Illustrated Japanese Gastronomic Manuscripts

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce this thematic list of five illustrated Japanese manuscripts relating to gastronomy. Each listing can be reviewed by clicking any of the images below.



Megumi, Jonathan & Yoshi

1. SHIITAKE MUSHROOM CULTIVATION. Illustrated manuscript on paper, entitled “Kojin hasei roku” [“How to Cultivate Shiitake Mushrooms”].

A history of the artificial cultivation of shiitake in Japan, composed a bakufu official seriving in Hokkaido. The manuscript gives detailed instructions, fully explaining all the steps described above. The attractive illustrations depict leaves of the trees used, the drying logs, which were placed next to trees already growing shiitake, and the method of drying the mushrooms on wooden skewers placed in front of charcoal fires in huts.

2. (GASTRONOMY & ETIQUETTE). A collection of instructional notebooks containing secrets of gastronomy, etiquette, techniques of preparations for a wide variety of festivities.

3. SWEET POTATOES. Illustrated manuscript on paper, entitled “Hansho [or Bansho] kai” [“Ryukyu Potatoes Explained”].

A nicely illustrated manuscript detailing the cultivation and preparation of sweet potatoes from Ryukyu (modern-day Okinawa). The illustrations show six species of the sweet potato, showing each one’s leaf, the entire potato, and a cross-section.

4. ABE, Teruto (or Shojin or Shoo). Illustrated manuscript on paper, entitled on manuscript label on upper cover “Nanakusa ben” [“Seven Types of Herbs, Explained”].

This manuscript is related to the Festival of Seven Herbs (Nanakusa no sekku), a traditional Japanese ritual of eating seven-herb rice porridge on the 7th of January; its consumption would bring longevity and health and ward off evil. The tradition derives from China.

5. SOBA NOODLES. Illustrated manuscript on paper, signed “Yashiro Nakagawa” on the first leaf.

A fascinating and nicely illustrated manuscript on soba noodles, with a history, recipes, and related stories. The illustrations are finely and expressively drawn.

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