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Curry Rice (カレーライス): Japanese Style Curry

class japanese curry rice

Curry rice (カレーライス) is a common, and popular dish that is eaten throughout all of Japan.

Curry was originally introduced to Japan by the British, way back in the late 1800s. Taste and texture were slowly adapted to suit Japanese preferences, and it has since become one of the most popular foods in the entire country.

Japanese style curry is characterized by its much thicker texture (compared to Indian curry), and slightly sweet taste. Japan typically uses short-grained rice, while India would use long-grain rice.

Read on for more interesting info about Japanese curry rice:


beef curry rice japan
Classic Japanese curry made with beef, carrots, onions, and potatoes.

The main ingredients of Curry rice are:

  • Rice
  • Curry

You can find all sorts of ingredients used in Japanese curry rice. Popular meats used include beef, chicken, and pork. Typical vegetables include carrots, potato, onions, and mushrooms. You can also find various types of seafoods used.

Some other popular variations include katsu curry rice (i.e. deep fried pork or chicken cutlet with curry rice), and karaage curry (i.e. deep fried chicken pieces with curry and rice).


coco ichibanya
Coco Ichibanya is the most popular curry chain in Japan

Curry rice is found throughout all of Japan. It is a popular home-cooked meal, and can also be found in restaurants around the country. There are even some chain restaurants that specialize in Japanese curry. The most popular curry chain in Japan is probably Coco Ichibanya.

It is thought that Japanese style curry rice first originated as a military food, and was helped spread throughout Japan by soldiers who cooked it when they returned home.

Read on below for curry’s interesting history in Japan:

History / Origin of Japanese Curry rice

william smith clark japanese curry
William Smith Clark, one of the founding fathers of Japanese Curry Rice

Curry was first introduced to Japan in the mid-late 1800s by the British (who originally got it from India).

It is said that curry was first introduced in Yokohama, which was the main international port at the time. It was not immediately popular, as the dish had not yet been adapted to Japanese tastes.

In the 1870s, an American named William Smith Clark began working as the vice principal at Sapporo Agricultural College (currently Hokkaido University). Apparently, he did not allow students to eat rice, as it was not nutritious enough (compared to bread). The only rice dish he allowed was with curry! Clark is credited with popularizing curry rice, as well as introducing the use of potatoes into Japanese curry.

Also in the 1870s, curry rice began being served as a military food. It was easy to make in large quantities, and was also nutritious.

At the time beriberi (i.e. Thiamine deficiency) was a leading cause of death in the military. After introducing a frequent diet of curry, beriberi cases decreased dramatically.

After its success in the military, curry rice began to spread to the general population, including school lunches.

curry roux
Curry roux cubes made it super easy to make curry at home

In the 1950s, curry roux (i.e. instant curry powder / cubes) was invented. This made making curry at home very easy. This helped further popularize curry throughout Japan.

In the 1960s, retort packaged curry was invented. This made it even easier to prepare and enjoy delicious curry at home.

The popularity of curry continued to rise, and it is now considered as a “national food of Japan”.

Japanese Curry Rice Recipe

It is super easy to make Japanese curry rice if you have some curry roux cubes.

Simply simmer all your ingredients in a pot until soft, then mix in the curry cubes until they’re fully dissolved, and you’re done!

Instructions are typically on the back of the curry packaging you buy.

Here’s a simple video to follow if you’re struggling:

Here are some popular brands of Japanese curry cubes to buy (affiliate links):

Fun Facts


Curry rice is one of my go to dishes when I have no idea what to cook. It’s super easy to make, tasty and filling.

One time, I ate curry rice every day for a week because my friend and I couldn’t think of anything else to cook (and too tired/lazy). After that week I didn’t feel like eating curry for a while. 😂

Have you ever tried Japanese curry rice before? What did you think of it?

Leave your thoughts and comments below!

Chef Goku

Chef Goku

Chef Goku is the founder and sole operator of The Chef Dojo. He loves Japanese food, and has lived in and out of Japan for many years. He started this blog in 2018 to share everything he learns about Japanese food and cooking. He is also a self-certified Japanese knife nerd. Contact Chef Goku

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