What Washoku means to the Japanese

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With Washoku, Japanese traditional home cooking, being awarded UNESCO status as an intangible cultural heritage, this recent survey from Kikkoman, a soy sauce maker, into awareness of Washoku provides some useful background data.

Demographics

Over the 27th and 28th of November 2013 830 housewives between the ages of 20 and 69 completed a private internet-based questionnaire. There is no information on how the sample was gathered, but the results were weighted according to the actual demographics of Japan.

As a coincidence, I had this Washoku meal tonight while out:

Restaurant Washoku

I’m not sure if the tofu-burger in the middle counts, but the surrounding dishes are certainly Washoku; anti-clockwise from the 5 grain rice we have pickles (yuk, passed them to my wife), seaweed (wakame) and fried tofu miso soup, purple sweet potato salad, konnyaku (double yuk!), hiyakko cold tofu, salad, and gobo (burdock root). Very nice it was too – my review should appear here soon.

Research results

Q1: What are the essential seasonings for Washoku? (Sample size=830, multiple answer)

Rank   Percentage
1 Soy Sauce 98.4%
2 Dashi 88.3%
3 Sugar 86.0%
4 Mirin 84.9%
5 Miso 84.3%
6 Sake 83.2%
7 Salt 71.7%
8 Vinegar 60.4%
9 Mentsuyu 47.0%
10 Ponzu 43.2%

Q2: Which Washoku dishes do you often prepare at home, excluding rice and miso soup? (Sample size=830, multiple answer)

Rank   Percentage
1 Grilled fish 59.8%
2 Meat and potatoes 53.7%
3 Pork fried in soy sauce 51.9%
4 Boiled pumpkin 50.6%
5 Udon noodles 49.5%
6 Boiled daikon radish 49.2%
7 Pork soup 48.5%
8 Fried egg, rolled omelette (dashi maki) 47.2%
9 Oden 45.1%
10 Stir-fried vegetables 44.5%
11 Kinpira gobo 44.4%
12 Boiled greens 42.6%
13 Traditional stew (yose nabe, chanko nabe) 42.4%
14 Rice cooked along with vegetables, etc 41.7%
15 Cold tofu 39.7%
16 Boiled hijiki seaweed 36.2%
17 Boiled dried strips of radish 33.8%
18 Boiled fish 33.1%
19 Chicken stew (chikuzenni) 32.8%
20 Chicken nuggets 32.0%

Q3: Which of the following statements about kinds of cuisine apply to you and your family? (Sample size=830)

  Japanese Western Chinese Ethnic Other None in particualr
I usually often cook at home 91.6% 72.1% 52.1% 5.2% 1.1% 1.9%
I want to feed to my family 92.5% 43.4% 33.1% 6.4% 1.0% 3.1%
I want to pass on to the next generation 85.4% 21.0% 13.2% 1.8% 0.3% 12.9%
I want to eat more in the future 64.0% 12.6% 10.3% 7.3% 0.6% 25.8%

Q4: Which of the following kinds of cuisine do your family members like? (Sample size=varied)

  Japanese Western Chinese Ethnic Other None in particualr
Elementary school children 52.5% 89.0% 39.8% 1.7% 0.0% 0.8%
Middle school children 58.0% 92.0% 60.0% 2.0% 0.0% 0.0%
High school children 68.0% 92.0% 68.0% 2.0% 2.0% 2.0%
All ages 70.5% 71.2% 46.1% 6.2% 1.0% 2.1%

Q5: What are the good things about Washoku? (Sample size=830, multiple answer)

Rank   Percentage
1 Can eat lots of vegetables 77.0%
2 Good nutritional balance 76.0%
3 Healthy 65.2%
4 In tune with the seasons 57.3%
5 Low calorie 50.0%
6 Can eat lots of fish 49.1%
7 Taste I’m used to 45.3%
8 Taste all the family can eat 44.2%
9 Don’t get bored with it 42.1%
10 Can use seasoning I have at home 41.9%
11 Can eat various ingredients at a single sitting 38.3%
12 Can enjoy the taste of the ingredients 37.0%
13 Japanese-like flavour 34.7%
14 Has food to match occasions 31.3%
15 Is food education for the children 30.2%
16 Each family has their own flavour 28.2%
17 Colourful 25.7%
18 A taste of home 21.5%
19 Trains a finer palate 18.4%
20 Can keep (ie, cook in bulk) 16.2%

Q6: What are the bad things about Washoku? (Sample size=830, multiple answer)

Rank   Percentage
1 Bland 32.9%
2 Long preparation time 26.6%
3 Long cooking time 24.6%
4 A bother to prepare dashi stock 21.8%
5 Needs lots of ingredients 20.6%
6 Children don’t like it 19.0%
7 Not flashy, rich 18.9%
8 Need to use lots of crockery 18.1%
9 No sense of volume 17.5%
10 High proportion of salt 17.2%
11 Difficult to add flavour 17.2%
12 Nothing in particular 16.7%
13 Difficult to plan meals 15.4%
14 Cannot keep the flavour consistent 12.4%
15 Dull colours 8.7%
16 There’s no main dish 8.1%
17 Preparation is difficult 7.8%
18 Takes time to tidy up afterwards 7.2%
19 Got bored of the taste 5.0%
20 Gets boring 4.5%

Q7: Which of these points regarding Washoku apply to your home cooking? (Sample size=830)

  Yes Mostly Can’t say Not really No
I use in-season vegetables effectively 14.0% 47.1% 28.8% 8.6% 1.6%
I make a balanced meal centred around rice 15.1% 57.4% 21.5% 4.1% 1.9%
I place importance on the arrangement of the food 7.7% 28.6% 37.2% 23.4% 3.1%
I serve dishes in tune with events throughout the year 6.9% 32.8% 38.2% 18.1% 4.0%

Q8: Which of these points regarding Washoku apply to how you would like your home cooking to be in the future? (Sample size=830)

  Yes Mostly Can’t say Not really No
I will use in-season vegetables effectively 50.8% 41.2% 7.4% 0.0% 0.5%
I will make a balanced meal centred around rice 47.6% 42.4% 8.5% 0.9% 0.6%
I will place importance on the arrangement of the food 34.7% 48.9% 14.8% 0.9% 0.6%
I will serve dishes in tune with events throughout the year 33.7% 45.4% 17.4% 2.5% 1.0%
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