The word for "meal" in Japanese is gohan. This word actually refers to steamed rice, but rice is such an important food to the Japanese that gohan has come to mean all sorts of meals - even Western ones like spaghetti.
The most traditional Japanese meal is a serving of plain, white rice, along with a main dish (fish or meat), some kind of side dish (often cooked vegetables), soup (either miso soup or clear broth), and pickled vegetables.
Before eating, Japanese people say "itadakimasu," a polite phrase meaning "I receive this food." This expresses thanks to whoever worked to prepare the food in the meal.
Many people eat by taking a bite of the main or side dish, then eating a little rice, and then having a sip of soup straight from the bowl (soup isn't usually eaten with a spoon). A little rice is saved until the end of the meal, when it is eaten with the pickled vegetables.
After eating, people once again express their thanks for the meal by saying "gochiso sama deshita," which literally means "it was quite a feast."
Now that you know how to eat a Japanese meal, let's take a look at how to hold the chopsticks and dishes.