Japanese Asagohan – Is Japanese brekky Big?

July 17, 2011 Juju Kurihara 4 Comments

A friend was in a conference in Madrid and later told me about how awful the breakfast there was. Then we started talking about breakfast in different places.

He insisted that the breakfast served in the bars in Madrid is horrible. I won´t argue with that. First, for me the food is design, the presentation is quite important because I believe that you enjoy the food visually, too.

Once a housemate back then wanted to have a dinner with only a candle light and she lit a few candles. For her it´d make a nice intimate atmosphere (not with me in this case) and I can agree with it, however I couldn´t taste a thing and as another housemate felt the same, we had to ask the girl to switch the light on. The girl thought we two didn´t appreciate the mood but we simply needed to see what we were eating to enjoy the taste. 


Yes, breakfast.

I love breakfast, probably the most favorite dish in the day. To have a good start, it cannot be unpleasant. So when my friend commented about horrible brekky in Madrid, I immediately thought about Japanese breakfast I ate most of the time at home.

ryokanAnyone who has stayed in ryokan (旅館/Japanese style hotels) may know that Japanese breakfast is huge. And most of ryokan even bring you this to your room. You might think that this is special because you are in ryokan.

It´s not necessarily you are in a hotel.

nattouUsually we eat quite heavy one and it´s savoury.  A bowl of rice of course, miso soup, seaweed and a grilled fish. And for me, nattou (納豆/fermented soybeans) is indispensable.

This natto is a quite controversial not between Japanese and foreigners but also between Japanese. To be honest it stinks and has a slimy taste. No wonder people hate this and I wouldn´t dare insist anyone to eat this if they don´t want to.

Inside Japan, in western part people don´t tend to eat natto, although I´ve heard there are some hidden natto-lovers over there. But I must say that if you can´t like this, you are missing a good bit of the life, hahaha. I mean, I love natto.




So the breakfast in my parents´ house would be like this, more or less.

Of course we eat other things. Some may have only a coffee, some have toasts or cereal, or perhaps just fruits and yoghurt.



toastWhen I was little, I hated the morning my mum served me a toast. It was a normal white bread with margarine which always gave me a gagging. I don´t know why but I couldn´t swallow it.

So, my parents changed toasts to corn flakes which was even worse.

corn flakesAs a kid, I was a slow eater. I would be distracted by anything and forget about eating.

What happens to the corn flakes after soaking in the milk about 3 minutes?

They all go soaky and become a flop of light brown stuff and I couldn´t even smell it.

Oh, how many times I cried for not needing to eat that thingy. By the way, I still can´t eat corn flakes with milk.


BF spain

So how is Spanish brekky then? Like this,

The croissant isn´t a croissant as far as I know of. It´s a dough in a croissant shape. It doesn´t taste butter nor has that light crunchy texture.

And look! A fork is stuck in the middle of the croissant!

Actually, this hadn´t happened to me when I had a breakfast in the bars. But this, I don´t see any love for the clients. Oh, if you like a warm one, you can ask them to toast. But as they only have a sandwich griller, your croissant will come out flat. Well at least you´ll get a warm one.

bf catalan

Let´s try to wipe a disgrace of Spanish breakfast. In Cataluña, it´s common to rub fresh tomato on the bread. OK, this looks more cheerful compare to the one above which looks all gray and sad.

Yet, something missing. It´s always the same, little option to me. A baguett, tomato and cheese and jammon, or both. I can have this for a while than I will need more variety.


croissantThen someone said about French breakfast. The typical one that we (at least I think), croissant and café au lait.

Comparing to the Spanish croissant, it was so good that I had them every morning while I was staying then, if it was every day, I would get bored after a few weeks.



Discovery of kippers in England was great. Nishin is the name in Japanese and it was one of my favorite fish. I like it a half dry, just grill it and a few drops of soy source. Hmmm, nice.

Unfortunately as I didn´t have a rice cooker in England, nor I had no energy cooking rice first in the morning, most of the time I had skipper with bread but it´s OK, I liked it. I even tried mackerel sandwich there.


Porridge was another my favorite brekky during the winter. A spoonful of honey and some fruits didn´t bore me. I guess because it´s similar to Japanese rice porridge that you can mix with different veggies as a topping.


You may think I just like fish and rice, but no. I think I like Japanese breakfast better because of its variety.

curry rice

Basically we eat anything, most of the time the leftover from the night before. If we have curry for dinner, we eat curry rice for the breakfast.



katsucurryIf it was tonkatsu (とんかつ), we have tonkatsu in the morning. My mother often made a little bit of curry so that she could eat katsu curry in the morning.

I can understand that many people don´t have breakfast or even those who eat will find this too heavy to eat as soon as you wake up. I don´t blame you. I don´t know how I was managing this for years. 


Mind you, I´m not good at waking up early in the morning. I was always half sleep,did everything automatically and most of the time I didn´t even know what I was eating. Even that, after having a sip of warm miso soup quickly ran through the vein and kicked my dreamy brain. I love listening to the sound of my mum cutting some veggie for miso soup in the morning. The sound of morning in Japan, the sound I heard in my bed every morning. 

My parents still keep this tradition, a big breakfast whereas I don´t. Now my breakfast has changed into muesli, fruits and yoghurt. It´s good and I like it but just because this friend made a comment about breakfast, it reminded me how good Japanese breakfast is. Now I´m looking at my muesli bowl. Since when my breakfast has converted into just one bowl?


  1. Eva 4 years Reply

    Hi Juju,
    Start planning your next trip to Spain =)
    I agree croissants in Spain aren’t as good as French ones however, I have eaten some amazing ones in Barcelona that were as good as the best ones I’ve had while living in France. As per my experience in Madrid, it’s better to opt for a more “traditional” Spanish breakfast as bread with iberic ham – this is a Spanish delicatessen – and, paired with orange juice and a coffee it’s the perfect breakfast.
    Said this, I love Japanese gastronomy and I want to implement Japanese breakfast in my daily routine as I believe it’s healthier. Plus, I still dream about the one I had in a ryokan in Yamanouchi ^.^
    Feel free to write me if you ever plan a trip to spain, I can share some good restaurants for you to try and I am confident you will end up updating this post.
    Have a lovely day!
    Eva from sal-pimienta.com

    • Juju Kurihara 4 years

      Hi Eva,

      Oh, well. But there are other good food there 🙂

  2. Jordi Ferré 11 years Reply

    Good morning!

    Just two clarifications about what you’ve said about spanish breakfast.

    First, spanish people in general won’t consider breakfast the most important meal of the day (for them it’s lunch), so it’s logical breakfast won’t be so much… tasty? This is because a lot of them just take some coffe, or maybe a toast or any pastry (as the croissant you mentioned and that in general is awful). By the way, the fork on this croissant is put there as a lot of people “cut” the croissant with fork and knife before eating, or use the fork not to finish with sticky fingers. I’ve to say the “poresentation” is really awful, but here the food aspect is much less important that in Japan to limits of be almost totally unimportant.

    Second, in Catalonia is more usual to made an “entrepà” for breakfast. This as you have said is a bagette with tomato, but not as on the photo. The tomato is put on the bread more or less like butter (more difficult to explain that to do). And the content isn’t only cheese or jammon (cured ham), but any kind of cold meat, cheese, and even tuna or other more strange foods

    • juju.kurihara 11 years

      Thank you, Jordi. To tell you the truth, my big discovery in Spain was ColaCao for breakfast. I loved it so much that I even bought it when I lived in Australia which costed me like AU$ 9 for the smallest bottle. I remember at the beginning I tried all the bakery in the centre of Madrid for a good croissant. I did find a few shops but then thought, why I´m trying? If I love croissant so much, I should live in France. Yes, I can see that for Spanish people, breakfast isn´t as important as lunch. Just a cultural difference and my motto is “Do as Roman do when you are in Rome”.

      As for Cataluña, in general they seem to care about the presentation of the food more. I hear so many times that the food is better in the north part of Spain. I actually liked the way they put tomato on the bread. Not only it was refreshing but also it takes the dryness of the bread. “More strange foods”… hahaha, I like to try strange food.

      Now, I shall make my brekky, a bowl of fruits, muesli and yoghurt…

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