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.
If you are planning a visit to Japan and wish to experience one of the heights of Japanese luxury and culture, including a trip to an onsen is highly recommended. Onsen (温泉) are naturally-occurring hot springs that are found throughout the island nation. Onsen are an incredibly relaxing way to enjoy one of Japan’s oldest and most popular traditions.
So you've decided to take part in a formal Japanese dinner, maybe at a tea house.Today's topic is probably the most important for our readers making plans to go to Japan: How to prepare for and participate in a geisha dinner. What should you wear? What will happen during the dinner? What interactions can you expect?
Believe it or not, the original geisha hardly resembled modern geisha in any way. The first geisha were actually male, appearing around the year 1730. It was only about 20 years later that female geisha began to appear in the forms of odoriko (踊り子, meaning dancers) and shamisen players, and they quickly took over the profession, dominating it by 1780.
Geisha, at the most fundamental level, are professional entertainers. They are trained in a variety of Japanese traditional arts, such as dancing, singing, flute, and shamisen (a traditional Japanese three-stringed instrument), as well as the art of hospitality. They also play games and engage in conversation with visitors, all in service of providing the most welcoming and intimate environment possible.
Previously, we talked about how to visit shrines and temples in Japan. This time, we are going to introduce how these sanctuaries give brief yet vivid glimpses into the everyday lives of the priests and monks who live there. Visiting a shrine or temple is a chance to experience a spiritually strengthening and cleansing practice unique to Japan.
When you arrive at the main area of the shrine or temple, what should you do? Perhaps drop a coin in the donation box? Then clap your hands and bow? Today's blog post will give you an introduction to Japanese shrines and temples so that the next time you visit, you'll know just what to do.
Do you remember making your first paper airplane or paper crane? Although commonly known in Japan today as a childhood pastime, origami (折り紙) has evolved into a major medium for artistic expression, with leading artists transforming simple geometric shapes into awe-inspiring imaginative forms.
There is something really exciting about taking a shapeless substance and transforming it into something unique, dynamic and brilliant. Perhaps this explains why, for thousands of years, extremely skilled and inspiring Japanese artisans have been transforming clay and other natural substances into extraordinary works of art.
Pleasure was serious business in 18th century Japan. It was so serious that even an expression was created to reflect its growing significance at the height of the Edo period (1615-1868). Ukiyo (“the floating world”) describes the hedonistic tastes and pleasure-seeking ambitions of the rising merchant class (chonin) in Edo (modern day Tokyo) and Kyoto.
This winter season in Japan welcomes a rare experience of traditional holiday events, food, and unique Japanese holiday cheer. Japan’s winter skies are crisp with sunny weather, making it the perfect time for sightseeing and taking breathtaking photos.
The three syllables that make up the word “kabuki” (歌舞伎), mean “music”, “dance”, and “acting”, respectively. The whole word itself comes from an archaic verb kabuki, which means “to incline”, and references the actors' flamboyant clothes and actions. Since the kabuki’s founding, spectators were well aware that this new type of theater would be a strong deviation from noh traditions.