Celebrating Washoku: An evening to commemorate the designation of Japanese cuisine as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage


On March 20th, a Washoku (Japanese Cuisine) promotional event was held at the Ambassador’s Residence to mark the addition of Washoku to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in December 2013.  Government officials, academics, and food journalists were invited to this event in part to celebrate the 85th anniversary of diplomatic relation between Japan and Canada.


In his opening remarks, Ambassador Okuda expressed that Washoku was recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in part because of its spirit of respect for nature. Moreover, it is intrinsically linked to important seasonal activities such as the New Year’s celebration, rice planting, and the harvest.  For this reason, Washoku is an inherent part of the social customs that strengthen interrelations and unity among families and local communities.     


The evening included a brief introduction to the historical background of Washoku, as well as the development and dissemination of the techniques used to make dashi stock and miso paste, which ultimately led to the delicate Kaiseki style of Japanese cuisine which we know today.  The Chef of the Ambassador’s Residence, Shoji Hamana, delighted guests with Japanese dishes which reflected the changing of the seasons by using seasonal flowers and leaves.


By having Washoku recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage, it is our hope that other countries will gain a deeper knowledge of Japanese culture and a new appreciation for Japanese cuisine. In addition, we hope that this will encourage Japanese people to continue to preserve the tradition of Japanese food culture to pass onto future generations.


Photo credits: samgarcia@rogers.com


Ambassador Okuda making opening remarks



Ambassador’s Residence Chef Shoji Hamana




Guests enjoying Washoku in the Dining Room



Presentation on the historical development of Japanese cuisine




The Washoku served