31 Ways to Celebrate Japanese Cuisine’s New UNESCO Status
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (or, UNESCO) has added a new item to their Intangible Cultural Heritage list: traditional Japanese cuisine, or washoku. UNESCO defines washoku as “a social practice based on a set of skills, knowledge, practice, and traditions related to the production, processing, preparation, and consumption of food.” The washoku mindset is one of respect for sustainability and locally produced ingredients.
Various groups and official organizations have long been lobbying for UNESCO status, and the desired outcome, according to Farm Ministry Official Tsutomu Hashimoto, is support of efforts to keep cultural tradition alive domestically more than to promote it overseas. Japanese cuisine has been seeing a boom outside the country; according to Japan Times, a survey by the ministry shows that as of March 2013, there were more than 55,000 washoku restaurants worldwide. At home in Japan, however, Shizuoka University of Art and Culture President Isao Kumakura says that washoku is slipping from the population’s psyche in favor of foreign cuisines. The hope is that this newly focused attention on washoku will prompt a resurgence in nationalism and pride around the culture of the cuisine.
So how should you celebrate and honor the centuries of traditional Japanese food? Make the following recipes, read the cookbooks, watch the movies, and visit the restaurants.