Japan - A Country Rich in Food Culture

Seasons - Savoring the four seasons and enjoying their elegant charm.Seasons - Savoring the four seasons and enjoying their elegant charm.

Seasonality is cherished in Japan, with its four clearly defined seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. People set great store by choosing ingredients described as shun—that is to say, at their freshest and tastiest in that particular season. More subtle seasonal variations can also be savored, with menus featuring early-harvest produce (hashiri) and the last harvest of a season (nagori).

Japanese people also enjoy the passing of the seasons and the beauty of nature by garnishing food with seasonal flowers and leaves, as well as by using tableware and furnishings tailored to the season. Additionally, the charms of the four seasons are expressed through traditional Japanese confectionery, or wagashi, with bright colors and distinctive shapes heralding the advent of each season. In spring, cherry blossom and canola flower designs abound, changing to morning glories and motifs associated with the Tanabata star festival in summer. Autumn sweets often feature red maple leaves and chestnuts, while in winter, many take the form of camellias and narcissi. Thus, Japan’s culture of affection toward the seasons provides a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

Top: Daikon radishes are hung out to dry in winter / Middle (L): Somen noodles are often eaten in summer / Middle (R): Wagashi sweets with an autumnal theme / Bottom: Cherry blossom reflected in a terraced rice paddy in spring