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A 16th Century Japanese Feast

As served at the Sword and Chrysanthemum event in the Shire of Eisental, October 19, 2002.


Gohan - Plain Rice
Seasonings (vinegar, salt, shoyu)
Miso Soup with Somen (thin noodles)
Tsukemono - Pickles made from turnips, burdock and carrots
Tamago dofu - Egg "Tofu"- steamed egg custard
Edamame - green soybeans (no recipe, just frozen edamame dropped in boiling water & lightly salted)
Hoshi - Salted Jellyfish
Maguro Shoga-zu - Tuna Sashimi (raw) with Vinegar Sauce
Kara-ni - Shiitake simmered in shoyu
Asari Mushizake - Clams steamed in Sake
Asparagasu Aemono - Asparagus Spears with Walnut Sauce
Kuri Gohan - Chestnut Rice
Abira-Jiru - Duck Soup with Wakame seaweed and Daikon
Sake Miso - Miso Marinated Grilled Salmon
Awabi-Ni - Simmered Dried Abalone
Kakinamasu - Persimmon & Hakusai cabbage in sweet vinegar dressing
Shika-ni - Simmered Venison
Sudako - Vinegared Octopus
Nasu Dengaku - Grilled Eggplant with Miso

Kashi (Desserts) and Tea Tasting:
Momo, Mikan, - Peaches or Nectarine and/or Apricots
Shaved Ice with Maple Syrup
Zenzai - Mochi with Sweet Adzuki bean "Soup"
Roasted Pine Nuts

Formal Feast Special Instructions

What to Bring:

  • Something to sit upon

    A mat, cushion, or small stool would be best. Seating will be on the floor at small individual tables 14" from the ground, so a taller seat would be inconvenient. Please contact AnneLiese if you absolutely cannot sit in low seating but are participating in the formal feast.


  • Small bowls and trays, marked with your name

    Please bring at least 5 small bowls or trays, and up to 20 if you have them. There will be no communal serving dishes; each person's food will be presented to them in individual serving bowls. 20 sounds like a lot, but Japanese feasts consist of many small portions; condiments (salt, vinegar, soy sauce), rice, tea (which is drunk from a bowl), pickles,  various vegetable and fish dishes, each in its own dish.

    Ideally the bowls should be wooden, ceramic or lacquerware. Plastic imitation lacquerware is also appropriate, as are small bamboo trays or cups and anything else you come up with. There will be a Feastgear Collection site near the Gate in the Main Hall; please try to drop off your dishes soon after you go through the Gate (Troll). Dishes should be marked on the bottoms (supplies will be on hand for marking) and will be returned clean. There is no guarantee you will be served on your own dishes, as they will be allocated based on size, function, and aesthetics needed for each dish.


  • A pair of Chopsticks

    The Japanese are very particular about using their own chopsticks. Japanese chopsticks are short and narrow to very small tips (compared to Chinese or Korean chopsticks). They kept them in small boxes; if you haven't a box you might want to bring them in a bag for safekeeping. A chopstick rest is not necessary since you will rest your chopsticks on a plate or bowl when not in use. Chopsticks will NOT be collected with other feast gear, but if you need a pair of loaner chopsticks, inquire at the Feastgear Collection site in the Main Hall.


  • An Open Mind

    Some of the food will not be instantly recognizable to you and you don't have to like all of it. Much of the food may be served cold or room temperature. Feel free to consult the menu and ask the servers what you are eating. If you don't like a particular dish, don't feel obligated to finish it. Refills on rice and tea will be generous, and if you particularly like a dish you may inquire discreetly of the servers to find out if seconds are available (in other words, you shouldn't go away hungry!). My experiences in cooking Japanese dishes for people is that once they screw up the courage to try something they usually like it. And I don't prepare foods I don't like! 

What to Expect:

The floor will be marked with 2 rows of X's facing each other, each X representing one seat.

An hour to 30 mins. before dinner time you should place your seat where you wish to sit for dinner. Traditionally, the seats farthest from the kitchen were reserved for the host, honored guests, and the highest ranking attendees. We will not be strictly observing rank-based seating, but it might be fun to try to approximate where you think your Japanese equivalent might sit. Serving will commence farther from the kitchen and end with the people closest to the kitchen (but all attendees will get the same level of service). 

The first course will be brought to you arranged on a small low table. Dishes will be cleared only when they are empty or you request that they be taken away, and successive dishes will be added to the table as they are ready. Tea and rice bowls will ideally be refilled as soon as they are empty (but we'll have to see how busy the servers are!).

How to eat gracefully:

Practice with your chopsticks ahead of time if you're not used to eating with them. A good test is to see if you can eat a bowl of M&M's or shelled peanuts with them. But if you're certain you'll starve without a fork, bring one along (nobody is allowed to go home hungry!).

Foods will be mostly served in bite-sized pieces. Pick up pieces and place them in your mouth delicately; if possible don't touch the chopsticks with your mouth at all. Never lick your chopsticks (or if you have to, make sure nobody is looking!).

If you do encounter a large piece of something soft (like a simmered piece of fish or a large block of tofu), use the sides of your chopsticks like a knife and press a bite-sized piece away from the rest. Never skewer food; always pick it up with both chopsticks on either side of the piece.

You may pick up bowls if you are worried about the long distance between them and your mouth. For instance, rice bowls are usually held while eating. But be careful not to shovel the food directly from the bowl into your mouth with the chopsticks! That's considered very coarse behavior - something only uncivilized commoners do.

You may drink directly from a bowl if it contains liquid. For instance, if you have a bowl of soup with various items floating in it, use your chopsticks to pick up some pieces and then sip from the bowl once they are mostly chewed. Noodles in broth should be slurped so they don't lose all their liquid before getting to your mouth.

Keep a paper napkin (yes, paper was period for Japan!) tucked somewhere in your clothing in case you need to discretely wipe your mouth, fingers, or chopsticks. Napkins will be available at the Feastgear Collection site.

When you are served, one small bowl will be initially empty. It is for mixing the condiments (salt, vinegar, and soy sauce) to your liking. You may dip any dish in condiments if you so desire.

It is considered rude to eat all of one dish at a time. It is best to vary between several dishes, taking a bite of rice in between each. So you might eat a bite of fish, a bite of rice, a bite of daikon pickle, a bite of rice, a bite of vegetable, a bite of rice, etc.

Conversations were conducted in hushed tones during formal meals, but after the meal there was usually a tea or sake party where things got increasingly rowdy. Ours will be a tea party because alcohol is prohibited at the site. The servers will announce when the formal meal is over and at that point you may feel free to get up and mingle or entertain. Common entertainments included singing, dancing (by men or women, involves lots of posing with a fan), and telling jokes, stories, and poetry.

Back to the Sword and Chrysanthemum Event Page

All content copyright the author, Jennifer Munson munson.jennifer@gmail.com The author makes no guarantees for instructions and recipes on this site; neither does she accept responsibility for their outcomes. Verbatim copies may be made for educational purposes only provided they contain original copyright marking.

This page created April 4, 2001

Last updated August 02, 2005