Japanese Culture & Cuisine



The nuance of Japanese cuisine and preparation methods thereof have developed over a period of more than two thousand years, often the result of political and social upheavals. Today, Japanese food is well-known for its seasonal quality of ingredients and visual presentation.

Korea was a major influence sometime in 400 BC, their rice-growing techniques adopted by the Japanese during the Yayoi period (300 BC to 300 AD). Rice was not only used for food, but to produce paper, wine, fuel and building materials as well. In addition, Korea brought soy beans and wheat to Japan, both of which are still used in their cooking today.

Religion has also played an important part in the developing food culture of Japan. Buddhism became the country's official religion during the 6th century, when human consumption of meat and fish was prohibited. The Shinto religion had similar edicts, one of which established fowl as God's messengers sent to announce the coming dawn. Dairy products were not widely consumed in the Middle Ages. Cattle were instead used for plowing fields or pulling carts.

During the 9th-century, some of the typical cooking methods in Japan included grilling fish and meat (yakimono), simmering (nimono) and steaming (mushimono).Vegetable and meat-based soups were known as atsumono. Common dishes might be jellied fish (nikogori), raw fish in vinegar sauce (namasu), vegetables or fish with dressing (aemono) or pickled vegetables cured in salt (tsukemono).

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Similar to most ancient nations, Japan's culture has evolved in great measures from the Stone Age to the present. Their culturally rich society has much to offer the rest of the world, including unique insights into structural and garden architecture, cuisine, education, language, performing and visual arts, literature and technology.

ARCHITECTURE: There are a variety of building styles in Japan. Temple-building in Japan began in earnest after Buddhism was introduced in the 6th century. Most structures were built using wood, with emphasis placed on gravity (slanted roofs), horizontals, simplicity and sparse ornamentation. Today, Japan contains an appealing mixture of ancient and modern architectural design. Steel and concrete are used in conjunction with wood, especially in highly-populated urban areas such as Tokyo and Osaka.

Japanese Architecture

EDUCATION: Japan's education system played a crucial role in their economic recovery after World War II. Since 1947, education levels have consisted of six years in elementary school (Shogakko), three years in junior high (Chugakko), three years of high school (Kotogakko), and at least two to four years at university (Daigaku). Some children also attend kindergarten (Yochien).

LITERATURE: It is claimed the world's first fiction novel was written by medieval noblewoman and imperial lady-in-waiting Murasaki Shikibu. Her work Genji Monogatari ("The Tale of Genji") was written between the years 1000-1012. The three-part novel contains 1,100 pages and fifty-four chapters, prolific even by today's standards.

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