What is Washoku?

Washoku is Japanese food and too generalized to describe due to its diverse technique and regional differences. Japanese government, however, has defined Washoku as all the food and cooking technique that was developed in Japan including all the region foods and styles. Japanese people often call it Nohonshoku as well. There are various kinds and forms of Washoku here in Japan, so it is difficult even for Japanese people to define what Washoku is. Each area in Japan has their own traditional, seasonal, and regional dishes. In addition, sometimes foreign food and dishes have been developed by Japanese people in different way from the original one.

Listed on UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list

Washoku was registered as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage on December 4th in 2013. The nomination highlighted three features of washoku 1. various fresh ingredients, 2. balanced nutrition and 3. seasonal aesthetic presentation. Washoku/Nihonshoku is known as very healthy food and beautiful not only in its taste but also for appearance.
You may expect and have image like this picture when you hear Washoku/Nihonshoku, and these are traditional Japanese cuisine in general. People often eat in such styles when the meal has some special meaning or formal purposes. Also if you stay in Japanese-style hotel, you are likely to try this style. You can find various and many kinds of dishes, though each amount is small, so you can enjoy a lot of tastes.

Everyday dishes

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Traditionally Japanese people often eat rice with other tasty dishes for each meal, but various kinds of meals are included in Washoku in everyday life. “Donburi” implies a meal served in a bowl with any of a variety of other ingredients. For example, you can try Gyudon, a bowl of rice topped with stewed beef, with reasonable price in everywhere in Tokyo. Also you can taste Kaisendon, a bowl of rice topped with raw fishes, around Tsukiji in Tokyo, where you can also find many sushi restaurants. We have different types of noodles, such as Udon, Soba, Somen. Though you may think Ramen is also Japanese, it is from China historically and developed in Japanese way. It may be a little new style of Japanese food, but Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki are also popular recently. As in the same category as Okonimiyaki, Monjayaki is one of the noted foods in Tokyo. Especially the area of Tsukishima has a lot of Monjayaki restaurants.


Washoku has soft and less seasoning taste compared to other cuisines because it is intended to enjoy the real taste of ingredient itself. We recommend you to try to eat various kinds of Washoku in Japan and hope you will like them! In Tokyo you can find some restaurants which are characterized other area in Japan like Hokkaido or Okinawa, so you can enjoy regional dishes within Tokyo.

View Washoku Restaurants in Tokyo



1 Response

  1. hami2009 says:

    I didn’t realize how good washoku is until I moved to oversea. It is very well balanced and has many nutrition from variety of foods. I hope more washoku restaurant will open around my area because my family love to eat Japanese foods.

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