Food Education

Kikkoman Washoku Initiative Part 3: In Praise of Japanese Cuisine

April 1, 2016

Kikkoman's washoku panel discussion; from left: H. Kakizawa, T. Takahashi, H. Nakahigashi, Y. Takahashi and N. Yanagihara

In December 2015, Kikkoman sponsored a panel discussion in Tokyo titled, "Praising the Appeal of Japanese Cuisine: Washoku is Wonderful! Part 3," in which four young chefs of Japanese cuisine participated. This event was first held in 2013, when "washoku traditional dietary cultures of the Japanese" were added to UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list. This third iteration of the Kikkoman washoku forum involved panelists from both previous sessions, including Mr. Takuji Takahashi of Kinobu; Mr. Hisato Nakahigashi of Miyamasou; Mr. Yoshihiro Takahashi of Hyotei; and Mr. Naoyuki Yanagihara of Kinsa-ryu Yanagihara School of Traditional Japanese Cuisine. The panel was led by coordinator Mr. Hitoshi Kakizawa, and included discussion on the theme, "The future of washoku domestically and internationally—how washoku will evolve."

Panelists focused on Japanese cuisine overseas, and they touched on their observations and experiences during Expo Milano 2015. One talking point, also demonstrated at the Expo event, was that washoku places particular emphasis upon the appropriate selection of ingredients. The chefs reflected on how they choose local ingredients and determine cooking methods in order to retain the essence and appeal of authentic Japanese food. They also considered other topics, including: techniques that create various food textures by using specific knives for each ingredient; how Japanese dietary culture appreciates fresh fish; and how the characteristics of Japanese cuisine reflect and express nature and its seasons.

Comments by the panelists made it clear that, by participating in events in Milan during the Expo, and through a variety of other overseas activities, they strongly recognize that Japanese cuisine is spreading worldwide, and that overseas culinary students have a high level of interest and competency to learn Japanese washoku techniques.

In closing this event, participants shared the following concepts: washoku must be passed on, building on the knowledge of previous generations; to work on washoku laboriously is to prepare it with care for the sake of those who taste it; and washoku generates pleasant times and touching moments through food-related communications. This final concept is based on the notion that washoku produces wa, a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere, through shoku, food. With washoku characterized by such concepts, we must continue to convey it to future generations.

Some days following their panel discussion, the four chefs held a series of cooking classes under the theme, "Washoku dishes we want to pass down." Among their topics, they examined how such washoku dishes should be presented, and how they should reflect a sense of the seasons. Through dialogue and cooking class opportunities such as these, Kikkoman hopes to create a chance to discover—and rediscover—the appeal of washoku.

Kikkoman is committed to promoting the international exchange of food cultures as part of its management philosophy. The company supports the tradition of Japanese food culture by communicating its appeal both domestically and internationally, and so contributes to the rich and varied global food culture.