Japanese food – washoku – has been named an intangible world heritage in 2013 for its rich traditions. These traditions have developed through the centuries. The Japanese diet is based on rice with miso soup and other dishes with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients. Fish and seafood feature heavy in the Japanese kitchen. Japanese eat their fish grilled, but also served raw as sashimi or in sushi.
The unknown sides of Japanese Food (washoku)
While Japanese rice-and-fish dish sushi (or its varieties from numerous other Asian countries) has become commonplace in most Western countries, many other items are virtually unknown outside Japan.
The Japanese cuisine is rich in vegetable dishes. For example, radish is a popular food in winter: You can simmer it or fry it instead of just eating it raw. Soy beans appear in numerous variations – skilled cooks make them into tofu, miso, soy sauce and much more.
A traditional home-cooked dinner consists of sometimes a dozen different dishes served in individual plates and bowls. There is no particular order in eating the dishes, and not all of them are even hot. Dessert sometimes is just a piece of fruit – or it could be a meal in itself.
Apart from traditional Japanese Food, washoku now includes also more modern items and fusion cuisine combining traditional Japanese food with Western food. And of course, there are also discoveries in “Western” cuisine. Japanese restaurants have recently achieved acclaim with more Michelin stars than even France. And Japanese whisky has become famous the world over! We have visited two Japanese whisky distilleries to see why.
But is washoku vegetarian-friendly? That depends on how strict you are. Many condiments contain small amounts of fish or meat extracts. Ignoring these, we never found it difficult to find delicious vegetarian food in Japan. And especially the Southern Islands of Okinawa are great for vegetarians.
NB: This travel blog post is not sponsored in any way. We have paid all expenses ourselves. The post does not contain any affiliate links.
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