The Japanese, of course, love to make meals into something that’s beautiful to look at, a concept known as shoku no bi, or “the beauty of food.” The ultimate embodiment of this concept is kaiseki ryori, the traditional food of Kyoto in which a great deal of care is taken with the presentation of the food, from the shape and color and texture to the elegant dishes it’s served on. Since the Japanese love their seasons so much, what you’re served will depend on what time of year it is — in the fall your meal with have a momiji (Japanese maple) motif, while sakura petals will adorn your food in the spring. Kaiseki meals are served in courses, similar to fine French dining (which the Japanese also love, probably more than the French do), and courses include sashimi, tempura, grilled fish, rice, and various other foods. To be honest, it’s not uncommon to have no idea what you’re putting in your mouth when you eat kaiseki (at least one dish will contain a flower that you ar free to eat, if you like), but don’t worry, everything is good. If you’re curious about Japanese cooking, check the J-List site for some cool cooking books.
Tthe traditional food of Kyoto embodies “the beauty of food.”