Japanese cooking is generally less time-consuming than Western cooking. For one thing, Japanese cooking traditionally doesn’t utilize ovens. There isn’t a lot of baking or roasting going on in your average kitchen; and while some dishes may require more preparation time, the actual cooking time is relatively brief. The main denominator in determining how much time is spent at the stove is stir frying, an art that Japan got from China, so in that regard the most important implement in the Japanese kitchen is the fry pan.
To someone who is serious about cooking, a fry pan is an important investment in terms of both money and effort. Most chefs will say that iron is the optimum material, since it’s better at distributing heat and retains the nutritional value and flavor of the materials being cooked more efficiently. However, iron fry pans are also a lot of work since they have to be cared for. You can’t wash them with regular dishwashing detergent. You have to maintain them with oil so that over time the pan becomes “seasoned,” and its utility improves. If you burn something in your iron fry pan you can actually ruin it, since it may take a long time to return it to its former condition.