The History of Japanese food and cuisine plays a crucial role in Japanese culture and tradition, and a key part of the Japanese people’s everyday lives, but how did it actually come to be? When was first sushi conceived, & what is it that led to the complicated Japanese cuisine etiquette?

One of the first and foremost things you notice about a Japanese food meal is that traditionally all varieties of elements are distinguished into small dishes. It used to be considered bad form or idea to have all the food and cuisine in one particular bowl or on one food plate! 

 This is a particular dining style that actually originated in the Kamakura era, and it was actually adopted from the classical Chinese style of serving cuisine, and also the way Buddhist special tea ceremonies are served.

Origin of Japanese Food and Cuisine 

When we talk about Japanese history, every Japanese person either rich or poor has always eaten a diet of rice and fish. Many people around the world think that Japan is a fish-eating nation, but the reality is in 1920s Japan was about 90% vegetarian, & most people only ate fish on extreme festive occasions. 

Some people speculate this is because of Buddhist teachings, and some say it was merely a result of extreme poverty. In the 752 AD Empress Koken took a step further & banned all fishing. Hard to imagine in the Japan we all know today! 

But she also provides rice provisions to all the Japanese fishermen who had lost their basic livelihood through the ban. The next change for Japanese food and cuisine was during the majestic Kamakura period, where most individuals of the nobility fell to samurai rule & military rule from the poorer classes. 

Food and cuisine changed little in the region until Japanese trade opened up once more in the mid-19th century when the whole of Japan finally allowed the arrival of Western ships. 

This is the time when whiskey was first introduced to the country, although it was not well-known brewed until the late 1900s. The British had given the yummy dish of curry to Japan too, but that did not grow in popularity until the late 1960s.

Rice and Noodles in Japanese Cuisine 

noodles in a bowl with onion scallions

The variety of rice introduced in the country was short-grained, sticky, & is relatively sweet. To this day, the Japanese people don’t simply eat a long-grain variety of rice. 

Much of their food and cuisine is actually based on the tactile quality of the fresh rice that they use & the fact that the rice sticks together, making it effortless to pick it up with a chopstick. 

The respect & reverence afforded to Japanese rice is so good that it is not seasoned with spices or a mixture of sauces: It’s always white & boiled. Other food and cuisines may be included on top of rice, but the rice should be fresh and pure and bland to start with. 

This is a sort of respect for the natural rice flavor & aroma that the Japanese rice has on its own, as nature actually made it. The only traditional and cultural preparation of rice that alters the fresh rice dramatically is mochi, which is a little rice cake that is cooked by pounding steamed glutinous fresh rice with huge hammers. 

The idea behind this is to concentrate the pure Japanese spirit of the fresh rice and in cooking it purer, it’s an intensification; mochi is one of those cuisines you consume on New Year’s, as it is an extremely essential festival for Japanese people. 

Much the same can be said about the yummy sake. Even though it is considered as a corruption of original rice. But Sake plays a vital role in several religious festivals: It is the cuisine of the gods in the Shinto religion – it is important in the coronation of the great emperor.

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