Why Japanese Food Is the Healthiest Way to Eat for a Happy Life

It’s not the ingredients necessarily, but the principles which form the foundation

Kaki Okumura
4 min readOct 12, 2021


Japanese food is harmony food

Quite literally.

“Japanese food” in Japanese is read as washoku (和食), with wa (和) meaning harmony, and shoku (食) meaning food. In fact, the kanji 「和」 is often interchangeably used to mean “harmony” or “Japanese”.

The kanji character for Japanese was actually first「倭」, read phonetically as “wa”, but this kanji was assigned by the Chinese and didn’t have much significance. Upon learning this, Japanese Empress Genmei assigned the kanji for harmony, or 「和」to replace the existing character during the Nara period (710 to 794 AD) to represent Japan.

It is thought that she was inspired by The Seventeen-Article Constitution, a decree centered on moral principles and virtues, written by politician Prince Shotoku and adopted by her predecessor, the first decree which is 「以和為貴」or to hold harmony in precious regard.

以和為貴: to hold harmony in precious regard

The ideas which make Japanese food the healthiest way to eat

This idea of harmony is what the foundation of Japanese food is built upon. And it is the exact harmony which lends itself to making Japanese food one of the healthiest ways to eat.

1. Ichiju-sansai: Balance of food types

The traditional Japanese meal is composed with the idea of ichiju-sansai, or ‘one soup, three sides’ in mind. Most commonly this means a bowl of miso soup, two vegetable side dishes, and one fish dish, to go with a plain bowl of rice.

But the idea is that meals should be composed of not just “healthy foods”, but with a variety of them. A diet of just spinach is no longer healthy, it is only when we balance it with different ingredients, cooking methods, and combine it with other vegetables and whole proteins is when we can define it as healthy.

2. Harahachi-bunme: Moderate portions



Kaki Okumura

Born in Dallas, raised in New York and Tokyo. I care about helping others learn to live a better, healthier life. My site: www.kakikata.space 🌱