Breakfast in Japan

In May 2000, we sent questionnaires to 5000 people who were registered in the category of Japan of our pen pal service and who indicated that they are willing to participate in surveys. We received 367 valid responses from Japanese people who live in Japan; 76% of them were female, 38% were students and 73% were below the age of thirty. In addition to the unbalance in age and gender, we must consider the fact that all survey participants are registered in an online international pen pal service, which may mean that they are overall more internationally and less traditionally oriented than the average Japanese.

The traditional Japanese breakfast differs fundamentally from the Western style one. A traditional Japanese breakfast consists basically of rice and miso soup. As many aspects of Japanese life style, also the breakfast culture has been Westernized heavily over the last 150 years.

According to our survey results, Western and Japanese breakfast styles are today more or less equally popular, with a large group of Japanese enjoying both styles. On our generalizing question whether one eats breakfast in a Japanese or Western style, 20% answered that they eat a Japanese style breakfast, and 24% answered that they eat a Western style breakfast. The largest group of 40% answered that they eat both, Japanese and Western style breakfasts. Another 13% indicated not to eat anything in the morning. The percentage of people eating a Western style breakfast is highest among company workers (28%) and people who prepare their breakfasts by themselves (34%). On the other hand, students (24%) and people whose breakfasts are prepared by their mothers (33%), more frequently enjoy a Japanese style breakfast.

The most popular Western style items on the breakfast menu are bread (63%), yogurt (35%), fried or boiled eggs (26%), jam (20%) and sausages or ham (19%). Most popular Japanese style items are rice (52%), miso soup (38%) and natto (21%). As for beverages, most popular choices are milk (35%), coffee (32%), green tea (31%) and English tea (21%). The percentage of coffee drinkers is with 44% much higher among company workers.

In another question we asked the survey participants how much time they invest in their daily breakfast. Again, around 12% indicated not to eat breakfast at all. 29% eat their breakfast in less than 10 minutes, 35% in between 10 to 15 minutes and the remaining 24% in over 15 minutes. Interesting is the result that 11.5% of the people eating a Western style breakfast wrap up their meal within five minutes. On the other hand, only 1.4% of the people eating Japanese style breakfasts eat that quickly.

Finally, according to the results of our last survey question an overwhelming majority of 72% watches television while eating breakfast. 27% read the newspaper, 23% have a conversation with somebody and 12% listens to the radio.

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