» Articles: Oh! Bento!

Some examples of Buddhist/ascetic dishes from the Shonai region/Dewa Sanzan (Yamagata):


      "A drop of water is a blessing of heaven and earth
A grain of rice is the result of many forces and great labour
       Understanding the depth of complexity involved
                             I humbly accept this food.
                                Itadakimasu (I accept)"

“..Dewa Sanzan Shojin Ryori originally developed from the sustainable way of life practiced by the Yamabushi. The foods taken from the mountains are eaten near the mountains.."

Dewa no Hakusantou Gomadofu (crushed sesame seeds boiled in water and chilled like tofu); refers to the island on the Yura coast where the founder, Prince Hachiko arrived

Gassan no Kakegoya: Bamboo shoots from Mt. Gassan simmered with fried tofu

Haguro Shugen no Saito: Bracken flavored with ginger

Nishibudaraku: Udo (mountain vegetable) with sesame seed and miso dressing

Shishigo no Taki: Soup with nameko mushrooms and tofu

Hijiriyama no Shunju: Bamboo shoots from Mt. Gassan, shiitake mushroom tempura; Hijiriyama is where Prince Hachiko built a rush-thatched cottage and underwent harsh ascetic practices

Haraigawa no Kakehashi: oil-roasted butterbur

Omine no Fubuki: Broiled nameko mushrooms and tofu

Yura no Minato-age: Ground tofu, asakusa seaweed, ginger

Gassan no Yakeyama (takenori in a sake, soy sauce, and vinegar sauce)

Tonburi with miso, Japanese knotweed and koshiabura (mountain vegetable) flavored with sweet vinegar, udo and fuki-no-to(mountain vegetable) with miso dressing, bracken and yams, red ostrich fern with spicy soy sauce, 2 types of seasonal mountain vegetables with gomadofu (crushed sesame seeds boiled in water and chilled like tofu) and sauce (nettle, lily bulb).

Deep-fried tofu simmered with edamame, roasted and simmered akamizu (mountain vegetable)

Urui (mountain vegetable) tonpura (bamboo shoots from Mt. Gassan, Fatsia sprouts, ostrich fern, koshiabura)


The following article by Dr. Megumi Miyata has been translated and reproduced from the Shugendo Cultural Studies Association  magazine.

The body is itself that which you eat

Life for many has become marked by an unprecedented level of convenience whereby a large amount of daily activity and work can now be performed while seated.

If we take for granted the saying 'You are what you eat', what impact is this modern lifestyle having on our bodies?

The hallmarks of this kind of convenience add up to become the cause of what we now label lifestyle related diseases. In times gone before when obtaining food required greater effort carrying 'Obento' was an integral part of life.

Nowadays food has become standardised, predictable and efficient; we are able to easily obtain it wherever we are without giving any thoughts to its preparation or origin.

This convenience is driven by a mind set which seeks to accumulate profit and reduce production and material costs.

The way we have organised society has had an impact on the nutritional value of the food we eat and much of the food we eat is damaging to our health.

Carrying the lessons of 'Obento' in this situation can be a way to protect our bodies and minds.

The attention to detail given in the way Obteno lunch boxes are arranged reduces damage to the food while on the move, while at the same time keeping the food fresh and retaining its taste and smell. Obento is made with this image in mind and care is taken with each individual portion. If we focus on portability we should choose products made from alloy etc. If the sensibilities of this way of thinking resonate with you then you should try the traditional craft of the Obento lunchbox

Japanese traditional crafts come with a price, but they will last the test of time and develop character. The contents of the Obento develop our body and the Obento can be revered as a transporter of life.

As nature awakens between the periods of Winter and Spring, the sun's bright rays reach our body and mind. At this time, we take young leaves and shoots into our body, sending a signal to our body clock. Early Spring is the season where we should eat buds and stems. Seasonal asparagus has become more widely available and makes an excellent ingredient for Obento because it is easy to prepare and looks appealing. As plants begin to sprout they produce their beneficial properties. Sprouted broccoli and soybeans for example have known anti cancer properties. When purchasing food from a supermarket it is easy to forget that vegetables have seasons. Like in Shugendo, it is important to understand the natural rhythms and cycles of life.

I'll make Obento with all my love.

Translated by Jisho.

Some Shojin dishes and sansai (山菜 mountain vegetables) to enjoy with your eyes:

夏の虹色サラダ Rainbow rainbow salad in summer

Chrysanthemum, Vermicelli, cucumber, burdock, spring onion, radish sprouts, paprika, orange flesh, lemon flesh

rice wine vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce

アカシアの天ぷら Acacia Tempura

It is the taste of the season to look forward to, the sweetness of honey spreads to the mouth!
Spring is about to end and move to early summer

ゴボ Dusted Burdock

Chilled tomato marinated with honey

Add honey to the hot-boiled tomato and chill it in the refrigerator. Juice may be put together with shochu (rice wine) in tomato. 

Summer vegetables and radish bonito

Steamed figs & Bonito 
The figs are peeled and steamed, seasoned with bean paste.

Shojin cuisine of Yamagata
Fruit salad made with a combination of surprising ingredients. You will be surprised at the punchy taste that you will not forget once you eat it. Peach, rock salt, balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil. Chill in the refrigerator. Other than peach, peone (skin peel), mango, papaya, persimmon, pear or banana also work. Try it in various ways

Yamabushitake mushroom
This strange looking mushroom has long been thought to improve mental capacity, mental clarity and focus, improve nerve function, and to encourage nerve regeneration. This is called the Yamabushi mushroom both due to its use by ascetics and its appearance similar to Bonten (pompoms/streamers).

行者葫 Gyojaninniku 
Also called the Siberian onion or pukusa in Ainu. This onion comes into season for foraging from early to mid-May. The Ainu traditionally gather the leaves (but not the whole bulb), which are chopped up and dried for future use. Used in Ainu dishes like ohaw (オハウ) or ratashkep (rataskep) (ラタシケプ) stews.

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