Translated by Jasmine Nishino
Shojin Ryori (Buddhist Cuisine) - Japanese Encyclopedia
Written by ニコ
Shojin ryori, otherwise known as Buddhist cuisine, is a type of vegetarian meal. following the rules and practices of Buddhism. Let us introduce you to the basic rules and information about this item of Buddhist cuisine, and invite you to taste it for you
What Kind of Food Is Shojin Ryori?
With the increase of health conscious people, shojin ryori, otherwise known as Buddhist cuisine can be found in various places in Japan. It was originally part of a monk's training routine and was brought into Japan from India and China. So, how did Buddhist cuisine spread and became popular among the Japanese now?
The core philosophy of Buddhist cuisine is "soshoku" - the belief and practice of Buddhit monks of eating only what is necessary to survive. That is how they were able to learn the value of "life" and reach closer to the practices of Buddhism. In the past, Buddhist monks were prohibited from consuming meat, seafood, alcohol and vegetables with a strong flavor such as garlic. The vegetables that were forbidden were called gokun (五葷).
Buddhism has various sects and Buddhist cuisine varies from country to country depending on the ingredients used. The Buddhist cuisine that first arrived in Japan during the sixth century from India and China has been adapted and many new recipes have been created. As time passed, the rules that prohibited monks from consuming meat and gokun have been eased, but the idea and customs of Buddhist cuisine have been passed down.
What Kind Of Dishes Are There?
Sesame Tofu Using soybeans as a base ingredient, tofu is a popular ingredient used in Buddhist cuisine. Sesame tofu, on the other hand, uses sesame seeds as a base ingredient instead of soybeans. Tofu is frequently cooked or grilled among other ingredients, but sesame tofu is chilled and eaten with a sauce on its own.
Vegetable Tempura This is a simple dish using fried vegetables with a light, crispy coat, but in Buddhist cuisine, egg is not used at frying. It is actually a challenge with trial-and-error to fry it with the right crisp like real tempura. Ganmodoki Ganmodoki is a dish with crushed tofu, carrots and hijiki seaweed that has been kneaded and fried. It originated as a dish created by monks to look similar to meat. Now, there are many Buddhist recipes that people enjoy in normal households.
Buddhist cuisine does not use any animal products, so it is a recommended type of cuisine for vegetarians, Muslims, and people who are limiting the amount of meat consumption. However, for certain places that do not follow the strict rules of Buddhist cuisine, there may be a chance that animal products are in soups.
Please be cautious and make sure to confirm it is strictly Buddhist if you have any dietary restrictions. Certain seasonings used in Japanese food such as "mirin" and other fermented products also contain alcohol. Those who have a "restriction of alcohol" should be careful. It is best to inquire in advance to see if they use any products that should be restricted.
Where Can Buddhist Cuisine Be Enjoyed?
Not too far from the center of Tokyo, there is Mt. Takao where many visitors go for a quick one-day hike. It was formally a place where monks used to stay to train. Within the mountain, at the temple called Takaozan Yakuoin, visitors are able to taste authentic Buddhist cuisine. It is a popular location to enjoy a delicious a delicious Buddhist meal after hiking in the scenic mountain.
A Mountain Inhabited by Legendary Creatures? Yakuōin Temple, Mt. Takao
Hike the Most Visited Mountain in the World, Mount Takao
Komaki Shokudo in Akihabara, Tokyo, carries Buddhist cuisine inside a casual shopping center. Along with a meal selection, it also has a nice variety of desserts. It is great for those who are interested in trying and tasting Buddhist cuisine. For those who wish to experience a traditional Japanese atmosphere, Shigetsu, a restaurant carrying Buddhist cuisine in the Tenryu Temple of Arashiyama, Kyoto, is also recommended.
Arashiyama area is a very popular sightseeing spot during the fall foliage season. Enjoy the wonderful views of the leaves while savoring a delicious Buddhist meal. Many restaurants that carry Buddhist dishes tend to gather around temples. If you happen to do a pilgrimage around temples, it is definitely worth trying during your journey.