Shojin ryori is a type of cooking commonly practiced by Buddhist monks in Japan.
In days bygone, shojin originally meant zeal in progressing amongst the path of enlightenment or pursuing a state of mind free of worldly thoughts and attachment. In this way, the act of preparing shojin ryori is an essential practice of Buddhism that expresses one’s devotion to religious discipline.
Shojin ryori is based on simplicity and harmony and so the preparation methods follow these principles. For example, dishes are prepared with balance in colors and flavors taking into consideration, so that each meal must have a balance of 5 different colors and flavors. Nutritional balance is central to the preparation of these dishes and in addition, nothing goes to waste when preparing the dishes.
Every last piece of each ingredient is somehow incorporated into the meal. Garlic, onion and other pungent flavors are not used in shojin ryori, while standard vegetarian and vegan recipes do not prohibit the use of such ingredients. According to Buddhist philosophy, all sentient (living) beings have the possibility of attaining enlightenment. In line with this doctrine, the use of meat, fish, or insects is prohibited in the preparation of shojin ryori meals. So it’s really suitable for the vegetarians!
The best place to try shojin ryori is at one of the restaurants at a temple. There is a temple “Yakuohin” in Takaosan. You can have a traditional shojin meal and got healther in Japan! Interesting? Please check it out!