Washoku: the food culture based on respect for nature and essential Japanese spirit

Washoku: the food culture based on respect for nature and essential Japanese spirit
30/03/2022 Chiaki
In Column, General

What do you think about when you hear Japanese food like sushi, ramen, tenpura, yakitori. These are famous around the world. Japanese food was registered as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage in 2013 as “Washoku”.


“Washoku” has 4 characteristics


1. Diverse, fresh ingredients, and respect for their individual flavors.

Japan is surrounded by the sea, clarity of the four seasons, filled in nature, and dishes that makes the most of the natural taste of the ingredients.


2. Nutritional balance to support a healthy diet.

The basic composition of “washoku” is a combination of rice, soup, and two or three kinds of side dishes using fish, vegetables, soybean products, and more.

Japanese food uses soy sauce and miso, which are fish broth named “dashi” and fermented foods, and don’t use animal products.

The basic composition of Japanese food has a good nutritional balance, so it helps to longevity and prevent the obesity of Japanese people.


3. Expression of the beauty of nature and the changing seasons.

There are four seasons in Japan: spring, summer, autumn and winter. In the Netherlands, white asparagus is an ingredient that can only be eaten in spring.

Also, Japan has a lot of seasonal food. “Washoku” has a culture of enjoying the season using such seasonal food.

In addition, “washoku” dishes are decorated with seasonal flowers such as cherry blossoms, autumn leaves, and guests are entertained with tableware
and interior decorations that match the season.


4. Intimate linkage with New Year and other annual festivals.

Like eating Kerststol at Christmas in the Netherlands, in Japan, there are annual events to eat Osechi and Zoni on New Year’s Day and sakura mochi in spring.

Japan has many festivals and annual events, and through event food, “washoku” create bonds not only with families but also with local people.

“Washoku” has been connected to people through cooking methods that respect nature and draw out the natural flavor of ingredients, decoration that expresses the beauty of nature, food coordinate and events.

In the future, “Washoku” will connect the people of Japan and other countries globally more than ever before.