In a decision made by the United Nations cultural organization on Wednesday in Azerbaijan, traditional Japanese food has been added to its cultural heritage list. Until this announcement was made, only French cuisine had been given the prized designation of being a national culinary tradition.
The traditional Japanese cooking style, known as “washoku”, has been noted as being low calorie and healthy, though it can be very time consuming to prepare. With people beginning to live busier lives now, more citizens of Japan are turning to western style fast food, rather than traditional Japanese food.
The rising popularity of western style convenience foods has some purists worried that the traditional Japanese food and style of eating may be forgotten by the Japanese. Many hope that the UNESCO recognition of traditional Japanese food will help to increase the efforts to save washoku in Japan, in addition to boosting global awareness as well.
Japanese food offers an eating style influenced by centuries of tradition with an emphasis on the use of seasonally available ingredients. The commissioner of Japan's Cultural Affairs Agency, Masanori Aoyagi, remarked to the UNESCO committee that washoku gives the Japanese a sense of social cohesion.
Masanori Aoyagi also joked that despite traditional Japanese food being low in calories, it doesn't work for him because “I always take double portions”.