Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Shojin Ryori (Buddhist Cuisine) (1) at Tenryu-ji Temple, Arashiyama

Having local food is one of the enjoyments of travelling.

Sushi and Tempura were the only major requests from visitors I met 5 years ago. In recent years requests are much more varied, from ramen noodles to Kobe beef. Some would like to try a bento box others want Japanese curry. I feel Japanese food has become much better known overseas.

Kyoto's well-known cooking styles are;
Obanzai (the home cooking Kyoto style)
Kaiseki cuisine (both Kaiseki as course meal 会席 and meal at tea ceremony 懐石)
Shojin cuisine (Buddhist vegetarian meal).

There are many headquarters of temples in Kyoto and they all receive visitors from the parishioners of their branch temples. Some of them offer accommodation and will provide food or have catering services. I mentioned before in this blog about Okutan (a yudofu restaurant) which is one of this kind of facility at Nanzen-ji Temple. Okutan is a private restaurant, not run by the temple.

Tenryu-ji runs a restaurant within its precinct and an admission fee to the garden is necessary to visit it.

There are three courses;
雪(yuki/snow) is five vegetable dishes,
月(tsuki/moon) is seven vegetable dishes,
花(hana/flower) is seven vegetable dishes.

All include fruit, a bowl of soup and rice. It's served on a red lacquer tray. They are typical for this kind of meal and so cute.

It doesn't include fish broth and is perfect for vegetarians. Shigetsu's food tastes little sweet and it's very filling and kind of heavy after the meal. I like their food because it's not too sophisticated and is a little more homey in taste.

It is provided in a big tatami mat rooms and you have to share a room with the others if it is busy. Very very low chairs are provided for people who find it difficult to sit on the floor for a long time.

I love Syojin Cuisine, but it takes a long time to prepare and needs skill to cook properly. I don't make this kind of food at home, but there are plenty of places do it in Kyoto and enjoy visiting them occasionally.

篩月(Shigetsu) (Japanese)


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