Washoku: Improve Your Emotional Health with Ancient Japanese Traditions

Washoku: Improve Your Emotional Health with Ancient Japanese Traditions
The Japanese are often said to have a long life because they follow such a healthy diet. They eat a lot of fish and vegetables and their diet is well balanced. This diet follows the principles of Chōwa, which you can also easily apply in your life. So you can eat delicious food and live a carefree life!


Washoku is the art of Japanese cooking. The ‘wa’ of Washoku , like the ‘wa’ in Chōwa , means ‘peace’. But in the case of Washoku , it also means ‘Japanese’. Washoku literally means ‘Japanese food’‘. Because a Washoku chef uses the right skills and knowledge and follows the age-old traditions, he can serve perfectly prepared dishes with a beautiful presentation. This way you can not only enjoy the consumption of the food, but the meal also provides a feeling of happiness.

The five elements

Washoku uses the principle of five elements. During the preparation of food, the five colors, the five flavors, and the five cooking methods are taken into account. These five elements ensure that a Washoku meal is always in balance. Want to add this Washoku balance to your meal yourself?

Then make sure that at least one ingredient in every meal is one of five colors: red, yellow, green, black, and white. In addition, your meal should be a combination of bitter ( shibumi ), sour ( suppai ), salty ( shoppai ), sweet ( amai ), and spicy ( umami ).) flavors should be. The five cooking methods for preparing your food are simmering, baking, steaming, roasting and grilling. In addition, a lot of food is eaten raw in Japan, just think of sushi. Raw is of course not a method of preparation, but raw fish is very good for a person!

Balance within Washoku

Washoku: Improve Your Emotional Health with Ancient Japanese Traditions

Washoku believes it is important that you respect your ingredients. This means that you are aware of the origin of your products and therefore mainly buy seasonal products. Seasonal vegetables are generally locally sourced and do not need to be imported from other parts of the world. This is not only good for your local economy but also very good for the environment.

In Japan, they try to use as many of ingredients as possible and leave as little waste as possible. For example, the tops of carrots are often used to make stock, and the leaves of the carrots often form the basis for a pesto sauce.

Washoku also avoids processed foods (such as various cheeses and meats) as much as possible and uses very little sugar.


A standard Japanese meal consists of a soup, three side dishes, and a bowl of rice. This principle is called “ ichi-jū-san-sai ” which literally means “one soup, three dishes”. The most important dish in this meal is protein. The Japanese generally get this from fish, but you can of course also opt for a piece of meat. The other two dishes mainly consist of seasonal vegetables, tofu, and products made from soybeans. A typical Japanese dish is low in carbohydrates; usually, they only eat a bowl of white rice. Are you looking for more balance in your diet? Then add an ichi-jū-san-sai meal to your menu once (or more) a week.

Shōjin ryori

The last Japanese food principle I want to share with you is Shōjin ryori . This principle was devised by Dōgen , who is also believed to be the creator of Zen Buddhism. Shōjin ryori literally means ‘dedicated kitchen’ and, according to the creator Dōgen , is the best food for absorbing Buddhist teachings.

Washoku: Improve Your Emotional Health with Ancient Japanese TraditionsThe environment is also central to this way of cooking. Practitioners of Shōjin ryori try to keep as little waste as possible. They also cook with as much of the product as possible. For example, they make a broth from the skins of radishes. In addition, this way of cooking is completely vegan. Eating less meat has less impact on the environment. The protein getsShōjin ryori from soy products.

Washoku for emotional health

It is said that one bite of Washoku’s unique combinations of textures and flavors is enough to resolve any inner conflict. The Japanese believe that no matter how you feel, after a good meal prepared according to the principles of Washoku, you will immediately feel in balance with the world again. Try this out by preparing a meal where you cook according to the five elements of Washoku. It will definitely make you feel better!

That good food can improve our mental health sounds very logical. If you eat something you like, you will feel happier than if you don’t like the meal. Applying Washoku for even better emotional health is simple and can be done easily at home. Choose ingredients you like and follow the principles of the five elements. You will leave the table with a satisfying feeling! Itadakimasu (Enjoy your meal)!


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