The perfect way to wake up for Japanese people

By Momoko

‘Tong,tong,tong…’ I hear the sound of my mom chopping green onions. I want to sleep some more…Spring is still a little cold in Northern Japan and it’s so tempting to roll over and snuggle into my blankets. However if I don’t get up now I’ll be going to school hungry. The sounds from the kitchen assure me that what’s waiting downstairs is worth it. As I stumble over to the dresser and try to find matching socks, the smell of miso starts to revive my brain. The comfortable sounds lure me down to the table and I stare at the familiar pattern of my mom’s apron as she finishes pouring the miso soup.

This is the typical image of a contented morning for Japanese people. When I was a child, I woke up just like this every morning, and Mom’s breakfast always gave me energy for the day.

Breakfast is considered an important part of a healthy life in Japan.

Here is an example of a typical traditional Japanese breakfast that I made:

Home made Japanese breakfast

Breakfast always consists of various small portions of well-balanced side dishes.

The core of the meal is a bowl of rice, and a bowl of miso soup. We almost always eat rice plain. Grilled salmon is pretty typical. Other popular choices include rolled omelets, tsukemono (pickled vegetables), and natto (fermented soy beans). Natto is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing. It’s notoriously smelly and has a slimy texture (Japanese people are big on texture and tend to embrace slimy more than other cultures do. We even eat raw eggs). I also recommend having some nori, dried and seasoned seaweed. There’s a bit of a trick to eating this. Using our chopsticks, we pick up a thin sheet, lay it over our rice, then use the chopsticks to wrap it around and grab a mouthful of rice. This may seem more like a lunch or dinner, but to us it’s lighter and easy on the stomach.

The menu varies by region and personal preference of course. In recent years, we often have Western style breakfasts like toast, eggs, sausage and coffee as well. Young people or people living alone tend to prefer something quick and easy in the morning. But I still prefer a Japanese breakfast on a big day. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of my mom and encourages me.

And, it seems that it’s not just me. Check out this funny video by a small Japanese company that has invented an alarm clock to deliver an ideal awakening (complete with the smell of miso soup and the sound of a kitchen knife). I should get one!

Subtitles for the video;

The only alarm clock that wakes you with the smell of miso soup and the sound of a kitchen knife

JIKKA (parents’ home) + ALARM = JIKKALARM

It’s been three years since I left my parent’s home.

I’ve gotten used to work and this city.

But when I come back to this bleak room

I miss my parent’s home a little.


I just have to set the time and mode.

I’ll select “Mom” mode tomorrow (the other option is “Newlyweds” mode).

In the morning, the smell of miso soup and comfortable sounds of a kitchen knife wake me up.

It’s as if I’m in my parent’s home.

Have a good day.