Japanese Cuisine Evolution: Ancient to Modern

Written by on April 18th, 2019 // Filed under Blog

A Culinary Journey Down The Centuries

What composed ancient Japanese cuisine? It’s a banquet of meats and vegetables: there’s wild deer and boar, mushrooms, sudachi lime, ginger, sansho pepper, myoga, nuts, pears, fish, and shellfish. It was during the Muromachi period (1392-1573) that “washoku” or traditional Japanese cuisine took shape, and was consolidated from the year 1573 to 1615, known as the Momoyama period. The washoku was influenced by several factors: the extravagant imperial court feasts; Daikyo Ryori, types of Kyoto cuisine developed over the ages; the Heian period (794–1185)the peak of Buddhism and Taoism; the vegetarian diet of the 13th century Buddhist monks; and tea cuisine.

By the 16th century, the foundation principles of washoku, such as seasonality, presentation, and a meal comprising one soup, three side dishes (ichiju sansai). Examples of classic washoku dishes are vinegared food (sunomono), vegetables, fish dressed with vinegar, sesame, or miso (aeomono), and food boiled in dashi (nimono).

The Meiji Restoration (1868) wanted to build a stronger, more modern Japan, after the country was closed to the outside world for hundreds of years. The centuries-long ban on eating meat was lifted, Western-style eating was encouraged, and Japanese chefs travelled abroad to study cooking. As a result new foods and beverages came, kitchen cars travelled everywhere spreading Western ingredients like milk, eggs and meat. housewives learned cooking in major cities. And as the economy boomed in the 1960s, there was more disposable income to spend on foreign tastes.

Western dishes are reinvented to suit Japanese tastes and styles. Menus have modern selections and are found from high-end restaurants to izakaya, family restaurants, and convenience stores.Today, Japanese homes cook a diverse array of cuisines, like gyoza, miso, curry rice, mabodofu, tonkatsu, and soba. For visitors visiting Japan, they will find sushi, tempura, kaiseki, yakitori, ramen, and udon. These changes were only introduced within the last 100 years or so.

The Japanese are good at taking foreign concepts and modifying them for Japanese tastes, and food is no exception.

Finding Old and Modern Delights in Federal Way

Taste tradition and modern when you come dining at K-Ton Japanese Restaurant in Federal Way. See great selections from our menus that, you can say, date back centuries but with a westernized appeal.