I know this isn’t about dessert, but while researching Japanese confectionary, I've had this on my mind.
The first things they always teach you in a foreign language are how to greet people, how to introduce yourself, how to count, how to tell time, and how to talk about your schedule. But it seems to me that, when traveling, you don’t need to know a lot of these things. When you’re traveling, you think about what you’re going to eat, and how much things cost. If you’re squeamish, you think about whether or not there’s going to be something you’re willing to eat.
While I enjoy going to Japanese restaurants, and prefer the more authentic ones, I have to admit that a lot of authentic Japanese food horrifies me. So here’s my guide to Japanese food kanji, if you want to read the Japanese text beneath the English on your menu, or perhaps if you’re in a restaurant in Japan with no translations.
What you might want to eat:
茶 cha – tea
酒 sake – alcoholic beverage
飯 (go)han – cooked rice
握り寿司 nigiri zushi – hand-formed sushi (usually rice with fish on top).
巻き寿司 maki zushi – rolled sushi
刺身 sashimi – sliced raw food, usually fish and vegetables
漬物 tsukemono – Japanese pickles
牛 gyuu – beef
鳥 tori – poultry
豚 buta, ton - pork
蕎麦 soba – buckwheat noodles
饂飩 udon – wheat noodles
ラーメン (not actually kanji) ramen noodles
パン pan – bread
揚 a(ge)- deep-fried
焼 yaki- grilled
鍋 nabe -cooked in a pot
和菓子 wagashi – Japanese confectionary
餅 mochi – rice cake
What you might not want to eat:
烏賊 ika - squid
鰻 unagi - eel
蛸 tako – octopus
熟れ寿司 narezushi – old-fashioned fermented sushi
活き造り ikizukuri – live sashimi
馬刺し basashi – raw horsemeat sashimi
塩辛 konowata – pickled marine animal innards
I’m going to especially memorize that last one.