If you are renting a Japanese home long-term or for a vacation, you may be feeling excited to cook with all the ingredients that you picked up from a local grocery store. You’ve chopped up the vegetables, seasoned the meat, and are now ready to cook.

While some people have never used one outside of Japan, gas stovetops are commonly used in Japan. Although stovetops aren’t too complicated, you may stumble upon some Japanese writing indicating the functions of the stove. Before using a gas kitchen stove, it’s best to learn about the buttons especially if this is your first time using one. After all, you just can’t be too careful when handling fire.

Turning on the kitchen stove

First, set the intensity level to high as a good amount of gas is needed to fire up the stove. Push on the button below the lever until the fire is on. You will hear a clicking sound while pushing this button. Then, you can adjust the intensity of the fire accordingly. If you happen to leave the pan on the fire with nothing in it, the sensor will react, and the fire intensity may automatically become lower than indicated on the lever. There is no need to worry and to think that the stove is malfunctioning. The sensor is activating correctly to keep the pan from not getting too hot.

The fish grill

A part of the gas stove that gives you the sense that you are cooking in a Japanese kitchen is that it has a fish grilling compartment. You will see the switch for the grill indicated as ‘グリル’ (Grill) with a fish symbol. To use the grill, just simply turn it on the same way as you would for the stovetop. Grilling fillets of salmon or a whole mackerel is absolutely delicious! Consider using some aluminum foil on the grill when cooking fish to make cleaning up easier. It would be a fun experience to cook up a Japanese style breakfast in the morning with some fish, rice, and miso soup.

Other information

One of the buttons on the stovetop has three fire symbols with the writing, ‘3秒押し高温炒め’ (3-sec push for high-temperature stir fry). Push this button for 3 seconds to keep the high temperature and not allow the sensor to turn down the heat at a certain point. This option is used by people who want to maintain the hot temperature for a stir-fry or when cooking tempura.

Intensity level

The intensity level of the fire is indicated by the writing, ‘弱’ (low), and ‘強’ (high). There is also a compartment for batteries which is needed for the signals to function. You can find it with the writing, ‘おしらせサイン’ (alert sign) and ‘乾電池単1形2個’ (2 D size batteries).

For those who are used to using electronic cooking stoves, you may feel surprised at how quickly the pan can get hot on a gas stove. Just remember that preheating a pan will take significantly less time and the intensity of the heat can be quickly adjusted too. If you are in Japan and have an opportunity to do some cooking, why not give it a go? Many visitors take this chance to grab a good quality wagyu steak from the grocery store and cook it to their preference. Try out local ingredients when you get the chance in Japan.