BLOGJapanese food column2019.02.08

Open the world through Washoku (Japanese cuisine)

ByYoshihiro Murata

The era of cuisines and flavors without borders has started.

The world is really getting closer now. I think the world used to be the size of a ball but now it looks the size of a golf ball.
I feel that information distribution has been developed and cuisines and flavors become internationalized.
I have been involved in the Japan Culinary Academy (JCA) for a long time. The academy contributes to hand down Washoku culture through generations and to make Japanese people reconsider it. In addition, it promotes global understanding of Washoku through various activities such as international chef exchange programs.
For example, we published JCA's complete Japanese cuisine to disseminate correct information of Washoku through the world. The four volumes have been released in three languages: Japanese, English, and Italian for international chefs up to now.
Washoku draws a great attention all over the world. There are many reasons for Washoku's popularity, for example, healthiness, cherishing seasonality, beautiful presence including tableware, rich flavors, and perfect fusion of beauty and deliciousness. I flatter myself that JCA's steady activities have greatly been contributed to this.

What can we do for supporting Washoku internationalization?

Since Washoku was designated as an UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013, the number of Japanese restaurants has steadily been increasing abroad. There were 56 thousand Japanese restaurants in countries other than Japan before the designation. Now the number became 123 thousand. Due to shortage of mentors, many of them serve the dishes that we think "they are not Washoku".
Some people think "Such restaurants shouldn't keep running, should they?". Although this makes a lot of sense, I think those who become interested in Washoku and start making it are very valuable and I appreciate their attitude. Therefore, I now think of them like growing a Bonsai (art of pruning and training a potted tree). I hope to grow them a large tree first instead of performing detailed pruning. Washoku culture in each place should greatly be developed first and then if there is something wrong with their developments, we can visit there and help to correct them like teaching them how to prune.

I hope that the buds of Japanese cuisine will grow easily and fast in the world.

In order to foster international chefs who can teach authentic Washoku, JCA offers courses for foreigners to invite Japan to learn Washoku while working. I think it was a brilliant idea that we made this offer only in Kyoto city so that foreigners can work in authentic Japanese restaurants. I want to foster excellent Washoku chefs as many as possible and I wish them to plant Washoku seeds through the world.
The basic principle of the academy is "There are no boundaries to passion towards cuisines". I also agree on this principle.
I feel that Washoku becomes international and we are facing in the era of opening a new passage for Washoku. I hope to find those who are passionate about Washoku and hope to open a Washoku restaurant in their countries, and to help their steady development around the world like smoothly growing buds of Washoku to become a large tree. I will watch over your development in a relaxed manner. If necessary, I will visit you to prune your tree with a pair of gardening shears.
Now, when looking into internationalized Washoku and its future, what can be valuable for Washoku?
In the next feature, I'm going to talk in accordance with the theme "Things that can open the future of Washoku".


■ Kikunoi (main restaurant)

459 Shimokawara-cho, Yasakatoriimae-sagaru,
Shimokawara-dori, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

Yoshihiro Murata

Awarded with "Gendai no Meiko" ("Contemporary Master Craftsman") and "Kyoto-fu Sangyo Korosha" ("Kyoto Prefecture Industry Distinguished Service") in 2012, "Kyoto-fu Bunka Korosho" ("Kyoto Prefecture Culture Distinguished Service Award") in 2013, and with "Chiiki Bunka Korosha" ("Regional Person of Cultural Merit ") in 2014.

Editors' Choice

Editors' Choice

At ryotei, it is possible to experience the aesthetic beauty of “quiet” with the five senses in each space, including the decorations in both tatami-mat rooms and floored rooms, the garden scenery, the movements of the hostess and waitresses, and the colors of seasonal moods. With regard to “cuisine,” it is possible to experience the aesthetic beauty of “movement” as you watch the food preparation and presentation process before your eyes while you sit at the counter, observing the actions of the head chef and his first and second assistants. In this segment, we introduce ryotei and cuisine selected from among restaurants that Kyoto CHISHIN editing staff have actually visited and where we can guarantee you will be able to “experience the beauty aesthetic of quiet and movement.”