When dining at an izakaya in Japan, one is bound to notice the word shochu (pronounced show-chew) while glossing over the list of alcoholic beverages. Typically lesser known than the popular “sake” (which refers to nihonshu), shochu is a widely enjoyed versatile drink that is created through a fairly intricate brewing process.
Tea ceremony (called chadō or sadō) is one of Japan’s most enduring artistic traditions. Tea ceremony is a means to aesthetic appreciation and social interaction that has had a profound influence on other forms of Japanese art, cuisine and philosophy.
Kaiseki embodies the fundamental concepts in washoku, such as the attention to the seasons, and the emphasis on using natural local ingredients to create an eating experience that is not only delicious, but also demonstrates how preparation and execution of a meal can be an art form.
While the term literally means "Japanese food," in reality the term refers to a much broader and important cultural concept. In 2013, washoku was actually added to UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritages. The organization's explanation of washoku reveals why it is so much more than food, and why it deserves to be enshrined as an invaluable part of world culture.
When asked to explain in simple terms who Kitaoji Rosanjin is, you’ll struggle to find words to summarize the numerous and varied artistic accomplishments of someone with such an illustrious career.
When people are asked to think of a food or drink they associate with Japan, one of the first things that comes to mind is none other than sake, Japan's national beverage. Global consumption of sake has been growing steadily in recent years, and people around the world are coming to recognize its distinct qualities.
Japan’s emphasis on the natural form also has a significant influence on its gardens. While the idea of gardens was originally brought to Japan from China, over time it has evolved into an irreplaceable aspect of Japanese culture.
Wasabi (わさび), Japanese horseradish, is a root vegetable eaten with many Japanese dishes. Many of you have probably seen wasabi in the form of a finely grated green paste with your sushi, sashimi, or soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles). But did you know that even in Japan, most of the wasabi eaten is, in fact, not “real” wasabi? Then what have you been eating all along?
Although koi are the national fish of Japan, they are not a native species —they were brought to Japan from China in the 1st Century A.D. as a source of food. In fact, the earliest record of koi farming traces back to China in the 5th Century B.C. Koi has since spread its fins beyond Japan and is now loved by people around the world.
The word kimono (着物) was historically used as a general term to describe clothing, as it literally translates as “something to wear.” Today, the term specifically refers to the long garments that have become popularly recognized throughout the world as a symbol of Japanese traditional clothing.
The Mingei Movement focuses on the overlooked beauty of art and crafts made by average people that are practical and used in daily life. Mingei can also be seen as a response to Japan's rapid industrialization, as it elevates things made in large quantity by the hand's of the common people, rather than in a factory.
Japanese lacquerware and lacquerware production is known as urushi (pronounced “oo-roo-shee”). It is a word that can also refer to the lacquer itself, which is harvested from the sap of the urushi tree (lacquer tree). It culminates the beauty and elegance of Japanese aesthetics into practical objects, and it can be regarded as the pinnacle of Japanese craftsmanship.