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How to get your child to fall in love with Japanese food


So, you’ve just moved to Japan and want to get adventurous with the local cuisine, but your little one just can’t bear the thought of it?! Been there, done that — and I know I’m not the only one. At our first sushi-go-round dinner upon moving to Japan, when my son was just under two years old, he stuck to French fries and wouldn’t try even a bite of sushi. We knew it would take a bit of patience and practice, but we also knew it was essential to teach our children to adjust to the cuisine of our new home.

Conventional wisdom teaches parents to serve new foods multiple times to children, prepared different ways, and to understand that it might take many times before your child will even try a bite, let alone enjoy the new food. But, it can be difficult to get your children to love completely foreign food. 

Here are five practical ways through which you can increase the odds of your kid eating well in Japan despite being away from home.

1. Start small… and slow

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When recently chatting with a friend soon planning to move to Japan, I mentioned she should try to serve more rice at home now. It’s a staple of so many Japanese meals, it’s a reliable food my children will always eat, and it’s a good base from which to grow more adventurous about which foods the rice is topped with.

When a Japanese friend once saw me feeding rice to my baby daughter at lunch, she suggested mixing it with a bit of miso soup for a few reasons: It was easier to eat, it was more delicious and it helped get my baby get used to the flavors of Japanese foods.

The same general idea works with noodles. When restaurants offer us a set of children’s bowls and utensils, we would give our son some of the noodles from our ramen (noodle soup with meat and vegetables) — minus the soup. He’s since graduated to his own mini-bowl of ramen from the kids’ menu and eats everything along with the noodles.

2. Involve them in the obento-making process

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At my son’s kindergarten, children eat the school lunches three days a week, and parents send in an obento (packed lunch) on the other two days. It’s a chance for the children to both try new foods through the school and to enjoy their standby favorites from home.

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© Savvy Tokyo

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I always find putting a plate before my kids and telling them to eat it because that is all they are getting works well.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

This could work for adults as well!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Once children go to school, peer pressure would take care of this problem. This is not always something positive, but children feel naturally compelled to fit in and do as the rest of the group does. The kid may never like some things, but frequently the opposite situation happens and he will end up liking only Japanese style dishes.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

How easy and without any discussion they handled it earlier…lol You eat exactly that, what we worked for to give it to you, and if you don’t eat it now, you get the same disliked things some hours later until the plate is emptied, but if you eat it now, chances are high that the next meal is one you like better or even your favorite one. Sounds hard? Yes, it was, and btw. we all survived it then and now.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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