Covering all types of Japanese cuisine ranging from the upscale kaiseki ryori to the humble home-cooked bento, washoku is perfect for all taste buds, while being healthy, simple, and delicious. The two kanji characters that make up “washoku” can be broken up and translated with “wa” referring to Japan or harmony and “shoku” meaning food or to eat. The bounty of the four seasons are respected through washoku, celebrating food and its source. Dishes may be garnished with sakura petals or momiji leaves to add some seasonal flare, and wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) are often shaped into seasonal motifs.
A typical washoku set meal (“teishoku”) includes rice, a side of tsukemono (pickled seasonal vegetables), ichiju (a bowl of soup), a main dish, and two side dishes. All the parts chosen compliment each other to create a simple but elegant dish. Washoku also takes into account the aesthetics of food. The plating and utensils play a role in showing the beauty and nature behind the dish, adding context to the meal.