The Three Fives of Japanese Cuisine: Gomi Goshoku Goho 五味 五色 五法 Japanese cuisine is based on the principle of “five flavors, five colors, five ways” or “gomi goshoku goho.” And this applies in particular to traditional kaiseki cuisine. The “five flavors” refers to sweet, sour, spicy, bitter, salty. And the “five colors” are white, yellow, red, green, black. Then, the “five ways” are raw, boiled, roasted, fried, steamed. Chinese philosophy The concept comes from the Chinese yin-yang/five-elements philosophy, dating from the time of the Eastern Zhou dynasty (770-221 B.C.). What till then had been the separate ideas of yin-yang and the five elements were combined into an elaborate system. As you probably know, yin-yang refers to the binary nature of things, such as positive/negative, male/female, up/down, love/hate, etc. And the five elements are wood (which gives rise to) fire (giving rise to) earth (giving rise to) metal (giving rise to) water (which completes the cycle by giving rise to wood). Ekiken Kaibara: old-time nutritionist The five flavors, colors and ways were famously referred to by the 17th century Japanese nutritionist, Ekiken Kaibara (1630-1714). In his book Youjoukun (1712), on diet, he said that eating a little of food of each kind of flavor […]
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