12 of the Best Japanese Cookbooks

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Patricia Thang

Senior Contributor

Patricia Thang is an educator located in Los Angeles. Though a native Angeleno through and through, her heart also belongs to Tokyo, where much of her family is from. Besides books, she is an enthusiastic devourer of many things, including podcasts, television, and J-pop. She realizes there’s not enough time in the world to consume all of that content, but she’s trying anyway. Other endeavors to which she has dedicated herself include cuddling her dogs until they’re annoyed and taste-testing every vegan ice cream she can find. Twitter: @aintnopthang

Growing up as a mixed race, first generation Asian American, food was always a huge part of my identity and the strongest connection I had to both Japanese and Chinese culture. In particular, I was primarily raised on my Japanese mother’s cooking, and many of those dishes remain my favorites to this day. Japanese cuisine is special in its balance of simplicity and depth, usually focused on highlighting the natural flavors and complexities of its ingredients. I often hear that the idea of cooking Japanese food at home can feel intimidating for those who’ve mostly been exposed to it as a fancy restaurant meal, but once you’ve learned the basic techniques and recipes, Japanese home cooking is actually quite accessible and often quick! In this list, I’ve gathered together some of the best Japanese cookbooks from the past couple years (including some upcoming releases) that anyone can reference to make great, authentic Japanese food at home.

Best Japanese Cookbooks

Japanese Home Cooking by Sonoko SakaiJapanese Home Cooking: Simple Meals, Authentic Flavors by Sonoko Sakai

This cookbook by a veteran of the food industry is an essential guide to Japanese cuisine, focusing on the great care with which dishes and meals are composed from simple building blocks and traditional techniques.

Everyday Harumi by Harumi KuriharaEveryday Harumi by Harumi Kurihara

Harumi Kurihara is a widely beloved cooking expert in Japan, and even my mom’s repertoire is filled with her recipes and techniques. Her latest book contains over 60 homestyle recipes great for any occasion.

Food Artisans of Japan by Nancy Singleton HachisuFood Artisans of Japan by Nancy Singleton Hachisu

Though Nancy Singleton Hachisu is not herself of Japanese descent, in this book she introduces various chefs and artisans she has grown close to through decades of living within tight-knit communities in Japan. More than just a cookbook, Food Artisans of Japan delves into the individual crafts that make up Japanese culinary tradition.

The Just Bento Cookbook 2 by Makiko ItohThe Just Bento Cookbook 2: Make-Ahead, Easy, Healthy Lunches to Go by Makiko Itoh

This follow-up to the best-selling Just Bento Cookbook contains about 200 new recipes focused on quick and easy dishes, with bento ideas to please a wide variety of eaters.

The Real Japanese Izakaya Cookbook by Wataru YokotaThe Real Japanese Izakaya Cookbook: 120 Classic Bar Bites from Japan by Wataru Yokota

Izakaya are the Japanese equivalent of pubs or bars and serve a variety of small dishes that pair well with drinks like beer and sake. This book introduces many recipes for these simple dishes, and even provides tips for making the perfect drinks to serve alongside them.

Simply Hot Bots by Amy Kimoto-KahnSimply Hot Pots: A Complete Course in Japanese Nabemono and Other Asian One-Pot Meals by Amy Kimoto-Kahn

Nabe is one of my favorite comfort foods. Warm, delicious, and easy, these single-pot meals can be prepared in nearly infinite variations. This book has 75 different recipes using 15 base broths, covering a large range of flavors, and even including those inspired by other Asian cuisines.

Tofu Ryouri by Pat TokuyamaTofu Ryouri: Simple Japanese Tofu Recipes to Cook Healthier at Home by Pat Tokuyama

This nifty little cookbook is all about recipes using tofu, with a focus on health and environmentally conscious thinking. Most of the recipes are dairy-free, and a good chunk are also vegetarian-friendly.

Let's Make Ramen! by Hugh Amano and Sarah BecanLet’s Make Ramen! By Hugh Amano and Sarah Becan

Let’s Make Ramen! is both a comic and a cookbook, with playful and informative illustrations and recipes for a variety of different types of ramen. It also provides a simple overview of ramen’s history in Japan, along with tips and anecdotes, making for a fun, accessible read for beginners and more seasoned cooks alike.

Upcoming Japanese Cookbooks

Rika's Japanese Home Cooking by Rika YukimasaRika’s Modern Japanese Home Cooking: Simplifying Authentic Recipes by Rika Yukimasa (Rizzoli International Publications, March 10, 2020)

This upcoming title is the first U.S. publication from entrepreneur and food personality Rika Yukimasa. In it, she shares recipes using various simplified techniques and shortcuts for quick, no-fuss meals.

Real Bento by Kanae InoueReal Bento: Fresh and Easy Lunchbox Recipes from a Japanese Working Mom by Kanae Inoue (Tuttle Publishing, April 7, 2020)

This is another bento cookbook designed for busy families, full of time-saving tricks so you can still have healthy, delicious packed lunches without the need to give up valuable sleep time.

Harumi's Japanese Kitchen by Harumi KuriharaHarumi’s Japanese Kitchen by Harumi Kurihara (Conran, June 9, 2020)

I know I’ve already included an already-published Harumi Kurihara title above, but I couldn’t resist adding this upcoming book with even more new recipes.

Master of Ramen by Shuichi Kotani and Jet TilaMaster of Ramen: The Ultimate Guide to Making Restaurant-Worthy Noodles at Home by Shuichi Kotani and Jet Tila (Page Street Publishing, November 24, 2020)

Noodle expert Shuichi Kotani and celebrity chef Jet Tila join forces in this cookbook to make the perfect bowl of ramen accessible for home cooks everywhere. With a great variety of both traditional and unique recipes, ramen lovers will be able to expand their repertoire with exciting meals for every day of the week.

Now that you’re ready to get cooking, also be sure to check out these awesome cookbook stands to keep your recipes handy and hands-free!