Japanese cuisine has never been as popular around the world as it is now. Sushi is available in the most unexpected places, and dishes like tempura, sashimi and teriyaki can be readily found, too. Japan itself is recognized as a mecca for great cuisine from all parts of the world, with the Michelin Red Guide awarding Tokyo more stars than any other city it surveys. The dedicated and enthusiastic diners of Japan's capital have attracted major international food franchises and famed chefs, who have opened branches of their establishments there at an ever-increasing rate in recent years.

Japan's pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 will feature a variety of Japanese food as a model of a sustainable, balanced and healthy diet aimed at alleviating food shortages and addressing ecology concerns. The pavilion will also allow visitors to sample some of the delicious and flavorful tastes that Japan offers.

Washoku, or traditional Japanese cuisine, which was given UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage designation in 2013, is what is often considered the only "authentic" Japanese cuisine. However, for most Japanese people the national diet also encompasses yoshoku, or Western dishes adapted to Japanese tastes, and chuuka, dishes of Chinese origin that have been similarly adapted. While washoku, yoshoku and chuuka may seem to differ from each other, there are common threads running through them all. First, is the importance placed on bringing out the best in the base ingredients and secondly, establishing a balance of flavors and textures. Finally, but perhaps most importantly, it is critical to pack each bite with umami. These common threads can be seen in three of the most popular Japanese dishes: soba, sushi and ramen.