The chocolate bar Kit Kat sounds a lot like the Japanese phrase kitto katsu, which roughly translates to ‘I hope you succeed!’ Parents buy them for their children before exams.
Candied grasshoppers, known as inago, are a popular cocktail snack in Japan.
In medieval Japan, it was considered impolite to eat your food at banquets. The polite thing was to appreciate its beauty and then slip a bit of it into your sleeve or pocket.
One 16th-century etiquette guide instructs participants to ‘Take the second strand of flattened abalone from the front and bring it up to your mouth, and then tuck it away into your pocket.’ Another guide on women's behaviour from 1692 tells readers that at a wedding ‘The groom and bride consume the three rounds of drinks . . . [but] they should only pretend to eat the food.’
Japan also has a traditional ceremony called Okuizome when an infant reaches the age of 100 days. The baby's family pretend to feed the baby boiled vegetables, grilled sea bream, rice and red beans by waving them before the baby's mouth. This is to ensure the child will grow up healthy; it's still practised in parts of Japan today.
In medieval Japan, chefs were known as 'men of the carving knife', or 'hochonin'. One of their main duties was to show off their skills by slicing fish and birds into large, floral-looking displays. In 17th-century Japan there were at least 47 different ways to cut carp for different occasions: there was Departing for Battle Carp, Celebratory Carp, Taking a Bride Carp, Flower Viewing Carp, Moon Viewing Carp and Carp In A Boat.
I've never really wanted to go to Japan. Simply because I don't like eating fish.
Sake is more like a very strong beer than wine. Wine is made from fruit, normally grapes – sake is made from a grain. To the Japanese the word 'sake' just means a non-specific 'alcoholic drink’. The Japanese word for sake is nihonshu, which means ‘Japanese liquor’.
In 8th-century Japan, the way to make alcohol was for people in the village to chew rice, spit it into a container, and let the chemicals in their saliva break down the rice's starch into sugar. The rice soon fermented into alcohol, at which point the villagers would return to drink it.
Tempura was introduced to the Japanese by Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century.
Almost all 'wasabi' served in the UK is actually horseradish dyed green.