Understand Japanese food labels

You don’t have much experience in the Japanese language, but do you need to understand the labels of the products and foods you buy? In this article, we will teach you how to translate and understand Japanese labels, their nutritional information, ingredients, etc.

For simplicity, our partner Santana made a video showing the basics of food labels. You can watch the video, and then we have a long table with all the information for you to understand the labels.

Words on food labels

It may be necessary that you have a basic knowledge of nihongo, we have prepared this table with all the vocabulary found on food labels.

Japanese  Hiragana Romaji English Notes / Where to find
種類別名称 しゅるいべつめいしょう shuruibetsumeishou Product type, classification At the beginning of a tag
名称 めいしょう meishou Name, product type At the beginning of the label
種類別 しゅるいべつ shuruibetsu Classification -
種類 しゅるい shurui Type / Category 種類 + 別 means classification
商品名 しょうひんめい shouhinmei Product’s name At the beginning of the label
品名 ひんめい hinmei Product’s name At the beginning of the label
商品 しょうひん shouhin Goods / belonging 商品 + 名 means product / brand
原材料名 げんざいりょうめい genzairyoumei       Ingredients Somewhere right after “名称” or “種類別”
内容量 ないようりょう naiyouryou Amount Under 原材料名, but sometimes elsewhere
内容 ないよう naiyou Content /
substance
内容 + 量 is the quantity
of that item, substance.
りょう ryou Amount 内容 + 量 is the quantity
of that item, substance.
賞味期限 しょうみきげん shoumikigen Expiration date
消費期限 しょうひきげん shouhikigen Expiration date
保存方法 ほぞんほうほう hozonhouhou Preservation method / After open Listed after the above information.
保存 ほぞん hozon Preservation
方法 ほうほう houhou Method
主要栄養成分 しゅようえいようせいぶん shuyoueiyouseibun The main nutritional components Listed at the top of the nutrition information section
栄養成分 えいようせいぶん eiyouseibun Nutritional information
栄養成分表示 えいようせいぶんひょうじ eiyouseibunhyouji Nutritional information
主要 しゅよう shuyou Main / main
栄養 えいよう eiyou Nutrition
成分 せいぶん seibun Ingredients
表示 ひょうじ hyouji List / chart
産地 さんち sanchi Production center / growth area / origin Used to indicate the item's origin.
原産国名 げんさんこくめい gensankokumei Country of origin Found in imported products.
国産 こくさん kokusan Domestic product Used in domestic products
さん san Source
加工年月日 かこうねんがっぴ kakounengappi Processing / manufacturing date In seafood / meat / things that are cut
養殖 ようしょく youshoku Aquaculture / Fish You will see this in fish and seafood
解凍 かいとう kaitou Defrosted or previously frozen Often seen on
seafood or meat label
加熱用 かねつよう kanetsuyou Add heat (cook before eating) In seafood / meat
刺身用 さしみよう sashimiyou Can be used for sashimi In seafood / meat
生食用 なましょくよう namashokuyou Can be eaten raw / fresh In seafood / meat
味付 あじつけ ajitsuke Seasoned In seafood / meat
地鶏 じどり jidori Open air In chickens and poultry
当たり あたり atari “For” or “for” 1 箱 (100g) 当たり (100g per box)
はこ hako Cashier 1 箱 (100g) 当たり
パック - pakku Package 1 パック (100ml) 当たり (100ml per pack)
ーほん, ーぼん, ーぽん -hon, -bon, -pon Counter for cylindrical and long objects 1本 (53g) 当たり
ko General accountant 1 箱 (100g) 当たり

Vocabulary of Nutritional Information

The following information is listed in the "Nutrition facts table" or "nutrition facts". It usually mentions calories and basic nutrients. Occasionally, several vitamins and minerals will be listed.

Japanese Hiragana Romaji English Grades
エネルギー - enerugii Energy or calories
熱量 ねつりょう netsuryou Calories
たんぱく質 たんぱくしつ tanpakushitsu Protein Or “タンパク質” or “たん白質”
炭水化物 たんすいかぶつ tansuikabutsu Carbohydrates / Carbohydrates
ナトリウム - natoriumu Sodium
脂質 ししつ shishitsu Fat
カルシウム - karushiumu Calcium
糖類 とうるい tourui Sugar (Nutritionally.) Common sugar is “砂糖” Satou
てつ tetsu Iron
亜鉛 あえん aen Zinc
葉酸 ようさん yousan Folic acid
食物繊維 しょくもつせんい shokumotsuseni Dietary fiber
ビタミン__ bitamin _ Vitamin __ Vitamin (A, B, C, etc.)
食塩相当量 しょくえんとうそうりょう shokuentousouryou Sodium chloride  amount of salt

Nutritional information

If you are allergic to anything, the products usually tell you about some food allergens. You can see this by looking directly at the ingredients, or some foods even have their own table stating common allergen ingredients like eggs and milk. Below I will leave a small table with vocabulary of some food allergens.

Japanese Romaji English
卵 (たまご) tamago Egg
乳 (ちち or にゅう) chichi or nyuu Milk / dairy products
小麦 (こむぎ) komugi Wheat
そば under the Soba (buckwheat)
落花生 (らっかせい) rakkasei Peanuts / Nuts
えび ebi Shrimp
かに kani Crab
あわび arabi abalone
いか ika Squid
いくら ikura Salmon roe
オレンジ orenji Orange
キウイフルーツ kiuifuruutsu Kiwi
牛肉 (ぎゅうにく) gyuuniku Beef
くるみ kurumi Nuts
さけ sake Sake
さば saba Horsetail
大豆 (だいず) daizu Soy
鶏肉 (けいにく) keiniku Chicken
豚肉 (ぶたにく) butaniku Pig
まつたけ matsutake Mushrooms.
もも momo Peach
やまいも yamaimo Yam
りんご ringo Apple
ゼラチン zerachin Gelatine
バナナ banana Banana

I hope the tables have served and help everyone. Thank you for visiting our website! We appreciate the shares and comments.

source: survivingnjapan

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