Beyond its long and fascinating background, the country of Japan is also home to a rich cultural history. Nowhere is this more apparent than in washoku, or its food culture. Read on to find out more about this unique tradition, listed by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
What Is Washoku?
Washoku as a concept consists not only of the traditional cuisine of Japan, but also the beautiful presentation and preparation of food. Subscribing to the idea of kaiseki, or hospitality through cuisine, washoku is similar to a tea ceremony: respectful, beautiful and appreciative. Rather than relating to a single dish, washoku can be anything from a traditional dish to a full-blown meal. The defining factor is how they serve the meal and what it consists of, with respect for nature and tradition. In general, you can expect to find a few key components when eating washoku: steamed rice, pickled vegetables, soup and a few main dishes such as fish or tofu.