January 4, 2014

Washoku, traditional dietary cultures of the Japanese, notably for the celebration of New Year/和食;日本人の伝統的な食文化-正月を例として-

In December last year, Washoku was added to UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list. It's very important to note that Washoku as the traditional dietary cultures of the Japanese has been recognized as a cultural asset, not any particular Japanese foods or dishes.


The Nomination file no. 00869 for inscription in 2013 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity summarizes WASHOKU as follows:
WASHOKU is social practice based on a comprehensive set of skills, knowledge, practice and traditions related to the production, processing, preparation and consumption of food.


According to the leaflet introducing WASHOKU, published by the Government of Japan, WASHOKU has these four features:
Various fresh ingredients and using their natural tastes
Well-balanced and healthy diets
Emphasis of the beauty of nature in the presentation
Connecting to annual events

(To view the leaflet, go to this site first and then click the Japanese text below the leaflet image.)



Washoku video on YouTube, uploaded by UNESCO/ユネスコがアップしたYouTube上の和食ビデオ
Washoku video on YouTube, uploaded by kanteijp (prime minister's office)/kanteijp(首相官邸)がアップしたYouTube上の和食ビデオ


Fräulein Trude said...

I hope Japan will keep this culture alive. Better not switch too much to the western cuisine and eating behaviors (in my country many don't know how to cook a proper dish from scratch and buy lots of unhealthy convience food).

Hiroyuki said...

Kiki: I hope so, too, and I think that the traditional dietary cultures will live on, with some modifications to reflect the times. For instance, the custom of pounding mochi in each home, with a mortar and pestles, has almost died out even in rural areas, but the custom of eating mochi and o-zoni will never disappear.

Katy said...

Can you please do a post on making home made miso? Thank you!

Hiroyuki said...

Katy B: Sorry, but I can't! I've never made miso from scratch!

I'll ask my father how to make it the next time I see him.
He seems to be a good miso maker, as you can see here:

Katy said...

Ahh ok, thank you!

Arthur1414 said...

Ichiju Sansai, from the Prime Minister's video, is how I try to formulate my meals. Breakfast is often simpler, ichiju issai or ichiju nisai (sorry. those are fun for my to try in romaji).

Somehow, this ideal has permeated my understanding of meals. I try to tell my American friends (I'm a born and bred American). Most understand, but only a few share my joy over the concept.

I wonder, Hiroyuki, has any foreign cuisine captured you so? It seems to me that everyone somehow loves some foreign country or language. (Sorry. Have you answered this before?) Somehow, the Washuko cuisine of Japan is special to me.


Hiroyuki said...

Arthur: Long time no see, how have you been?

I don't think I have ever been "captured" deeply by any foreign cuisines, except that I was kind of fascinated by French cuisine when I was young. Now that I'm older, I feel that Japanese cuisine suits me the best.

okasan said...


Hiroyuki said...

osakan: あけましておめでとうございます。面白かったですか?それはよかった!

Sissi said...

Happy New Year, Hiroyuki san! This is a very interesting post. I must admit I don't know much about washoku dishes and they are I think the least known part of Japanese cuisine.
Did you know that French full meal is on the same list? As a concept.
I have just read your answer to Arthur's question. I thought that all the Japanese are crazy about Italian cuisine ;-)

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi: Happy New Year, Sissi-san.
Yes, I know that French cuisine is on the list, so are turkish coffee culture and kimchi!

I think that French cuisine is regarded as a kind of haute cuisine in Japan, while Italian cuisine sounds more casual to most Japanese, as suggested by the word ita-meshi (ita = Italian meshi = cooked rice) イタ飯.

Sissi said...

I had no idea about Turkish coffee and kimchi.
French cuisine is much more difficult to cook, more complex, so I'm not surprised... Especially the modern French cuisine which is more sophisticated than Italian which seems still very traditional and homely, even in expensive restaurants in Italy.