Food is one of the main ways I keep alive the memories I make wherever I go. I made friends over bowls and plates of food. In Japan I learned how much more there is to Japanese cuisine than just raw fish over rice. Some of my favorite and least favorite dishes are below. Holidays are coming and I will at some point in the near future add a similar post about Romanian food which is all kinds of different, but for now you can drool over Japanese food.
I used to hate fish and any fish-related food growing up. Japan definitely turned me, partly because sushi and sashimi are such a big part of Japan's food identity and you'll find good and cheap fish pretty much everywhere (supermarket sushi is actually something to crave, not avoid out of fear of ending up in the hospital). Restaurants where you get your sushi delivered on conveyor belts are one of Japan's main contributions to civilization.
It's unfortunate that a great many people associate the word with the instant packets or cup noodles, because having a proper bowl can be a divine experience, particularly if slightly sloshed. It's in many ways the equivalent of grabbing a kebab on your way back home from the pub.
Japan took a British classic and, for whatever reason, made it sweet (incidentally, I don't think there's a single spicy dish in the entire repertoire. Holler if I'm wrong). Not something I'd recommend, really.
Kansai has the best food
The region around Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe boasts not only the funniest accent in the country, one which comedians sometimes emulate simply because it makes them sound funnier than they actually are, but also arguably the most delicious food, and the standouts are okonomiyaki and to a lesser extent takoyaki.
The one thing I will always remember is how on one of my first days, my friend Hala taught me that after the meal you can simply pick up the bowl and gulp it down, which in itself is such a small thing. But every miso soup I've had since has reminded me of this tiny episode and of Hala. To me that's the essence of food (besides getting you fat).
Battered & fried pork (not unlike the Wiener Schnitzel but soggier due to the soy sauce) with egg, served on top of a bowl of rice. I don't know what to add to this except that it probably takes some hours off your life. Well worth it, though.
Nattō is a traditional dish made of fermented soybeans. It has the consistency of boogers and the smell and taste of vomit. You either love it or hate it. Guess where I stand.