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Terms can be chaotic. Let's discuss to define them here!

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

The Unique History of Japanese Diet - part1


Japanese diet in the history is often considered as lacto-ovo-vegetarian and shojin-vegan in Kamakura era. That was from Tenmu Emperor order the meat diet prohibition 肉食禁止令 in 675, and they tried to avoid hunting and farming animals to eat, because Emperors had to have people engaged more on farming plants, especially rice. However, people still hunted and ate game meat, including Zen monks who was eating meat once in a while with excuses that the meat happened to be in front of them and they had no intention to kill animals to eat. And Japanese people, of course, never stopped consuming seafood from the ocean. They also developed healthy diet in the way of eating a lot of vegetables, seafood, and just a little amount of meat along the line.

Washoku 和食 is based on the culture compared to Yoshoku 洋食, European influenced Japanese food after Meiji Restoration around 1867. Since then, Japanese diet has become more and more meat centric still with good amount of vegetables and rice. That cannot be called Washoku, but Nihon-shoku 日本食.

Now all kinds of Japanese food all around the world, and definition of the basic terms are crucial. Starting from Sushi 寿司, Sashimi 刺身, Kaiseki Ryori 懐石料理&会席料理, Shojin Ryori 精進料理, Omakse お任せ, etc. that we use daily to express styles and menus in food service, I will write their history, concept, philosophy, and potential to be adapted in new generations.

If you have passion and good knowledge about this topic, please put your comment below. I will update this writing time to time, also include the information in a post that is related to it.

Thank you very much!


-Youji Iwakura



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Youji Iwakura
Youji Iwakura
04 oct. 2020

Richard, thank you for your comment. While we will move our discussion about this to WR cafe, let me speak a little bit about Edo-mae sushi. There were three styles, Kenuki-sushi 毛抜鮓, Yosei-sushi 与兵衛寿司, and Matsuga-sushi 松が鮨 (Is it interesting enough already to see different characters for sushi are used? I believe they are meant to be). Yohei and Matsuga are the ones for what people know about sushi, yet they had to do "shikomi"仕込み to be able to serve fish as sushi because they didn't have refrigerator. Sushi took a lot of "shikomi"仕込み and tema 手間 so it was luxury before these two men started Haya-zushi 早ずし = quick-hand sushi. Their sushi were still luxury enough for them to…


J'aime

Hi all. Question for the group: My impression is that many Japanese staple dishes that existed before the Meiji restoration underwent very significant evolution over the last 150 years. For example, when one eats fish topped sushi today there is an enormous emphasis of making sure that the fish is a fresh as possible. However, 150 years ago refrigeration wasn't nearly as good...


So, at the most basic level, does Edo style sushi count as Washoku?

J'aime
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