I have been around Nihon Ryori since the age of 5 and was fortunate to absorbe the many aspects that materialises around this beautiful culture and cuisine which filled my hart with many feelings for the japanese culture and life itself from deep within.
I have studied and still am studying the living culture of japan and of life from may perspectives but of course having dedicated myself to being a Japanese chef, it is what I am on a journey on , to constantly rediscover deeper and deeper, as to what it’s nature really is. Coming closer and closer to the essence of life ultimately helps me appreciate the depth that lies within Kyoto Ryori and Nihon Ryori .
Many activities help me to find these connections to japanese cuisine. Nature is the most prominent of teachers and following this root definitely brings you very close to the essence of japanese cuisine.
Tea ceremony is a wonderful aspect to practice as well as Ikebana, Kyudo, pottery, poetry and reading as well as meditation are all examples of things that help to study this beautiful cuisine.
Kyoto Ryori having its roots in the tea ceremony and by the 16th century, tea drinking had spread to all levels of society in Japan. Sen no Rikyū , is perhaps the most well-known—and still revered—historical figure in tea ceremony, followed his master Takeno Jōō‘s concept of ichi-go ichi-e, a philosophy that each meeting should be treasured, for it can never be reproduced. His teachings perfected many newly developed forms inarchitecture and gardens, art, and the full development of “the “way of tea”. The principles he set forward—harmony (和 wa?), respect (敬 kei?), purity (清 sei?), and tranquility (寂 jaku?)—are still central to tea ceremony.
The tea ceremony has its influences from Buddhism and Shinto aspects reflecting that it is not the object that we perceive itself that is so fascinating but what we want to cultivate and find within!
“Though many people drink tea,
if you do not know the Way of Tea,
tea will drink you up.”
Human being in tune with the universe- to better oneself and living in line with the ultimate potential that is limitless through the way of tea.
This is just brief. The japanese works of cultural documents are to vast to mention in detail in this short blog but you will find many references and I encourage you to study.
The discipline of japanese cuisine is intense but this is another aspect which I will write about another time.
My personal journey as a japanese chef is unconventional but no less valuable then a full traditional training in Japan itself. I will write a article about my journey soon.
The reason I am writing this short article is because here in the west we have so many japanese restaurants that are not japanese at all and the essence and the way of life/tea/ culture is little bit left aside which is terribly sad.
Being a japanese chef is a way of life and we cultivate all to our own limitations. I would like to braden those limitation here in the west as we now encounter a time that may be more open for this. We now have developed a strong sense of seasonality and sustainability here in the UK, in New York it is even more established and is part of urban life in a big city, japanese cuisine is the ultimate celebration of this.
My master said that he could explain everything there is to know about being a japanese chef in 5 minutes, however it would mean nothing! He always sed when he does anything he does it with his whole life and totality possible and this nobody can just explain to anyone.
I get approached constantly about helping owners to produce another Nobu chain which I can understand. Nobu is a great business module and so attractive to be a owner of however this is already done and there is so much more to consider. Japanese Culture cuisine can be a great and endless possibility’s for new ideas can arise creating new concepts that may be more suitable for the times we live in now.
At the very center and hart of everything in life there is only ultimate potential and working from and with this is what really makes me happy as a chef.
I did not become a chef because I wanted to be what I saw, I became a chef because what I realised which was a direct universe of beauty from within, an expression of this ultimate potential and universal vibration so close to life and how nature expresses itself is no short of a miracle.
Over and over you will find paintings in Zen and in japanese culture that reference enigmatic moments captures as in the painting of the tea master Sen no Rykiu the intoxication of the moon which is a beautifull example of a man that is at one with Nature and the universe at a very refined level.
I grew up very close to Mifune’s Restaurant in Munich run my his son. This is were I was first exposed to the culture of Japan. He actually acted in a movie about Sen no Rykiu called Honkakubô ibun- Death of a Teamaster. Toshiro Mifune was a great actor of Japan filming many cult movies.
A very great chef of Kyoto once told me to not try and copy and try to be like me but to find my way through nature and the practice of Zen.
I believe that Zen is free of religion and we can find the pure essence of it anywhere.
I wrote this article because the spiritual aspect is very important to my personal work and has been the catalist and soul of Kyoto Ryori but not many chefs in the west speak this aspect that I know. mostly ithe discussions revolve around sciences however it is good to put the science and the perceptive spiritual culture together. Some chefs do have a very strong bond to nature in there work which is wonderful to see and these chefs usually are the ones that resonate the strongest with japan.
I just wanted to share this video with you as it is a very good introduction of principles that have been with us before we can imagine but is hard to explain. Through animation it is more easy to explain what we consider to be invisible or spiritual subjects.
This is just to encourage an open mind about how we live, what we do and how we work- the universe works and by getting closer to that ,we will find only miracles.
Science and religion spirituality is coming closer and closer like never before helping us to understand and suport us to create new designs and ideas that will be better for our environment and the spirit of man living more harmoniously for the future to come.
There is so much to say on this subject however I am only able to provide a glimpse by showing this simple video and my feeling on the matter.
Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace
Here is a basic article about Tea ceremony: