Umami Lecture at Koyasan

May 2010

Daishi Kyokai Honbu(Head Teaching Center of Kobo Daishi)

  • On April 27, 2010, the Umami Information Center had an opportunity to support an umami-related event at  Koyasan(Mt.Koya), Wakayama, Japan. As most of you may notice, Koyasan is the center of Koyasan Shingon Buddhism, opened in 816 by Kobo Daishi (Kukai), one of the most significant personalities in Japanese religious history. Over one hundred temples stand in the small town surrounded by mountains. Besides its beautiful scenery, Koyasan is also famous for its special cuisine, shojin ryori, the vegetarian cuisine for Buddhist monks. In this section, a brief summary of the lecture by Mr. Yuji Iida, secretariat of Foundation for Ajinomoto Dietary Culture and a taste of shojin ryori are reported.


    This workshop was set up as a special lecture in the annual meeting of womens' association of Koyasan Shingon Buddhism. Mr. Iida made a presentation on a dietary culture and umami to about 170participants. Starting with umami history, his story covered a broad range of topics from anthropology to culinary culture. The UIC offered a tasting of cherry tomatoes and three variety of dashi; kombu, katsuo and dried shiitake mushroom. Not only participants but also Buddhist monks rediscovered what dashi was and experienced UMAMI. In the Q&A session, various questions were raised by enthusiastic participants. It was very impressive to know all participants were interested in healthy dietary life in their local cuisine. They were very curious about umami and enjoyed the workshop. The UIC hopes to have such a wonderful opportunity to share the thoughts and physiology of umami again.


    (Reference)
    Shojin dashi is a fish free stock which can be used in any vegetarian dish. It is most commonly associated with Buddhist cuisine, playing an important role in the food served at religious ceremonies or events. It can be made from a great variety of dried vegetables, but the most popular combination is dried shiitake mushrooms and kombu. Dried gourd strips (kampyo) and dried daikon (Japanese radish) and carrot peels can also be used.



  • Daishi Kyokai Honbu(Head Teaching Center of Kobo Daishi)

    Mr. Iida and participants

    Monks tasting umami

    Umami tasting kit

    Shojin ryori served at shukubo(temple lodging)

  • Mr. Iida and participants

    Monks tasting umami

    Umami tasting kit

    Shojin ryori served at shukubo(temple lodging)