Somebody in Japan asked me the other day, “what is the English word for おかず?”


Do you know what “okazu” is? There is no direct translation for it, so I need to explain it! A Japanese meal usually consists of ごはん (gohan) and one or more おかず (okazu). ごはん is plain rice and おかず is something to go with gohan. Some dictionaries say “an accompanying dish” but this could be misleading because one of okazu is the main dish for the day in the Western standard. For instance, if we are having a steak, steak is the main dish in an English-speaking country but in Japan steak is an okazu and all the accompanying vegetables, potatoes, etc. are all okazu as well.


In Australia, kids will ask when they come home “what’s for dinner?” In Japan, the same question would be “okazu nani?” rather than “bangohan nani?”

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