history has been greatly influences by its land form. It
is made up of four large islands and thousands of smaller ones. The volcanic and
mountainous terrain has lush forests with heavy rainfall, most of it are from monsoons. Land is scarce and so farm land is used
predominantly for hunting (especially
deer and wild boar) and gathering of
food. This has led to marine recourse as being important Japanese culinary traditions.
In the third century
BC, short grained rice was introduced to Japan. Population increased rapidly, and people
started settling down in communities. Rice came to
dominate Japanese cuisine and became an important for animal feed hence introducing more
animal foods in the Japanese diet. Short grain
rice is still a Japanese favorite.
A unique feature of Japanese dietary
history has been the countrys various taboos on meat eating. The first recorded
decree prohibiting the eating of cattle, horses, dogs, monkeys, and chickens was issued by
Emperor Temmu in A.D. 675.
contributed soy sauce, tea and chopsticks to Japan. The oldest form of the noodles, sakubei,
produced by adding rice powder to flour, was introduced from China in the eighth century..
sixth century when Buddhism, was made the official religion, meat was officially forbidden
to the Japanese people, for the next 1200 years.
Then in the
sixteenth century the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch, came to Japan and introduced
fried foods, which is why the breaded, fried tempura seem so very un-Japanese; while the
Japanese enjoyed this type of cooking, it was not something that evolved naturally.
Tobacco, sugar and corn were also brought by the traders. At this time the use of meats
and eggs became more acceptable. Fowls, until then, had been regarded in Shinto
as Gods sacred messengers.
Japanese foods throughout its history have been
influenced by a sense that food is an integral part of the rhythm of life. Traditionally,
Japanese food is fresh, healthy, and low in fat. Food must satisfy all the senses by
being prepared with great care and beautifully presented. The freshest ingredients
are combined in ways that delight the eyes as well as the taste buds. Seasonings are
generally very simple in order to enhance the natural flavors of the ingredients used.