In December 2013, "Washoku", the traditional dietary cultures of the Japanese people, was officially recognized as a UNESCO Instangible World Heritage. In recent years, Japan's diverse culinary culture has seen much support from outside of Japan, evidenced by the more than 150,000 Japanese restaurants located overseas (as of 2021). The health benefits, history and cultural longevity of Japanese food has enabled consumers overseas to distinguish the quality of Japanese food products from those produced elsewhere.
Furthermore, as the pursuit of healthy living becomes more prevalent overseas, the demand for fermented products like miso and soy sauce have been on the rise. Consequently, there has also more demand for information about these products.
Taking all these factors into account, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has launched several events based around the 4th Food and Nutrition Master Plan (decided by the 2022 March Food and Nutrition Convention) to ensure this Intangible World Heritage of Washoku is inherited by future generations.
These traditional cuisines from localities all over Japan have existed for decades, made with ingredients native to their respective regions, ensuring the quality of their taste and preserverability by employing the unique qualities of the local climate and natural environment. However, it was found that even though information about these traditional foods has been preserved in their places of origin, there has been no general consolidation of such informationt that would help to further popularize these foods.
To fill that gap, we strive to:
1Ensure the conservation and inheritance of traditional food
2Increase awareness about traditional food
3Increase and promote the export of traditional food
With these as our goals, we wish to bring to you, through this website, traditional foods that are the pride of the local communities of Japan.
In "Traditional Foods in Japan," the recipes, origins, and histories of traditional cuisines and stories of the places they call home have been put together into one resource.
What Constitutes a Traditional Food
In accordance with our goals for this project, we regard these foods as traditional based on the following criteria.
All products must be a processed food product that meets Japan's food quality labeling standards.
All products are available and easily procurable on the market. Considering the contributions to wider domestic consumption and the conservation and passing down of food culture, these products must be presently obtainable. Products that are available only for a limited season on the market are also included.
All products have roots in specific regions, attributed either to local historical and cultural practices or to the use of unique ingredients or recipes native to the land.
Traditional preparation and/or preservation methods
All products are prepared or preserved (such as by drying, fermenting, curing, or smoking) using traditional methods practiced in specific regions. Products that are currently mass-produced by machinery are also included.
All products are passed down from generation to generation and are cultivated and consumed in specific regions. As a rule, the product must have existed prior to World War II and have been passed on until present day.
For products that were created before the start of mass production that arose from the mechanization of industries: Even if they do not fulfill the aforementioned conditions, products that are considered worthy of preserving in history are also included.
Lasting public influence
Efforts to preserve and pass down local community pride and traditional culture are recognizable in all products. Local municipalities and related organizations make continued efforts to support the development of these products through communication tools such as websites and pamphlets.
In line with the expansion of inbound tourism, global e-commerce, and export trends, all products are ready for export.