Japanese Food: What Is Kaiseki?

Kaiseki is Japanese food that is served in many courses

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Kaiseki is a style and tradition of eating Japanese food.

Japanese food can be served and enjoyed many different ways, and it often comes with a set of traditional preparations, customs, and etiquette.

If you were to visit a Japanese ryokan or a traditional Japanese restaurant, then you would have a kaiseki dining experience. Kaiseki is a traditional, multicourse dinner that typically is served in eight orchestrated courses; however, kaiseki can consist of anywhere from six to 15 dishes in one meal.

The word kaiseki dates back more than 500 years to the Zen monasteries of Kyoto. Kaiseki is named after the warm stones young monks would carry in their robes to subdue their hunger. Originally, kaiseki was a very simple meal of just a few dishes that were all vegetarian, but kaiseki has since become an elaborate feast.

Kaiseki consists of meat, fish, and vegetables, and the dishes included in kaiseki change according to the season. 

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