With colorful, light and balanced seasonal dishes, washoku (和食), Japan’s traditional cuisine, is considered one of the healthiest in the world. In fact, washoku even made Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List back in 2013. Fancy!
But does that mean Japanese people resist the siren call of highly processed food? Hell naw.
Japan’s ongoing love affair with junk food
Once upon a time, meat wasn’t on the menu for Japanese folks mainly for religious reasons. With the introduction of Buddhism from China, Japanese rulers banned killing mammals and the consumption of meat by the common folks. With a diet consisting of rice, seafood, veggies, and pickles—and little fat and animal products—people certainly kept themselves lean.
When in 1868 Japan entered the revolutionary Meiji Era, a revolution occurred in its kitchens, too. Japanese people slowly started changing their eating habits, (re)discovered meat and went from Buddhism’s stoic vegetarianism to all-you-can-eat 焼肉 (grilled beef). The introduction of Western-style food called yoshoku (洋食) brought potatoes, corn, dairy products, and candy to the Japanese diet as well.
Now, some 161 years later, fast food chains fill the country with the holy trinity of fat sugar and salt on their menus, while convenience stores provide 24/7 access to a mind-blowing array of processed food to sustain its overworked population.
A new type of diet
If you live in Japan, you’ll know that Japanese people are obsessed with keeping their weight down. But they absolutely love limited-edition, or gentei, food and drink products as well. So on one hand, you’ve got this strong sense of culinary heritage that advocates balance and fresh ingredients but on the other, constant access to junk food that is aggressively marketed through seasonal, holiday and special-edition campaigns.
Luckily, a Japanese tea producer has found the perfect solution: “Anti-fat strong tea.”
It’s a clever marketing gimmick that caught @CHIZUKO610’s attention.
— 若松ちづ子 (@CHIZUKO610) November 1, 2019
= Hey, if you stick this green tea label on various things, whichever type of food you eat will become deliciously healthy.
The label reads 実は体脂肪を減らす= The truth is, it reduces body fat.
While we can’t pull out solid scientific data to back up this claim this seems like a totally foolproof way to eat unhealthy food and get away with it. Right?
Hmmm, although green tea is scientifically proven to boost metabolism, it’s probably not going to cancel out that bucket of fried chicken you just ate in front of Netflix’s The Naked Director.
Whichever type of food, it’ll be healthy AF
The Japanese language is not short of demonstrative words. これ, それ, あれ are only the *tip* of the iceberg lettuce (wahey!). Knowing all of them and their nuance kind of matters a lot to know where you stand when you talk or read in Japanese.
Here’s a table to help you review your basics.
|Group||こ– (near you)||そ– (near the speaker)||あ– (far from both)||ど (question marker)|
that one over there
that way over there
that way over there
which (polite), where, who (polite)
that guy over there
that… over there
this kind of…
that kind of…
that other kind of…
like that over there
The んな group is super useful to express “this type of” or “that kind of”. こんな, そんな and so on are always placed before nouns. The question marker どんな helps you to ask what category something belongs to.
|焼肉||yakiniku||grilled beef (meat)|
|シール||shiiru||seal, sticker, label|
|貼れる||hareru||stick, put (on)|
|実は||jitsu wa||to tell the truth, the truth is|
For more on learning Japanese
- Learn Japanese with our original study materials on GaijinPot Study
- Questions about studying Japanese in Japan? Take a look at the Japan 101 section on Higher Education and Studying Japanese
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