Traditionally, Japanese cuisine has centered on rice with miso soup, and other local and seasonal ingredients are added. Other classics include noodles like soba and udon. Side dishes often contain some sort of fish and pickled vegetables or vegetables in broth. Fish is often simmered in broth as well (oden), and beef is simmered in sukiyaki or nikujaga. The country's culinary traditions have changed over the years due to economic changes and a shifting culture, and there are large regional variations among dishes.
When many people think of drinks in Japan, they think of sake. This Japanese staple is made of fermented rice with the bran polished out. It is considered "rice wine," but wine is made of fermented sugars that then become alcohol. Sake more closely resembles beer, which has its starch converted to sugars and then converted to alcohol. There are a wide variety of other drinks available in Japan, and you can even find hard liquors in some of the country's fascinating alcohol vending machines.