History of Japanese Cuisine

Japanese Culinary history has been greatly influences by its land form. It is made up of four large islands and thousands of smaller ones. The volcanic and mountainous terrain has lush forests with heavy rainfall, most of it are from monsoons. Land is scarce and so farm land is used predominantly for hunting (especially deer and wild boar) and gathering of food. This has led to marine recourse as being important Japanese culinary traditions.

In the third century BC, short grained rice was introduced to Japan. Population increased rapidly, and people started settling down in communities. Rice came to dominate Japanese cuisine and became an important for animal feed hence introducing more animal foods in the Japanese diet. Short grain rice is still a Japanese favorite.

unique feature of Japanese dietary history has been the country’s various taboos on meat eating. The first recorded decree prohibiting the eating of cattle, horses, dogs, monkeys, and chickens was issued by Emperor Temmu in A.D. 675.

The Chinese contributed soy sauce, tea and chopsticks to Japan. The oldest form of the noodles, sakubei, produced by adding rice powder to flour, was introduced from China in the eighth century.. In the sixth century when Buddhism, was made the official religion, meat was officially forbidden to the Japanese people, for the next 1200 years.

Then in the sixteenth century the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch, came to Japan and introduced fried foods, which is why the breaded, fried tempura seem so very un-Japanese; while the Japanese enjoyed this type of cooking, it was not something that evolved naturally. Tobacco, sugar and corn were also brought by the traders. At this time the use of meats and eggs became more acceptable. Fowls, until then, had been regarded in Shinto as God’s sacred messengers.

Japanese foods throughout its history have been influenced by a sense that food is an integral part of the rhythm of life. Traditionally, Japanese food is fresh, healthy, and low in fat. Food must satisfy all the senses by being prepared with great care and beautifully presented. The freshest ingredients are combined in ways that delight the eyes as well as the taste buds. Seasonings are generally very simple in order to enhance the natural flavors of the ingredients used.