Almost all Japanese meals include tsukemono (pickles). The simplest and most basic meal is just a bowl of rice and a pickled plum (umeboshi), but tsukemono are also served at the most sophisticated and complex feasts.

Tsukemono are prepared in a number of ways with many different types of foods, fruit, vegetables, eggs, seeds, even fish. The varieties of tsukemono are endless, with literally thousands of types to choose from and hundreds of techniques for making them. Popular pickled vegetables include Chinese or nappa cabbage, daikon, carrots, bamboo, turnips, gobo (burdock root), ginger, Japanese cucumbers, and Japanese eggplant.

Tsukemono offer color, texture and aroma to a meal.The earliest known tsukemono were called konomono or "fragrant things" (well, maybe "smelly things"). Vegetable tsukemono are crisp and always fresh, with small amounts of several varieties usually served in small individual dishes. All types of tsukemono are available commercially but many people make pickles at home because it's so inexpensive and easy. Here are some recipes:

Kyabetsu to Ninjin no Asazuke (pickled cabbage and carrot)
Nuka-zuke (rice bran pickles)
Miso-zuke (miso pickles)