For those who don’t consume fish or meat, finding Japanese vegetarian or vegan options can be challenging. Fortunately, the Buddhist plant-based cuisine known asShōjin Ryōrihas been around for more than seven centuries and is a healthy yet simple ritual that nourishes the body and soul through food.
Momoe Nishimura, founder of Zen Eating share her meditative eating practices through food inspired by Japanese Zen Buddhism. She helps us ease our tension and to make our lives more enjoyable through eating.
Okinawa, a tropical island far away from mainland Japan, is often a go-to domestic travel destination to an exotic place. Surrounded by endless aqua blue water, Okinawa has 160 islands, of which only 40 are inhabited. Its year-round warm climate provides a home to indigenous subtropical plants and all living things from the sea to the forests. It is these surroundings that helped create Okinawa’s traditional food culture.
In Japan there are two types of dates commonly seen of food products: best before and expiration. Products often only have one of the two so it is best if you learn how to read the kanji for each type (賞味期限 = best before and 消費期限 = expiration).
The foundation of modern-day cuisine in Japan was heavily influenced by the customs developed during the Edo Era. A period of economic and social growth, people began eating three meals a day instead of two, while incorporating the holy trinity of Japanese flavor (soy sauce, mirin, and sake). Food stalls were also introduced to feed busy commoners on the go. While some practices diminished over time, many continue to thrive today.
In remembrance of the 10 year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, we sat down with Yagisawa Shoten, a ninth generation, over 200 year old family-owned producer in Iwate Prefecture. Yagisawa Shoten lost almost everything during the earthquake and tsunami and discussed how they have rebuilt and recovered, as well as their visions for the future.
In remembrance of the 10 year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, we sat down with Senrei, a local fishery and seafood company located in Onagawa Town in Miyagi Prefecture, to see how they and their community have rebuilt and recovered, and to hear about their visions for the future.
The Japanese tea ceremony (茶道, lit. "the way of tea") is a deeply important cultural tradition in Japan.Matcha (抹茶) takes center stage, being prepared and presented in precise steps and movements to show hospitality to guests while complying with formal etiquette.
There are two approaches:chano-yu(茶の湯), an event to treasure a once-in-a-life-time gathering, andsadō(茶道), a disciplinary practice to reflect and improve oneself. In addition to matcha, it’s the host’s duty to select sweets, tea bowls and art pieces (Eg. a hanging scroll and a single flower displayed in the room) associated with the theme and as a reflection of either the season, cultural event or Zen teaching.
Since the tea room is perceived as a sacred space, guests are expected to wear formal attire, take off any jewelry, and change into traditionaltabi (足袋)socks for the ceremony. Throughout the ceremony, guests practice etiquette, meditate their minds, learn seasonal events and nourish their five senses.
While urban migration and falling fertility rates are contributing to the declining agricultural industry in Japan, there are other complicated reasons that make revitalization difficult. These mainly include issues of landownership and the restrictions on farming organizations. Luckily, there seems to be some hope for the industry’s recovery with recent surges in investing and ideas about rural revitalization.
Our ideas about food (the foundation of life) truly shape the ways in which we live. And while there are many diets that take a philosophical or mindful approach to eating, there are few cuisines that embrace this concept as much asshōjin ryōri (精進料理.)
Like wine, Japanese teas are often paired alongside meals, snacks and sweets to enhance and complement flavors while providing a full taste experience. Out of the myriads of pairings available, here are some tea and food combinations we recommend.
For centuries, Hakone has been a destination for people to relax and enjoy its famousonsens (natural hot springs). Just over an hour away from Tokyo, it’s an easy getaway from the city and has numerous activities to enjoy including hiking, art museums, traditional craft-making and all its delicious local food. Enjoy these sties to see!
For centuries, Hakone has been a destination for people to relax and enjoy its famousonsens (natural hot springs). Just over an hour away from Tokyo, it’s an easy getaway from the city and has numerous activities to enjoy including hiking, art museums, traditional craft-making and all its delicious local food. Enjoy my afternoon food adventure!
For centuries, Hakone has been a destination for people to relax and enjoy its famous onsens (natural hot springs). Just over an hour away from Tokyo, it’s an easy getaway from the city and has numerous activities to enjoy including hiking, art museums, traditional craft-making and all its delicious local food. Enjoy my morning food adventure!
Kanagawa (神奈川), located on Honshu (本州) island, is the second largest prefecture in Japan. Bordering Tokyo to the south, it's home to beautiful landscapes, beaches, cities and religious sites, making it an ideal getaway for vacationers, tourists and locals.
Tea etiquette is vital in Japan: from the intricate details of the traditional tea ceremony to casually serving guests in your home. There are subtle rules, for the server and the guest, that have been passed down through generations and have become ingrained in Japanese tea culture.
Kyushu (九州) – Japan’s southernmost mainland island has arguably the most sought after and unique cuisine anywhere in Japan. This is due to a multitude of factors, but most importantly their Chinese immigrant influence, geothermal phenomenon, and historic availability of coastal and deep-sea fishing due to their numerous ports.
One of Japan’s most enjoyable, but at first intimidating, traditions is that of the onsen (温泉). A literal public naked bath, often times outdoors, is hailed for its mystifying rejuvenating and cleansing properties.