From sushi and noodles to yakitori and ramen, make this the year you get to grips with Japanese cuisine.

With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics coming up this summer, and Japanese cherry blossom season (set to kick off in March) as popular as ever, the East Asian country is topping a lot of people's 'must-visit' destination lists right now.

If you'd rather not grapple with hordes of people though, all trying to snap the perfect photo of frothy drifts of pale pink petals, you can enter into the spirit with a spot of Japanese cooking at home - and no, we're not talking wrangling with a plastic tray of supermarket sushi.

Here are just a few recently published Japanese cookbooks to consider, to help you get started. Chopsticks and ramen bowls at the ready...

1. The Japanese Table: Small plates for simple meals by Sofia Hellsten (Hardie Grant, £18)

If you're looking to know how to structure a Japanese meal at home, The Japanese Table by Swedish-born food writer, Sofia Hellsten, sets things out clearly, and quite beautifully. Revolving around the Japanese idea of 'ichijuu-sansai' meaning 'one soup, three dishes', she starts with the satisfying comfort of gohan - a simple bowl of white rice, before introducing umami-rich soups (miso, of course), and slightly larger accompaniments. There's sweet miso cod, yuzu aubergine, ginger-pickled Chinese leaf, as well as a whole section on different teas to serve too. Most importantly, she shares the art of making perfect, orange-yolk, soy-pickled eggs.

2. The Gaijin Cookbook: Japanese Recipes From a Chef, Father, Eater, and Lifelong Outsider by Ivan Okrin and Chris Ying (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, £23.99)

'Gaijin' means non-Japanese, or outsider, but while author Ivan Okrin might be a white, Jewish New Yorker, three decades spent living in Tokyo and a brace of ramen shops to his name make him a very trusted devotee to Japanese food. The cookbook applies Japanese recipes and twists to everyday problems and scenarios (kids to feed, mid-week dinners to throw together, friends to host, Sundays to spend in the kitchen...), so you can whip up Japanese spaghetti with tomato sauce (aka ketchup) and miso mushroom chilli, and feel sated, soothed, and pretty contented with yourself.

3. Tokyo Stories by Tim Anderson (Hardie Grant, £26)

Former MasterChef winner Tim Anderson, who runs London Japanese soul food restaurant Nanban, has just won a prestigious Andre Simon cookbook award for the hugely colourful and enticing Tokyo Stories. His next recipe collection, Vegan Japaneasy, is out in March, but you can pore over his culinary love letter to Tokyo until then. The bright pink pages are mesmeric, and you will find yourself desperate to make omurice - Japanese omelette over rice - and a strawberry kando (sandwich). Ultimate comfort food.

4. Food Artisans of Japan: Recipes and Stories by Nancy Singleton Hachisu (Hardie Grant, £25)

Recipes from seven chefs, bolstered by 24 stories from Japanese food artisans, this weighty tome considers a range of the country's prefectures and regional cuisines. Nancy Singleton Hachisu examines traditions and techniques through essays (like 'Fishermen's Wives And Sea Green'), interspersing them with detailed recipes that span high end and home style dining. Jump from fiddlehead ferns cooked in ash (to draw out the bitterness), to four hour caramelised turnips with parsley sauce, to the more humble duck broth soup with udon noodles.

5. Atsuko's Japanese Kitchen: Home Cooked Comfort Food Made Simple by Atsuko Ikeda (Ryland Peters & Small, £16.99)

For beginners, this practical guide to Japanese home cooking basics is ideal. Atsuko Ikeda will have you knocking up rustic gyoza, classic chicken teriyaki and crisp tempura, as well as okonomiyaki (a savoury shredded cabbage pancake style affair topped with flakes of dried tuna that 'dance' when they hit heat). Plus, she tells you how to present each dish and lay on a full Japanese spread. A book of handy culinary building blocks.