka: A professional tennis player who has won multiple Grand Slam titles. Osaka is known for her powerful gameplay and activism off the court, especially related to racial justice and mental health awareness.
  • Ken Watanabe: An acclaimed actor recognized both in Japan and internationally. Watanabe has starred in films like “The Last Samurai” and “Letters from Iwo Jima” and has become one of the most familiar Japanese faces in Hollywood.
  • Sachio Kinugasa: A legendary baseball player known for breaking Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played. He was a symbol of endurance and dedication in Japanese sports.
  • Ryuichi Sakamoto: A versatile musician, composer, and producer, Sakamoto’s work ranges from electronic music to film scores. He’s won multiple awards, including an Academy Award for his score for “The Last Emperor.”
  • Nobuo Uematsu: A composer best known for his work on the “Final Fantasy” video game series. His compositions, like the “Final Fantasy” main theme and “One-Winged Angel,” are iconic in the gaming community.


These inventions underscore Japan’s deep history of innovation, touching various facets of daily life, technology, medicine, and entertainment.

  • Instant Ramen: Invented by Momofuku Ando in 1958, this quick-cooking noodle dish revolutionized convenience food and has become a global staple.
  • Karaoke: Daisuke Inoue developed this popular entertainment system in the early 1970s, where amateur singers can sing along with recorded music using a microphone.
  • Quartz wristwatch: Introduced by Seiko in 1969, the Quartz watch revolutionized timekeeping with its unprecedented accuracy.
  • Digital Camera: In 1980, Sony released the Mavica, an early electronic camera, paving the way for the era of digital photography.
  • CD Player: Sony and Philips co-developed the Compact Disc (CD) technology in the early 1980s, transforming the music industry.
  • Walkman: Sony’s portable cassette player, introduced in 1979, changed the way people listened to music on the go.
  • 3D Printing: Hideo Kodama first conceptualized additive manufacturing in 1981, laying the foundation for modern 3D printing.
  • Electric Rice Cooker: Toshiba introduced this in 1956, simplifying the process of rice cooking and making it consistent.
  • Blue LED Light: Pioneered in the early 1990s by Shuji Nakamura, alongside Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano, this invention led to energy-saving white LED lights.
  • Tape Recorder: In 1930, Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo released the first-ever magnetic tape recorder.
  • Pocket Calculator: Casio introduced the first compact, all-electric calculator in the 1960s, making calculations portable.
  • Bullet Train (Shinkansen): Launched in 1964, this high-speed rail transformed transport in Japan and inspired similar systems worldwide.
  • Emoji: Originated in Japan in the late 1990s on mobile phones, these pictographs have since become a major part of online communication.
  • Umami Flavor Discovery: Kikunae Ikeda identified the fifth basic taste, umami, in 1908, broadening the understanding of flavors.
  • Lithium-ion Battery: Developed in the 1980s by Akira Yoshino, these batteries now power a vast range of electronic devices.
  • Plasma Display: Co-developed by teams in the US and Japan, the latter’s Fujitsu played a crucial role in refining the technology in the 1980s.
  • Automatic Opening Umbrella: Introduced in the 1920s, this innovation added convenience to an everyday item.
  • VHS (Video Home System): Developed by JVC in the 1970s, VHS tapes dominated home video entertainment for decades.
  • Motor-Driven Rice Polishing Machine: Invented in 1868 by Genpachi Okayasu, it dramatically improved rice production efficiency.
  • Wearable Electronic Glasses: Sony’s release of the Glasstron in 1997 paved the way for future augmented reality (AR) devices.
  • Kuru-Kuru Nabe: A self-stirring pot designed by Hideki Watanabe, its shape creates a whirlpool motion when heated, stirring its contents automatically.
  • Tactile Paving: Invented by Seiichi Miyake in 1965, these textured ground surfaces assist the visually impaired in navigating public spaces.
  • Furoshiki: An ancient Japanese wrapping cloth used for transporting goods. Though not a modern invention, its eco-friendly concept has seen a revival in contemporary times.
  • Washlets (High-tech Toilets): Introduced by TOTO in the 1980s, these toilets with built-in bidets and other features are now synonymous with Japanese innovation.
  • Oekaki-style Sewing Machine: Introduced by Brother Industries in 1979, it allowed users to create embroidery patterns.
  • Tsuitate: A traditional freestanding partition used for privacy and interior design in Japanese homes.
  • Epalrestat: An anti-diabetic drug developed in Japan to treat peripheral neuropathies associated with diabetes.
  • Tornado Pan: A frying pan invented by Hideki Watanabe with a unique spiral groove to evenly distribute heat.
  • LAN Tornado: Introduced by NEC in the late 1980s, it’s an early local area network system.
  • Pachinko: A mechanical arcade game, it’s a mix between pinball and slot machine and an integral part of Japanese entertainment.
  • QR Code: Developed by Denso Wave in 1994, these matrix barcodes quickly store data and have become universally adopted.
  • Statue of Liberty Illusion: A psychological phenomenon discovered by Ikuya Murakami in the late 20th century.
  • Just-in-Time Manufacturing: A methodology developed by Toyota in the 1960s to improve production efficiency.
  • Electronic Paper (E-paper): Bridgestone Corp pioneered this in the 2000s, leading to flexible, power-efficient displays.
  • Byodoin Phoenix: The earliest surviving example of a completely articulated Japanese metal sculpture from the 11th century.
  • Laputa Communicator: An early prototype of a mobile touch-screen device developed by Seiko Epson in the late 1980s.
  • Kappa: A traditional water impeller used in olden times, which later inspired various water wheel designs.
  • Synthetic Ruby Crystal Production: A method developed by Jun-ichi Nishizawa in the 1960s, critical for various electronic applications.
  • Pulsar Calculators: Released in the 1970s, these were among the earliest calculator watches.
  • Erythromycin: Discovered by the Japanese scientist Juro Watanabe in 1949, it’s an antibiotic used to treat various bacterial infections.

TV Shows, Songs, Entertainment

Japan’s entertainment sector has greatly influenced global pop culture, offering a unique blend of storytelling, creativity, and innovation.

  • Karaoke: Originating from Japan, “Karaoke” is an interactive entertainment style where individuals sing along to pre-recorded music. The phenomenon has since swept the world, becoming a staple in bars and parties globally.
  • J-Pop: Japanese pop music, or J-Pop, encompasses various genres, from rock to idol music. Stars like Hikaru Utada have gained international fame with hits like “First Love”, while bands like Arashi have dominated domestic charts.
  • Studio Ghibli Films: This renowned animation studio, co-founded by Hayao Miyazaki, has produced a plethora of beloved films such as “Spirited Away,” which is known for its enchanting stories, complex characters, and detailed animation.
  • Akira: Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, “Akira” is a landmark anime film that explores post-apocalyptic Tokyo and societal decay. It’s highly influential, shaping cyberpunk culture and anime worldwide.
  • Shonen Jump: A weekly manga magazine, it has serialized some of Japan’s most iconic stories, such as “Dragon Ball” by Akira Toriyama, which follows the adventures of Goku as he seeks the Dragon Balls.
  • Pokémon: Originally a video game by Game Freak and published by Nintendo, Pokémon’s world of capturing and battling monsters quickly grew to encompass an anime, movies, toys, and more, making it a cultural phenomenon.
  • Final Fantasy: A series of role-playing video games developed and published by Square Enix. These games are celebrated for their intricate storylines, memorable characters, and grand music scores by composers like Nobuo Uematsu.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, it’s a foundational platformer video game series. Mario’s adventures in the Mushroom Kingdom, alongside his brother Luigi, have become iconic in the gaming world.
  • Doraemon: Centering on a robotic cat from the future named Doraemon, this manga and anime series offers comedic and heartfelt tales as Doraemon helps a young boy, Nobita, navigate everyday challenges.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Crafted by Hideaki Anno, this anime series delves into complex themes of human psyche, wrapped in a mecha-driven plot. It has been both critically acclaimed and occasionally controversial.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Set in the Meiji era, this manga and anime chronicle the story of Kenshin Himura, a former assassin turned wanderer who vows never to kill again.
  • Sailor Moon: Naoko Takeuchi’s magical girl series, which follows Usagi Tsukino and her friends as they battle evil forces. The series has become synonymous with the magical girl genre.
  • The Ring (Ringu): A horror movie directed by Hideo Nakata, based on Koji Suzuki’s novel. It revolves around a cursed videotape that dooms those who watch it to die in seven days.
  • Takeshi’s Castle: A wacky game show, hosted by Takeshi Kitano. Contestants face off against a series of humorous and often physically demanding challenges.
  • One Punch Man: A satirical take on the superhero genre, this manga and anime follow Saitama, a hero so strong he defeats enemies with a single punch, leading to an existential crisis.
  • Attack on Titan: Created by Hajime Isayama, this series delves into a world where humanity is on the brink of extinction due to giant humanoid creatures known as Titans.
  • Terrace House: A reality show that places six strangers together in a house, capturing their daily lives and relationships. It stands out for its genuine feel and insightful commentary.
  • Nier: Automata: A video game developed by PlatinumGames and published by Square Enix. It blends action-packed gameplay with a thought-provoking narrative about androids, identity, and existence.
  • Anpanman: A beloved children’s show that revolves around a hero with a head made of bread filled with red bean paste. It teaches values like kindness and courage.
  • JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Hirohiko Araki’s manga series, known for its unique art style, intricate plots, and flamboyant characters across different generations of the Joestar family.
  • Death Note: A manga and anime series created by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. It tells the story of a high school student who acquires a notebook with the power to kill anyone by writing their name in it, leading to a psychological battle of wits with a brilliant detective named L.
  • My Neighbor Totoro: Another masterpiece from Studio Ghibli, it’s a heartwarming tale of two young sisters and their adventures with friendly forest spirits in rural Japan.
  • Dark Souls: Developed by FromSoftware, it’s a challenging video game series renowned for its intricate world-building, difficult combat, and deep lore.
  • Naruto: Masashi Kishimoto’s tale of Naruto Uzumaki, an orphaned ninja with dreams of becoming the strongest ninja and leader of his village. It’s known for its rich character development and action-packed scenes.
  • Bleach: Created by Tite Kubo, it revolves around Ichigo Kurosaki who acquires the powers of a Soul Reaper—a death personification similar to the Grim Reaper—and his battles against malevolent lost spirits known as Hollows.
  • Persona 5: A role-playing video game developed by Atlus. Players take on the role of a silent protagonist who becomes involved in heists while living out his daily life as a high school student in Tokyo.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Written by Hiromu Arakawa, it’s about two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who use alchemy in their quest to search for the Philosopher’s Stone to restore their bodies.
  • Kingdom Hearts: A video game series developed by Square Enix, it combines characters and settings from Disney films with those from Square’s Final Fantasy series.
  • Midnight Diner (Shinya Shokudō): A television series about a late-night diner in Tokyo and its mysterious chef, focusing on the stories of his various customers.
  • Your Name (Kimi no Na wa): A film directed by Makoto Shinkai, it’s a romantic fantasy drama about two teenagers who discover they can swap bodies.
  • Ghost in the Shell: A cyberpunk media franchise based on the manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow. It delves deep into themes of self-identity in a technologically advanced world.
  • Animal Crossing: A popular video game series by Nintendo where players live in a village inhabited by anthropomorphic animals and engage in various activities.
  • Demon Slayer (Kimetsu no Yaiba): A manga and anime series about Tanjiro Kamado, a young boy who becomes a demon slayer after his family is slaughtered by demons.
  • Dragon Quest: A video game series created by Yuji Horii. Its charm, characters designed by Akira Toriyama, and soundtracks by Koichi Sugiyama have made it a cornerstone of the JRPG genre.
  • The Tale of Princess Kaguya: An animated film by Studio Ghibli, based on a 10th-century Japanese literary tale. It chronicles the life of a mysterious girl discovered as a tiny baby inside the stalk of a glowing plant.
  • Super Smash Bros.: A crossover fighting game series by Nintendo, bringing characters from various franchises together for epic battles.
  • Cowboy Bebop: A space-western anime series that follows a group of bounty hunters as they travel through the galaxy. It’s revered for its storytelling, character depth, and music.
  • The Grudge (Ju-on): A horror film series about a curse born from someone dying with a deep grudge. The curse causes its victims to die in the grip of a powerful rage.
  • Tokyo Ghoul: A dark fantasy manga and anime series that follows Kaneki, a college student who becomes a half-ghoul after a deadly encounter with one of these flesh-eating creatures.
  • Love Live!: A multimedia project centered around school idols. It consists of music albums, anime television shows, movies, and video games.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka: A manga and anime series about a former biker gang member, Onizuka, who becomes a teacher and attempts to use unconventional methods to reach out to his students.
  • Hatsune Miku: A virtual pop star and the most famous character from the Vocaloid voice synthesizer program. She’s been featured in countless songs, concerts, and products.
  • Monster: A manga and anime series by Naoki Urasawa. It follows Dr. Kenzo Tenma as he pursues a former patient, a sociopathic child named Johan.
  • Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea: Located in Urayasu, these theme parks combine the magic of Disney with unique attractions not found in other Disney parks worldwide.
  • Ace Attorney (Gyakuten Saiban): A video game series where players take on the role of defense attorneys, striving to prove their clients’ innocence.
  • Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atomu): Created by Osamu Tezuka, known as the “god of manga”, Astro Boy is a science fiction series set in a futuristic world where robots co-exist with humans.
  • Tokyo Tower: An iconic landmark in Tokyo, this Eiffel Tower-inspired structure offers panoramic views of the city and hosts various entertainment venues.
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: An anime and light novel series that blends sci-fi and slice-of-life genres, focusing on a high school club seeking supernatural events.
  • Hikaru no Go: A manga and anime series about the ancient board game Go, infused with a supernatural twist involving a spirit named Sai.
  • Silent Hill: A horror video game series developed by Konami, known for its atmospheric and psychological horror.


These slang terms give insights into contemporary Japanese culture, particularly among the younger generation. As with slang in any language, the meanings can change rapidly and can be region-specific. It’s always good to be cautious and understand the context when using or encountering them.

  • バカ (Baka): Literally “fool” or “idiot.” It’s a common way to call someone stupid, but friends might use it playfully.
  • うるさい (Urusai): Literally “noisy” or “loud,” but can also be used like “annoying” or “bothersome.”
  • だめ (Dame): Means “no good” or “not allowed.”
  • ワイワイ (Wai Wai): Describes a lively and noisy atmosphere.
  • きもい (Kimoi): Shortened form of “気持ち悪い,” meaning “gross” or “creepy.”
  • すごい (Sugoi): Can mean “awesome,” “amazing,” or “terrible” based on context.
  • はずかしい (Hazukashii): “Embarrassing.”
  • ほんま (Honma): Kansai dialect for “本当 (Hontō)” which means “really.”
  • さびしい (Sabishii): “Lonely.”
  • なんで (Nande): “Why?”
  • かわいそう (Kawaisou): Can mean “poor thing” or “pitiable.”
  • のんびり (Nonbiri): To relax or take it easy.
  • ばり (Bari): A slang from Kyushu area, meaning “very” or “super.”
  • ググる (Guguru): Comes from “Google,” means “to search online.”
  • マジ (Maji): “Really” or “seriously.”
  • ヤバい (Yabai): Can mean both “awesome” and “oh no!” depending on context.
  • だめぽ (Damepo): Something that’s no good or useless.
  • うざい (Uzai): “Annoying.”
  • ぷりぷり (Puripuri): Describes someone who’s sulking.
  • でかい (Dekai): “Huge” or “big.”
  • ちっちゃい (Chicchai): “Tiny” or “small.”
  • モテモテ (Motemote): Describes someone who’s popular or desirable.
  • ぜんぜん (Zenzen): While traditionally it means “not at all,” among youth it can mean “totally” when paired with a positive adjective.
  • アホの子 (Aho no Ko): “Stupid kid” or “silly person.”
  • めんどくさい (Mendokusai): “Troublesome” or “bother.”
  • はっぴー (Happii): From English “happy.”
  • ピンピン (Pinpin): Describes someone full of energy, often used for the elderly.
  • ガキ (Gaki): “Brat” or “kid.”
  • ドンマイ (Donmai): From English “don’t mind,” meaning “don’t worry about it.”
  • キモカワ (Kimokawa): Combination of “きもい (Kimoi)” and “かわいい (Kawaii),” meaning “creepy-cute.”

We hope this list of Japanese things was useful and that you found what you needed!

We did our best to cover all of the varied meanings of “Japanese” with our visual gallery of Japanese things and descriptive list. But if you feel there’s something we missed, please feel free to let us know and leave a comment.

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