The traditional Japanese diet consists mainly of vegetables, fruit, and fish while pork, chicken, beef and other forms of meat were entirely absent in daily meals.
The Consumption of Whale
The traditional Japanese diet also relied heavily on the consumption of whale. In fact, it is believed that whale was part of the diet well before common era; archaelogical evidence suggests that it was eaten during the Jomon Period (7000-3000BCE). As a result, it is no wonder that Japan continues to eat whale meat despite international scrutiny.
Buddhism and the Traditional Japanese Diet
When Buddhism was recognized as the official religion of Japan, eating the meat of any animal with four legs was banned by the imperial court. This ban extended to any mammal, therefore chicken was included. This first occurred under the reign of the 40th emperor of the country, Emperor Temmu (late 600s AD), and continued into the Nara Period (710 to 784 AD) and onwards, until the Meiji period (1869-1912AD). Although technically a mammal, whale was exempt from the ban as it was considered a fish since it lived in the water.
However, it is believed that some people continued to eat meat despite the ban, such as hunters.
Food was typically boiled, steamed, grilled or lightly fried. Little to no oil was used to preserve the flavour of the ingredients, and few seasonings were added.