What Washoku means to the Japanese


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.


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
1Soy Sauce98.4%

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

Rank Percentage
1Grilled fish59.8%
2Meat and potatoes53.7%
3Pork fried in soy sauce51.9%
4Boiled pumpkin50.6%
5Udon noodles49.5%
6Boiled daikon radish49.2%
7Pork soup48.5%
8Fried egg, rolled omelette (dashi maki)47.2%
10Stir-fried vegetables44.5%
11Kinpira gobo44.4%
12Boiled greens42.6%
13Traditional stew (yose nabe, chanko nabe)42.4%
14Rice cooked along with vegetables, etc41.7%
15Cold tofu39.7%
16Boiled hijiki seaweed36.2%
17Boiled dried strips of radish33.8%
18Boiled fish33.1%
19Chicken stew (chikuzenni)32.8%
20Chicken nuggets32.0%

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

 JapaneseWesternChineseEthnicOtherNone in particualr
I usually often cook at home91.6%72.1%52.1%5.2%1.1%1.9%
I want to feed to my family92.5%43.4%33.1%6.4%1.0%3.1%
I want to pass on to the next generation85.4%21.0%13.2%1.8%0.3%12.9%
I want to eat more in the future64.0%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)

 JapaneseWesternChineseEthnicOtherNone in particualr
Elementary school children52.5%89.0%39.8%1.7%0.0%0.8%
Middle school children58.0%92.0%60.0%2.0%0.0%0.0%
High school children68.0%92.0%68.0%2.0%2.0%2.0%
All ages70.5%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
1Can eat lots of vegetables77.0%
2Good nutritional balance76.0%
4In tune with the seasons57.3%
5Low calorie50.0%
6Can eat lots of fish49.1%
7Taste I’m used to45.3%
8Taste all the family can eat44.2%
9Don’t get bored with it42.1%
10Can use seasoning I have at home41.9%
11Can eat various ingredients at a single sitting38.3%
12Can enjoy the taste of the ingredients37.0%
13Japanese-like flavour34.7%
14Has food to match occasions31.3%
15Is food education for the children30.2%
16Each family has their own flavour28.2%
18A taste of home21.5%
19Trains a finer palate18.4%
20Can keep (ie, cook in bulk)16.2%

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

Rank Percentage
2Long preparation time26.6%
3Long cooking time24.6%
4A bother to prepare dashi stock21.8%
5Needs lots of ingredients20.6%
6Children don’t like it19.0%
7Not flashy, rich18.9%
8Need to use lots of crockery18.1%
9No sense of volume17.5%
10High proportion of salt17.2%
11Difficult to add flavour17.2%
12Nothing in particular16.7%
13Difficult to plan meals15.4%
14Cannot keep the flavour consistent12.4%
15Dull colours8.7%
16There’s no main dish8.1%
17Preparation is difficult7.8%
18Takes time to tidy up afterwards7.2%
19Got bored of the taste5.0%
20Gets boring4.5%

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

 YesMostlyCan’t sayNot reallyNo
I use in-season vegetables effectively14.0%47.1%28.8%8.6%1.6%
I make a balanced meal centred around rice15.1%57.4%21.5%4.1%1.9%
I place importance on the arrangement of the food7.7%28.6%37.2%23.4%3.1%
I serve dishes in tune with events throughout the year6.9%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)

 YesMostlyCan’t sayNot reallyNo
I will use in-season vegetables effectively50.8%41.2%7.4%0.0%0.5%
I will make a balanced meal centred around rice47.6%42.4%8.5%0.9%0.6%
I will place importance on the arrangement of the food34.7%48.9%14.8%0.9%0.6%
I will serve dishes in tune with events throughout the year33.7%45.4%17.4%2.5%1.0%
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