Formation of Japanese cuisine and Japanese Food from 800 AD onwards

Period
(Western calendar)
Events
— 1000 Yamakage Fujiwara, who was a gourmet, was in service to the gourmand Emperor Koukou -> Created lot of dishes, called the father of cuisine Banquets called “Daikyo” become popular with the nobility (for New Year, promotion etc. celebrations)
— 1350 Samurai Period
Zen Buddhism is brought into the country, Shojin cuisine is born within temples
— 1600 Honzen cuisine is born, it is a lavish ritualistic feast to celebrate the samurai clans People tried to outdo each other in cooking skills, the composition of Japanese cuisine is nearly complete Tea varieties and method of preparation has been handed down from China, Tea ceremony is born -> Kaiseki cuisine is born, which takes the Shojin cuisine and Honzen cuisine Interaction with various foreign countries ->potatoes, squash, tempura, chili peppers, bread, biscuits were handed down
— 1870 Honzen cuisine, which places importance on preparation, is placed at a respectful distance, Kaiseki cuisine is born where tea is removed from Kaiseki cuisine and dishes are placed at the forefront and sake is enjoyed Local production is developed due to the daimyo mandatory changing residences, local cuisine is also developed.

Around 1000AD, Emperor Koukou, who became emperor in the first half of the Heian period, was a gastronome, and is said to have wielded a knife himself and cooked. In addition, he worried unceasingly about people’s eating habits, and had the highest regard for cuisine. Yamakage Fujiwara was the one who collected the dishes and recipes that Emperor Koukou researched in order to hand it to future generations. Yamakage Fujiwara is regarded as the “Father of Japanese cuisine”. In addition, around this time, it can be said that the nobility are also the pattern of Japanese cuisine. Daikyo cuisine was born that was served in court banquets called “Daikyo”. These were special opportunities to treat people for the emperor’s enthronement, as a celebration for a promotion in status, or for the New Year celebration etc. Daikyo cuisine is simple cuisine such as namasu (raw fish and vegetables seasoned with vinegar), meat stew, dried fish or fowl and the like, and where each guest flavors it with salt or vinegar to their liking before eating. In addition, the food preparation was strict because the act of eating is considered to be connected with the gods and holds ritualistic significance.

Around 1350, was the start of the samurai period. Samurai ate simple fare with unpolished rice. In addition, samurai who were going into battle, ate onigiri rice balls, dried fish, dried abalone, dried vegetables and seaweed and they used salt, miso and the like for seasoning.

Interaction with China was thriving. Zen Buddhism was brought by Eisai and Dogen and others, and in the Buddhist temples Shojin cuisine (vegetarian) was born. Shojin cuisine has the style of dishes brought out during tea ceremonies in Buddhist temples. With the spread of Zen, gradually, along with the custom of drinking tea, vegetarian cuisine was adopted in everyday life. Originally, in order for the Buddhists to strive for a discipline without wickedness, they adopted simple fare as their motto, and at present it remains the food during memorial services and as temple food. In addition to meat and fish, the so-called “Five Pungent Roots,” garlic, onions, green onions, leeks, and chives, were prohibited. Their diets centered around bean products such as tofu and tofu skin, vegetables, seaweed, and grains. Cooking methods such as boiling, adding dressing, and deep-frying with oil became popular, and they have come to be able to add flavor. In particular, miso soup, sesame seed cooking etc. became widespread.

Around 1600’s, the varieties of food multiplied, in particular, along with the increase of rice harvest, rice-based dishes became widespread. In addition, recipes and seasoning became widespread. As a celebratory ritual, samurai would make Honzen cuisine. Honzen cuisine is ceremonial cuisine in order to reaffirm the master-servant relationship between the Shogun and Daimyo. In order to visually display the importance of the entertainment, they outdo one another at its lavishness. Flavorings used in Honzen cuisine are close to the ones we currently use, such as bonito and kombu, and it offers a multitude of dishes such as soups, stews, and grilled dishes. The number of trays and the plates offered on top of them are basically in odd numbers of 3, 5 or 7. During the Edo period, the lavish Honzen cuisine became simpler. Just like below, in the Honzen (the tray offered at the very beginning) and the Ni-no-zen (the second offered tray), 2 soups and 5 greens (*2) were offered and came to be called Fukusa cuisine, which we now usually call “Honzen cuisine.”

*2. It is composed of 2 kinds of soups and 5 kinds of side dishes. The rice and pickled vegetables are not counted. In the same manner, 1 soup and 3 greens is 1 type of soup with 3 kinds of side dishes. The rice and pickled vegetables are not counted.

Honzen: rice, soup, pickled vegetables, namasu (raw fish seasoned with vinegar), tsubo (A container with a lid. Where stew ingredients and dressed food are placed.)
Ni-no-zen: 2 soups, hira (flat bowls, where stew is placed), choko (small containers, where soy-flavored boiled greens are placed), grilled food.

Around 1350, the custom of drinking tea was handed down to Japan from China. That is why,  in this time, it was generally widespread, and tea ceremonies started to become fashionable. People came to enjoy dishes and tea while doing tea-tasting contests where the name of the tea being drunk was guessed, and appreciating the tea implements; Chakaiseki cuisine (Cuisine served with tea) flourished. Removing the limitation of ingredients in the preparation of Honzen and Shojin cuisine, a sense of season was expressed through seasonal ingredients while remaining simple, the colors of the arranged food and the presentation of the vessels, ornaments, etc. places more importance on the visual elements, and a huge change can be seen in the serving of warm dishes.

Around this time, soy sauce was born, and sugar, which until then had only really been used as medicine, started to become widespread. In addition, interaction with foreign countries, such as Spain, Portugal, Holland etc.  became common. Watermelon, chili peppers, squash, potatoes, tempura, castella sponge cake, bread etc. were assimilated.

Around 1870, it can be said that the current form of Japanese cuisine was more or less completely achieved during this period. Regional ingredients and the like, were donated to the Shogun of Tokyo, and regional production was also developed, giving birth to local cuisine which very diverse. Honzen cuisine, which places heavy emphasis on the method of preparation, became the much more simplified Fukusa cuisine. Removing the tea from Kaiseki cuisine and placing more attention on cooking and delicious flavor, gave birth to Kaiseki cuisine where sake is enjoyed. Each person’s own ideas and sense of taste and aesthetics is pursued, and banquets where food is just one source of amusement, became places of social interaction.

There was a huge fire in Edo (Tokyo) in 1657. After this fire, the first cooking shop was established. Since then many high-class cooking shops were erected and the food culture was developed.