History of Vegetarianism in Japan

Mitsuru Kakimoto, a member of the Japanese Vegetarian Society writes: “A survey I conducted in 80 Western countries, including among Americans, British and Canadians, showed that about half of them believe that vegetarianism originated in India. Some respondents suggested that the birthplace of vegetarianism is China or Japan. It seems to me that the main reason is that vegetarianism and Buddhism are associated in the West, and this is not surprising. In fact, we have every reason to assert that “.

Gishi-Wajin-Den, a Japanese history book written in China in the third century BC, says: “There are no cattle in that country, no horses, no tigers, no leopards, no goats, no magpies are found on this land. The climate is mild and people eat fresh vegetables both in summer and winter.” Seems to be, . They also caught fish and shellfish, but hardly ate meat.

At that time, Japan was dominated by the Shinto religion, essentially pantheistic, based on the worship of the forces of nature. According to writer Steven Rosen, in the early days of Shinto, people because of the ban on the shedding of blood.

A few hundred years later, Buddhism came to Japan, and the Japanese stopped hunting and fishing. In the seventh century, Empress Jito of Japan encouraged the release of animals from captivity and established nature reserves where hunting was prohibited.

In 676 AD The then-reigning Japanese emperor Tenmu proclaimed a decree prohibiting the eating of fish and shellfish, as well as animal and poultry meat.

During the 12 centuries from the Nara period to the Meiji Reconstruction in the second half of the 19th century, the Japanese ate only vegetarian dishes. The staple foods were rice, legumes and vegetables. Fishing was allowed only on holidays. (reri means cooking).

The Japanese word shojin is the Sanskrit translation of vyria, which means to be good and avoid evil. Buddhist priests who studied in China brought from their temples the practice of cooking with asceticism for the purpose of enlightenment, strictly in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha.

In the 13th century, Dogen, the founder of the Soto-Zen sect, gave . Dogen studied Zen teachings abroad in China during the Song Dynasty. He created a set of rules for the use of vegetarian cuisine as a means to enlighten the mind.

It had a significant impact on the Japanese people. The food served at the tea ceremony is called Kaiseki in Japanese, which literally means “chest stone”. Monks who practiced asceticism pressed heated stones to their chests to quench their hunger. The word Kaiseki itself has come to mean light food, and this tradition has greatly influenced Japanese cuisine.

The “Temple of the Butchered Cow” is located in Shimoda. It was built shortly after Japan opened its doors to the West in the 1850s. It was erected in honor of the first cow killed, marking the first violation of the Buddhist precepts against eating meat.

In the modern era, Miyazawa, a Japanese writer and poet of the early 20th century, created a novel that describes a fictional vegetarian convention. His writings played an important role in the promotion of vegetarianism. Today, not a single animal is eaten in Zen Buddhist monasteries, and Buddhist sects such as Sao Dai (which originated in South Vietnam) can boast.

Buddhist teachings are not the only reason for the development of vegetarianism in Japan. In the late 19th century, Dr. Gensai Ishizuka published an academic book in which he promoted academic cuisine with an emphasis on brown rice and vegetables. His technique is called macrobiotics and is based on ancient Chinese philosophy, on the principles of Yin and Yang and Doasism. Many people became followers of his theory of preventive medicine. Japanese macrobiotics calls for eating brown rice as half of the diet, with vegetables, beans and seaweed.

In 1923, The Natural Diet of Man was published. The author, Dr. Kellogg, writes: “. He eats fish once or twice a month and meat only once a year.” The book describes how, in 1899, the emperor of Japan set up a commission to determine whether his nation needed to eat meat in order to make people stronger. The commission concluded that “the Japanese have always managed to do without it, and their strength, endurance and athletic prowess are superior to those of any of the Caucasian races. The staple food in Japan is rice.

Also, the Chinese, Siamese, Koreans and other peoples of the East adhere to a similar diet. .

Mitsuru Kakimoto concludes: “The Japanese began to eat meat about 150 years ago and are currently suffering from diseases caused by excess consumption of animal fat and toxins used in agriculture. This encourages them to look for natural and safe food and return to traditional Japanese cuisine again.”

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