Origins of Sushi, Manga and Japanese Hospitality

We have attended a seminar held by JATA, Japan Association of Travel Agents, which is about “Discover Japan”!
The lecturer was a well-experience guide, Mr Hiroyuki Eguchi, he is also an English teacher and a musician! Here we are letting you know some of the tips on how to find Japanese culture.

sushi1) Japanese Food

As you might already know, Japanese food is now one of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. Interesting thing is, in English, “cook” means prepare food with fire but we have various kinds of techniques to prepare our food without fire.

For example, Kyoto is surrounded by mountains, not facing the sea, So in the old times, we covered raw fish with salt to preserve, then it became “Narezushi”, sushi with fermented fish. And this Narezushi is the origin of all sushi in our country.

Since before Narezushi, we’ve had tradition of eating food without cooking. We believe we should have food just as it is, without fire, because the food was given by gods. We should keep the original conditions to eat it. We purified fish and vegetables with salt, sake, and water to thank gods. Knives and cutting boards used to be tools for such kind of purifying rites.

For your information, Japanese meals should consist of rice, soup, and just one fish or meat dish. We use Japanese soup or soy sauce as flavor and eat it with chopsticks. It’s really easy for you to find typical Japanese meals in our current daily life.

2) Manga (Comic)

Almost 30 percents of the annual publication in Japan is Manga, comic books. This is something many of us didn’t know. And also, Japanese Manga is quite popular in other countries.

Manga describes stories with illustrations and texts, we believe that we have traditions in the history of our literature.
In the 9th century, books were written by Chinese characters but women didn’t have chances to learn it. So women writers developed easier way to write it, which is hiragana, we still use it daily. And the writer of Genji Monogatari (Tale of Genji), one of the most well know novel in the Japanese history was among those women writers.

Tale of Genji

Tale of Genji, Tokugawa Art Museum

Later in the 11th century, Genji Monogatari was arranged to a picture book, the idea is the same as nowadays Manga. Also in the 12th century, we had a picture book with animals, such as rabbits or frogs. This Choju Giga (Amimal Cartoons) is also one of the oldest Manga style books.

In the 18th century, woodblock printing was quite popular and people in Edo (Tokyo) loved reading gossip papers which also had illustrations. It’s said that almost 70 percents of Edo people could read at that time, which is quite high comparing to other cities of the world.

3) Japanese Hospitality (Omotenashi)

There’s a difference in Japanese hospitality “Omotenashi” and English “Hospitality”.
In Japan, both hosts and guest care about each other, it’s not one way direction communication. It’s very subtle and sometimes complicated, hard to understand for people from other countries.

For example, when we say

“It’s difficult.”
“We’ll think about it.”

These are very polite way to say “no”, we just understand what they want to say, and don’t ask anymore. But when we say this in English, people think we’ll try to take care of it.
This is just call examples of our Japanese culture. Please experience it by visiting us!

For your reference:

Genji Monogatari Emaki
Choju Giga

by Japan Oriental Tours

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