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Japan is an island nation made up of an archipelago of more than 6,000 islands that stretch
for more than 1,500 miles and situated in the Pacific Ocean and off the coast of mainland
Asia. Although there are thousands of island, 97% of the land area are from the four largest
islands, which are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. The vast majority of Japanese people
are also concentrated on these big islands.
The islands of Japan are located in a volcanic zone with harsh climatic and geographical
condition. More than 70% of Japan land area is forested, mountainous, and unsuitable for
agricultural, industrial, or residential use. Japan has a predominantly temperate climate
that varies greatly from the north to the south. In the northernmost region, long, cold
winters and cool summers are the norm. The southernmost region meanwhile has a subtropical
climate with warm winters and hot summers.
From this hash condition, the principles of simplicity, seasonality and harmony with nature
are to be found throughout the country cuisine. Japanese cuisines are also influence by
factors such as outside influence, religion and historic periods of isolation. Being a
homogeneous society, Japanese cuisine does not have regional variations compare to many
other countries cuisines. There are also not many differences between the local ingredients
and styles among the island nation. Much of Japanese cuisine characteristic can be traced to
the significant period of isolation and nationalism that Japan experienced for the last few
centuries, which resulted in more of a national cuisine than a regional one. The period of
isolation have caused the country’s cuisine to develop largely internally and uniquely
different from the other countries in many ways and put greater focus on seasonal
The Japanese diet until recently is primarily rice-based cuisine with side dishes of seafood
and vegetables which are eaten after being steamed or pickled. Rice is the staple food in
Japan and almost every meal consist of rice as the main dish and nearly everything is eaten
with chopstick. Buddhism or Shinto are the belief of most Japanese and had resulted in a
culinary belief about the sacredness of animals. As such, meats were normally excluded in
the Japanese diet until recent times. As an island nation with an abundance of algae growths
in its surrounding waters, seaweeds had become an important ingredient in Japanese cuisine.
Seaweeds are most commonly use in a dried form after reconstitution in many Japanese recipes.
Another main vegetable in the Japanese cuisines is soybeans. Soybeans are not eaten in its
original form but are processed to produce tofu, tempeh, soy sauce, miso, soy nuts, and in
their fresh form, edamame(immature soybeans).
Japanese cuisine was also influenced by European nations during their period of exploration
in the 16th century. This has brought about the introduction of the same ingredients that
were spreading across Europe from the Americas such as jaga-imo(potatoes),
satsuma-imo(sweet potatoes), pman(chilies), and tomorokoshi(corn). Another significant
contribution to the Japanese cuisine around this time was the method of battering and deep
frying foods by the Portuguese. The Japanese later refined this method into the world famous
tempura cooking style, as we know today. This period of exploration was followed by about
three century-long period of isolation that had greatly influenced the development of the
current Japanese cuisine. During this period, Japanese cuisine developed much of the
refinement that characterizes it today, making it unique compare to other parts of the
world with almost no spices used in its cooking.
Japanese cooking emphasize on the use of the most natural and freshest ingredients available.
There are very little processing or alteration done to the ingredients in order to maintain
and highlight their natural taste and flavor as the Japanese consider eating as another way
in connecting with nature. As such, the principles of following seasons, bringing
into the kitchen, and appreciating simplicity and authenticity have come to characterize
the Japanese cuisine.
The Japanese also consider food presentation as another very important aspect in food
preparation and are consider master in the techniques, and expertise with regard to
garnishes and elaborate presentations. Japanese dishes are usually presented in attractive
ways and in small pieces. The majority of dishes are presented simply and beautifully, and
each item is usually presented separately, including sauces.
Japanese Easy Recipes List :