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Life: Daily Life

  • I am very interested in Japanese cooking. Do you have any recipes of traditional Japanese food?
    Check out our A Japanese Cookbook for Kids.

  • What are the ingredients in miso soup? What is tofu made from?
    Why not learn how to make miso soup yourself in our Japanese Cookbook section? Miso - the bean paste used in the soup - and tofu are both made from soy beans. Tofu, by the way, is a commonly used ingredient for miso soup.

  • Why do Japanese people mostly only eat rice?
    Although rice is the Japanese people's staple food, this does't mean they eat little of anything else. Rice is an important part of a traditional Japanese meal, but other foods are also eaten at the same time. You can learn more by reading An Introduction to Japanese Food in our own A Japanese Cookbook for Kids section.

  • How much rice does Japan make per year?
    According to the Ministry of Forestry and Fisheries, in 1999 about 9,175,000 metric tons of rice were produced in Japan.

  • In Japan, do they have fast-food shops like Subway, Pizza Hut, Hardee's, and Burger King?
    Japan has many fast-food shops, especially in Tokyo and other big cities, both foreign - like the ones listed above, though Hardee's hasn't made it to Japan yet - and domestic, like Freshness Burger, Mos Burger, and Lotteria. McDonald's, for example, has over 3,000 shops across Japan.

  • How much does sushi cost in Japan?
    Prices for sushi vary depending upon the place and the type, but on average, prices can range from 100 yen for two pieces at family restaurants all the way up to 10,000 yen or more for sushi dinners at expensive restaurants.

  • What do Japanese people eat for breakfast?
    A traditional Japanese breakfast, like in the picture, might contain grilled fish, rice, miso soup, and Japanese pickles. Often, people eat the rice by rolling it up in a sheet of nori (dried seaweed) and dipping it in soy sauce. Another popular breakfast dish is natto, pungent fermented soy beans. Many Japanese don't have time to eat a full Japanese breakfast every day, so Western-style breakfast dishes like cereal, toast, sausages, and eggs have also become popular.

  • What kind of tea do Japanese people drink?
    Traditional Japanese tea, or o-cha, is green tea. It is made from the same kind of tea plants as black tea. The difference is that the leaves are not fermented before drying. Black tea is also popular in Japan, as are other kinds of tea like Oolong.

  • What is teppanyaki?
    A teppan is an iron hotplate on which food is cooked. Yaki means "fry," so teppanyaki means "fried on a hotplate." This style of cooking is one of the most popular forms of Japanese food around the world. At teppanyaki restaurants, specially trained chefs cook meat, vegetables, seafood, and other foods on a teppan in front of customers. This means you can watch your dinner being prepared.

  • What does a Japanese home look like?
    Go to Housing, Food, and Clothes.

  • What are the characteristics of tatami?
    Tatami is a mat used as a flooring material in traditional Japanese-style rooms. Since the Muromachi period (1338-1573) tatami have been made of a thick base of straw covered with a soft surface of woven rush. A single tatami usually measures 1.91 by 0.95 meters (6.3 by 3.1 feet). In Japan the size of rooms, Western and Japanese-style alike, are often measured in terms of "mats of tatami." Tatami flooring is cool in the summer and warm in the winter and remains fresher than carpet during Japan's humid months.

  • How do Japanese people sleep?
    Many Japanese, especially those of the older generation, still sleep on the traditional futon (a thin mattress that is placed on the tatami floor and used as a bed, and which can be folded up when not used). Today, however, more and more Japanese sleep on Western-style beds. For more information about the Japanese lifestyle in general, browse through Housing, Food, and Clothes.

  • What is a Japanese bath like? How do people take a bath in Japan?
    Look at this page on Japanese bathing customs.

  • What is shoji used for?
    A shoji is a sliding screen used for doors and windows in traditional Japanese houses and rooms (many Western-style houses in Japan have one or more Japanese-style rooms in them). It is covered with thin, usually white paper glued onto a wooden lattice, allowing light to pass through it.

  • Do Japanese families have pets? Which pet is the most popular?
    About 40% of Japanese families have pets. Many apartment buildings in Japan have rules saying that you cannot have pets, so some people who want to own a pet are not able to. The most popular pets are dogs, followed by cats and fish.

  • What does genkan mean?
    Genkan is the entrance hall just inside the front door of a Japanese home. When you enter a Japanese home, you must take off your shoes and change into slippers (Japanese families always have extra slippers ready for guests). The genkan is where you leave your shoes and put on the slippers.

  • What does futon mean?
    A futon is a traditional form of Japanese bedding. It is made up of a shikibuton (quilt-like mattress), which you lie on, and a kakebuton (quilted bedcover), which covers you and keeps you warm. A futon can be easily folded up and stored away when it is not in use, which is a great space saver.

  • What do traditional Japanese houses look like inside?
    More and more people in Japan live in Western-style houses today, but some of the houses still have traditional-style rooms.

  • What are some of Japan's traditional foods, and how is the Japanese diet changing?
    Go to Housing, Food, and Clothes.

  • What are some of the fashion trends for teenage girls in Japan?
    Check out about teenage fashion at What's Cool in Japan section.

  • What are some of the traditional outfits worn in Japan?
    Among the many styles of traditional clothing is the furisode, which is still worn on special occasions like seijin no hi.

  • What kind of clothing would people wear to funerals?
    The basic rule is to wear black formal clothes, although children can go with their school uniforms instead, regardless of color. Some people - usually women - wear black kimonos, but Western clothes are the mainstream. Men usually wear a black suit, a black necktie, and a white shirt.

  • Can you tell me about traditional Japanese wooden slippers? What is the Japanese term for them?
    Traditional wooden slippers are called geta. They are made of a thong attached to a wooden platform with two crosswise supports. Geta were worn by people working in rice paddies in the Yayoi period (around 300 B.C. to 300 A.D.), so you can see that they have a very long history. Today, geta are often worn with yukata, an unlined kimono popular in summer.


  • How do you put on a kimono?
    Putting a kimono on yourself or another person is very difficult. Some people go to special kimono classes to learn how to wear this beautiful Japanese garment. Luckily, you don't have to go to class to see how a kimono is worn, because Kids Web has created a Kimono page, where you can learn about the history and of kimonos and even try your hand at putting a kimono on in the Virtual Kimono section.

  • At what age do kids get their driver's licenses in Japan?
    In Japan, people may take their test to get an automobile driver's license at age 18. People aged 16 or older can get a license for small motorcycles and scooters, though. Did you know, by the way, that people in Japan drive on the left side of the road?

  • What is the standard system of measurement used in Japan?
    Japan, like most of the modernized world, uses the standard metric system.

  • Do many people use personal computers in Japan?
    Yes. In 1997, close to 7 million personal computers were sold in Japan, and in 1998, there were over 9 million people registered to Internet/online service providers.

  • What kinds of letters are on the keyboards of Japanese computers?
    The letter keys of Japanese keyboards are arranged the same as Western keyboards (QWERTY...). However, as well as a letter each key is printed with one Japanese hiragana or katakana character, so there are two symbols on each key. By pressing a special "input mode change" key, people can switch from typing in Roman letters or in Japanese characrters.