Japanese breakfast at ryokan

Ryokan Japanese Breakfast

Ryokan stays are fully catered affairs. All your meals are taken care of (except lunch, since you arrive at around 3-4 pm) and everything is included in the price. We woke up bright and early during a winter morning’s day in Hokkaido and went for their elaborate and filling Japanese breakfast. It was truly a feast of epic proportions!

Japanese Breakfast

The personalized menu was printed on a sheet of slick paper and the tables were all set and ready for us when the kimono clad girl led us to our seats. This is a very nice touch, they had asked yesterday during check-in what we wanted for our drinks (choice of various local fruit juices) so it was freshly squeezed and waiting when we walked in at the stipulated time.


This is a Japanese style breakfast, which is centered around rice, grilled fish, pickles (tsukemono), tofu, eggs, salad, vegetables, natto and miso soup. It had all the components of a traditional breakfast and more!

Japanese Salad

The salad has become a fixture in breakfast tables around Japan and they’ve adopted it as their own now. This is the seasonal salad (旬のさらだ) which has daikon as its base, supplemented by vegetables tossed in a very Japanese style ginger and sesame dressing. I like it, it’s a nice and refreshing way to start off this heavy meal.


Next up is the homemade tofu (自家製豆腐) which comes in a beautifully creamy white custard. It was nestled in a lidded container and the staff told us to eat it with a special mirin based sauce they had provided in a tiny miniature jar. I’m not a huge fan of tofu but I understand it’s an important protein source in Japan.


The pickled ume (梅干し) is another traditional Japanese side. I love eating plum with rice! It’s so tangy and the sour plum goes very well with the sticky Hokkaido rice they provided. There are bento boxes called Hinomaru bento (日の丸弁当) which is just rice with one (1) Japanese salt plum in the middle, made to look like the Japanese flag. I can’t imagine eating rice with just ume before I came to Japan but I know it’s delicious now. My better half doesn’t like it though. No worries, more plum for me! smirk

Onsen Egg

There is a special hot spring egg (温泉卵) that’s still in its shell, which is very apt, considering we were staying at Jozankei Onsen. The onsen egg has been softly boiled so just the whites are semi-solid. The yolk is still perfectly liquid and this makes it an ideal partner for your rice. You can crack the egg on top of your rice and mix it up like tamago kake gohan.

Tamago Kake Gohan

Japanese eggs are so good, you can even get a raw one from 7-Eleven and crack it onto hot rice. It’s lovely stuff. This egg has a soy based sauce to go with it too. Yum!


The grilled fish (焼き魚) and rolled egg (玉子焼き) are the main components of breakfast. We had Japanese salmon and there is a personal mini hot plate on top of your table where you can grill the fish to reheat it.

Personal Grill

It’s ingenious! The surface has been oiled so you just need to put your fish on top for a few seconds before it warms up.

Grilling Salmon

They even provide a short length of spring onion so you can put it at the bottom to impart a bit of flavor to the salmon. It was lovely and I enjoyed eating every bit of fish.

Rolled Egg

You can heat up the rolled egg too, it’s slightly sweet and very fluffy.

Breakfast Sashimi

There is also a dish in a box (箱物) which has several sides and appetizers to go with your breakfast. The sashimi platter (お造り) is filled with fish and squid. The squid was slightly tough to eat raw but had tons of flavor. There are also containers filled with boiled spinach (法蓮草のおひたし), kelp (昆布), nine grains and beans (九穀豆) and salted cod roe (たらこ) as sides for your rice. The tarako (salted egg roe) was particularly delicious – the umami goodness can’t be beat!

Japanese Breakfast Sides

The Hokkaido style natto (なっとう) is one of the highlights – you’re supposed to mix it with rice. I ate it on its own though and it was delicious! I like the sticky gooey texture of fermented soybeans. I don’t see what the fuss is all about.


There are also two sheets of nori still in their paper packaging for you to use as you see fit (it’s good in rice or miso soup). The miso soup was really good as well, as to be expected in Japan.

Japanese Fruits

Desserts consisted of seasonal fruits (季節のふるーつ). There is a local grapefruit which was surprisingly sweet (always thought grapefruit was more sour than this) and a piece of pineapple. Yup, I didn’t know Japan grew pineapples but they do! It’s not as good as back home though (obviously) but that’s the only thing that missed the mark.

Ryokan Breakfast

The Japanese style breakfast was very filling and the ryokan really subscribes to the “Eat breakfast like a king” mantra. It’s way too much food for two people and I must have missed quite a few items that they thoughtfully provided as sides or appetizers. The service was excellent too and this delicious local breakfast was the perfect way to send us off. Our ryokan experience with onsen and kaiseki dinner was truly amazing and we loved every moment of it! 🙂

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20 thoughts on “Japanese breakfast at ryokan”

  1. this is a really nice change from the typical western hotel breakfast spreads … even though part of it feels more like lunch/dinner than brekkie! love the look of the salmon and the egg 😀

    • Yeah, this was a very heavy breakfast! 🙂

      However, it really was a nice change from the usual English/American style breakfasts you get a hotels though. It’s fun to eat a truly Japanese breakfast with all local ingredients.

    • Yup, there was a lot of stuff on offer! 🙂

      We’re not used to eating rice for breakfast too, but I know some of the more traditional families do it in Sibu. I heard often from my classmates about breakfast with rice but it was never like that for our family, so this is interesting.

  2. I am really waiting for a chance to fly to Japan for the authentic Japanese meals…the set breakfast is so complete just like lunch and dinner.

    • Yeah, we’re looking forward to going back again! 🙂

      The plan is to fly back end of the year, this time to Kyoto (which is further south from Hokkaido).

    • Me too! 🙂

      This is Hokkaido grown white rice, it’s very nice to eat by itself. I’ve never been a huge fan of Japan (coz I didn’t know what I was missing) but now that I’ve been, I want to go back again! We have a trip planned for end of the year, this time to Kyoto.

    • Me too! 🙂

      I love raw eggs in hot rice, it’s not something many people in US and Australia eat (coz they scared of salmonella) but actually I think it’s coz their processes are too dirty. Japanese processes are MUCH cleaner so a lot of things you can’t eat raw in the US (like chicken) you have no problems eating raw in Japan.

    • Yeah, the ryokan is a super nice experience! 🙂

      We’re heading to Kyoto again at the end of the year. It’s famous for ryokans too but I think we’ll do other things this time, like go to Uji for their matcha. There are too many things to do in Japan, can’t finish in one trip, even though we went for 7 days.

    • Indeed! You can eat a lot of different things. 🙂

      It’s like the omakaze sushiya experience. My better half thought she wouldn’t be able to eat 13 pieces of sushi by herself but she had no problems with that in Japan. She could even eat more. I ate 19 + 2 and I can eat maybe twice that, no problems.

  3. I love to eat the sticky gooey natto. You did not take a close up photo of the natto? Very delicious breakfast! What a fun way to heat up the salmon and the egg.

  4. You, Sir, have my utmost respect for enjoying natto. Haha! I tried some in an onigiri and didn’t quite enjoy it. The method to reheat the fish is most novel and interesting. Haven’t seen that one before.

  5. I really love this type of breakfast in Japanese style which is often well balanced in right portions. Their eggs are always the best in any styles they cooked or boiled them. Thanks for writing so detailed with explanations and bold words to catch my eyes!

    Both of you really look like a perfect match loving couple in the photo.

  6. So many components in the breakfast set! I always a greedy person when come to breakfast, this Japanese style breakfast really suit me & hopefully I have chance to try it!


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