Tempura (天ぷら) actually is not originally Japanese! It apparently comes from a Portuguese dish that was introduced in Japan a long time ago, I would assume by Catholic missionaries.
Try out this great recipe for Tempura Fried Okra from Guy Fieri. I don't know how you feel about celebrity chefs and the Food Network, but that is about all my wife and I watch on TV when we stay at a hotel. (By choice, we do not have cable or satellite TV at home, just a television screen and DVD player for movies. So when we stay at a hotel, we splurge on cooking shows, Iron Chef, etc.) We recently saw Guy Fieri make this recipe on Guy's Big Bite, and I tried it at home to spectacular reviews (all from my wife).