Event in London Marks 10 Years since “Washoku” UNESCO Listing

Jiji Press
Partiipants in a washoku symposium try cuisines and taste umami in London on Monday.

LONDON (Jiji Press) — A symposium was held in London on Monday to celebrate the 10 years since “washoku” Japanese traditional cuisine was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Around 130 guests, mainly those from local restaurants and food retail and wholesale stores, enjoyed the complex “umami” flavor produced from “dashi” soup stock and fermentation, both of which play key roles in washoku.

Lectures were held on the Japanese food culture, umami and fermentation. Chefs also demonstrated “nukazuke” fermented pickling and the art of “kobujime,” or sandwiching sashimi with the types of kelp called “konbu” or “kobu” to soak the fish with the kelp’s umami.

The event, hosted by Japan’s agriculture ministry and others, was held in hopes of developing new sales channels.

Washoku was registered as a UNESCO intangible asset in December 2013.

According to the agriculture ministry, the number of Japanese restaurants outside the Asian country in 2023 came to around 187,000, more than triple that of 2013.

Yoshihiro Murata of “ryotei” high-end Japanese restaurant Kikunoi, who worked for the UNESCO listing, said that the current popularity of washoku “was unthinkable.”

He said he hopes to train cooks so that they can compete through friendly rivalry with chefs around the world to come up with new washoku recipes.