A Dictionary of Japanese Food: Ingredients & Culture by Richard Hosking
Not so much a dictionary as a small encyclopedia, as Japanese food terms are not only defined in English, but also copiously annotated and explained, making this book a good overall introduction to the Japanese cuisine. That quality is enhanced by the 17 appendices which focus on important elements of Japanese cuisine, from explanations how sake is made, or miso, to articles on umami and sushi.
World Food Japan by John Frederick Ashburne
Excellent, concise introduction to Japanese food and drink, from ingredients to types of restaurants, and from regional dishes to seasonal foods. Foodies should carry this with them to Japan, together with Hosking's Dictionary of Japanese Food (Tsuji's book is a bit too heavy, but be sure to read it before leaving home).
Modern Japanese Cuisine: Food, Power and National Identity by Katarzyna J. Cwiertka
With "Modern Japanese Cuisine: Food, Power and National Identity" Katarzyna J. Cwiertka has written one the best books about Japanese food culture I know. It is much more than the title says: this essay is not only about modern cuisine, that is to say how the Japanese came to eat meat and other outlandish dishes, but much more importantly, it reveals how Japanese food as such was defined. Like many other “typically Japanese” cultural experiences, washoku, the “traditional” Japanese cuisine was only devised in the late 19th - 20th century, after Japan opened its gates to the world. Take rice, which is still considered as an almost sacred, Ur-Japanese basic food: in pre-modern times rice was only eaten by a few percent of the population, the upper classes, the rest – including those who cultivated it – could not afford it. Farmers paid their taxes in rice and only in very good years could they eat some of it, mixed with other grains and vegetables – and that was not the present-day white rice.
Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World by Theodore C. Bestor
Absorbing ethnographic study of Tsukiji in Tokyo, the world's largest seafood market. A jewel of a book that explains the complex social institutions behind Tsukiji's hundreds of morning auctions. Bester portrays Tsukiji's rich internal culture, its central place in Japanese cuisine and the mercantile traditions that have shaped it since the 17th c. Bester shows how the fish market is a combination of (free) marketplace and binding customs that inhibit total competition (much like Japan's economy at large). In this way, Bester in fact provides a powerful analysis of the everyday workings of Japanese culture. "Tsukiji, the Fish Market at the Center of the World" is an academic book, but with a twist, for in an appendix the author provides a tourist guide to Tsukiji as well.
And although the fish market has now moved to a new location in Toyosu, in more sense than one it remains "Tsukiji."