The land of the rising sun has one of the most enviable food cultures on Earth. Japanese food culture is legendary for its attention to detail and refined flavors.
From sushi to Kobe beef, it’s famed for elegant and exciting tastes and culinary experiences. And it can be surprisingly tricky to learn to cook good Japanese food.
And that’s why it can be off-putting to get started with Japanese food at home.
That’s why we put this list of the best Japanese cookbooks together, because with the right instructors, anyone can learn to make delicious Japanese food. See for yourselves.
This is amazing Japanese food, made easy.
Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuji
This book has been an absolute standard of any would-be Japanese chef’s library for nearly 30 years now. It is considered to be one of the defining texts of Japanese food.
Yet, the food inside is not complex or hard to make, it’s simple to prepare weekday fodder of hte kind that a Japanese person would prepare after work. It’s super tasty too!
Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen by Elizabeth Andoh
The word “Washoku” simply means “the food of Japan”.
As you might expect, this book aims to cover the length and breadth of Japanese cookery and even hits on new food trends such as keto, paleo and vegan.
Elizabeth’s strength in Washoku is simply to try and introduce people to the entire scope of Japanese food from classic dishes to the modern day.
She also takes you on a tour of everything from carnivore to vegan recipes, and you simply can’t go wrong, no matter who’s coming to dinner, with this cookbook.
The recipes are to die for and it’s the best all-purpose book for Japanese food there is.
Everyday Harumi: Simple Japanese food for family and friends by Harumi Kurihara
Harumi Kurihara is one of Japan’s best-loved food writers and in this book she wants to give those who can’t make it to Asia to eat Japanese food an easy introduction to making their own.
Her steak in miso is to die for and we love the wya she teaches you all you need to know, not just about making a recipe but about all the ingredients it uses too.
Japan: The Cookbook by Nancy Singleton Hachisu
This could be the definitive Japanese cookbook and it’s written by an American! Nancy has won many awards in Japan for her devotion to the cuisine, though.
There’s everything from simple home cooking ideas to all the tools you’d need to cook a Japanese banquet here. And it’s all amazing.
Nancy is one of the major names in Japanese cookery and this book doesn’t disappoint. It brings you 400 of her favorite recipes from every corner of Japan and its culinary culture.
The only drawback of a book this ambitious is that it doesn’t specialize in any particular area of Japanese food, for that you’ll need to check out the rest of this list.
Donabe: Classic and Modern Japanese Clay Pot Cooking by Naoko Takei Moore and Kyle Connaughton
Clay Pot Cooking is not to be confused with Chinese hot pots but the results are every bit as tasty and you can cook almost anything in a clay pot when you know how.
Donabe is known as “clay pot cooking” and you use a claypot because it can be left to steam safely all day long if needed.
The food here is healthy, hearty and obscenely easy to cook, if you want flavor but don’t want to coat everything in seasoning, this is where to begin.
We’d recommend these recipes for cold winter days when you want something healthy, filling and warming to eat.
Japanese Patisserie: Exploring The Beautiful and Delicious Fusion of East Meets West by James Campbell
Most Asian cuisines are a bit light on desserts, there’s not a huge preference for sweet cakes but Japan is different.
These desserts are so good that this book almost made our top 40 list of the best cookbooks of all time.
They’re delicate, intricate and surprising and oh so tasty!
Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession, and Recipes From Tokyo’s Most Unlikely Noodle Joint by Ivan Orkin and Chris Ying
Ivan starred on Netflix’s Chef’s Table and that’s because he moved to Japan in order to become the best ramen chef on earth.
According to the Japanese, he succeeded.
If you love ramen, there’s no finer guide to it anywhere on the planet than this one.
Japanese Soul Cooking: Ramen, Tonkatsu, Tempura and More From The Streets and Kitchens of Tokyo and Beyond by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat
You won’t find any sushi here as this is really an exploration of Japanese street food (if Japan did street food that is) and it’s meant to show that there’s real comfort food to be found in Japan.
The photo stories combined with the intricate step-by-step guides to making each dish make this one of the best introductions to Japanese cooking going.
We picked up our copy of this book in Tokyo!
If you love Japanese food, there will be no surprise dishes here but the results are mighty tasty.
Sushi: Taste and Techniques by Kimiko Barber and Hiroki Takemura
Ask anyone in the West about Japanese food and sushi is likely to come up in the first breath, so it would be remiss to not have a sushi specialist cookbook on our list.
This simple and well-illustrated guide will help you make sushi at home that absolutely puts restaurant food to shame.
Japanese Farm Food by Nancy Singleton Hachisu
This is Nancy’s second effort on our list and it’s much more refined in scope.
Nancy transports us to a Japanese farm and shows us how to make use of the freshest Japanese produce.
The food inside is simple, humble and traditional but never boring and always tasty.
The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches To Go by Makiko Itoh and Makiko Doi
The Bento box has become something of a Japanese cultural icon in the West but how do you make an artful and tasty lunchbox?
This book is all you need to make Bento that others would die for.
The Japanese Grill: From Classic Yakitori to Steak, Seafood and Vegetables by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat
They love to grill food in Japan and this is the ideal introduction to Japanese food for an American BBQ fanatic.
Whatever you can grill, it’s in there and the yakitori is the best we’ve ever tasted.
Final Thoughts On The Best Japanese Cookbooks
So, there you have it, some noble companions that can guide you to the pinnacle of Japanese cookery from the comfort of your own kitchen.
With their help, anyone can master one of the world’s most exciting cuisines.
If you’ve enjoyed learning about Japanese food, you may also appreciate these amazing Japanese toasters or learning about the best tea recipes, Japan’s favorite drink.