Search for the secret of longevity of Japanese people

Ichiju-sansai (one soup and three side dishes) is the wisdom of Japanese people’s diet

According to the “World Health Statistics 2015” announced by WHO, the average life span of Japanese men and women combined is 84 years, the longest in the world. The average life span of Chinese people is 75 years when men and women are combined and that of American people is 79 years. Throughout the world Japan is seen as a country where many people live very long. Why is the life span of Japanese people this long? There are many opinions as to its reason, but one that is drawing attention for being most probable is the diet and meals of Japanese people.

Gorgeous Japanese cuisine
Traditional Japanese food was cultured and refined to be made into the gorgeous Japanese cuisine

Japanese food has been drawing even more attention since Japanese cuisine was added to UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list in 2013. When Japanese food is discussed, the image usually focuses on the delicate flavor that makes the best of the original taste of the ingredient and gorgeous presentation of the dishes as if it is showing four seasons , which is often that of expensive meals served at a high-class Japanese restaurant. Such Japanese food was completed after Japanese traditional meals were cultured and refined. However, what has contributed to the longevity of Japanese people is their daily diet.

The secret to longevity lies in the daily food of Japanese people
The secret to longevity lies in the daily food of Japanese people

There is a phrase “Ichiju-sansai” that expresses the daily meals of Japanese people. It means one soup, such as miso soup, and three side dishes, but it also means a “well-balanced meal” at the same time. During the Edo period (1603 – 1867), a luxurious meal sometimes had 2 to 3 kinds of soup, but it is said that ordinary people usually had one kind of soup, so the idea of Ichiju-sansai probably came from the wisdom of ordinary people. In reality, a well-balanced meal is completed when rice, which is a staple food, is added to Ichiju-sansai.

Pickles (Japanese fermented food using ingredients such as vegetables)

Pickles (Japanese fermented food using ingredients such as vegetables) is also a dish indispensable for the daily meals of Japanese people

The secret of “Umami” flavor in Dashi (Japanese soup stock) is amino acid

What’s indispensable for soup is Dashi (Japanese soup stock) that adds “Umami” flavor. “Umami” is mentioned as the 5th taste when Japanese food is discussed. Dashi with Umami in it is sometimes felt as “tasteless” by itself. But if you add a little bit of salt or soy sauce to it, the flavor changes completely. This “Umami” flavor has something to do with the amino acids that come out of seafood and seaweed.

Umami flavor is indispensable for Japanese food
Umami flavor in Dashi is an indispensable element for Japanese food
The ingredients of Dashi are seafood and seaweed.
The ingredients for ordinary Dashi are seafood and seaweed

Amino acids are made when protein is decomposed and absorbed in the body of human being. “Sakana Marugoto Pepuchido Ricchi” (whole fish rich in peptides) is a “natural Dashi and soup”, which makes use of peptides that are made one step before protein is decomposed and absorbed as amino acids. The benefit of peptides is the small size of its molecules, which greatly helps to absorb nutrients. Because of its excellent absorption, it is sometimes called a “drinking drip”. In addition amino acids provide antioxidative effects and improvement to the immune system.

Sakana Marugoto Pepuchido Ricchi is easy to use
Sakana Marugoto Pepuchido Ricchi is easy to use as Dashi

Its essence is extracted from the entire fish from head to bones caught in Japan (sardines and bonitos). All the oil is drawn out of fish using a special production method and the fish is dried at low temperature so the activation of important ingredients will not be broken. In the essence extracted through this process, kelp, Shiitake mushrooms and odorless garlic are added and no chemical synthetic additives are used. You can use it as Dashi for cooking and also eat it as soup by dissolving it in hot water.

You can eat it as soup
Dissolve it in hot water and eat it as soup

Okawari(one more serving) is part of the food culture that has rice as a staple food

There is a word “Okawari” (one more serving) in Japanese meals. It is sometimes said that “Okawari” of soup is allowed only once in the manners of Ichiju-sansai. What’s interesting is that, when it comes to rice, finishing the meal with Ichi-zen (one bowl) of rice without having “Okawari” is called “Ichi-zen Meshi” and it is considered to be impolite.

Let's try Okawari of rice
Let’s try “Okawari” of rice during your trip in Japan

Ordinary people sometimes had only two or one side dishes instead of three in their meals and no side dishes when they had extremely simple meals. The plain diet of just rice, soup and pickles was often seen in the daily life of ordinary people in old times. Japanese people used to eat small amount of side dishes with a large amount of rice and fulfilled their calorie quantity with rice. Rice is indispensable for the diet of Japanese people and the source of energy that has created and supported the body of Japanese people for a long period of time. Rice plays a partial role in the long life of current Japanese people.

Rice is indispensable for Japanese people's diet
Rice is indispensable item for Japanese people’s diet

High-quality rice does not grow without high-quality soil. With the hope for their own children to grow healthy, farmers started rice farming, developed an additive-free fertilizer over 10 years and made healthy soil where microbes live together without using any agricultural chemicals or chemical fertilizer. Rice grown in this soil is “Amino Saikuru Rice”.

Amino Koji
Amino Koji made by fermenting rare rice grown with no agricultural chemicals

Amino Koji is a basic skin-care product that contains abundant amino acids necessary for skin, made by fermenting rare rice grown with no chemical fertilizer in Hokkaido. After seeing the improvement in the skin of children who ate “Amino Saikuru Rice”, people considered that amino acids and the ingredients in the rice might be contributing to making the skin better, which was the beginning of the product development. They made Koji (steamed rice fermented with koji mold) by fermenting rice grown carefully and blended it in a basic skin-care product. “Amino Saikuru Rice” contains abundant amino acids and fermenting it increases the amino acids even more.

Reexamine your diet using the wisdom of Ichiju-sansai

The Ichiju-sansai meal is the wisdom in Japanese people’s diet to have a well-balanced meal with side dishes and rice, which is a staple, as a main dish. Side dishes are made mainly with seasonal vegetables and fish and by having them with rice, you can take in nutrients necessary for human body efficiently. The kinds of main dish and side dishes differ for each country, but if you look at your daily meals considering the number of dishes in the idea of “Ichiju-sansai”, you may find a hint for longevity. Learn about Ichiju-sansai, the wisdom of Japanese ordinary people, and enjoy a healthy life!

Tea is the key for longevity

Yosai Zenji (1141 – 1215), the tea founder of Japan who is known to have lived long, wrote in his book “Kissa Yojoki” (Drink Tea and Prolong Life) that you would live long if you drink tea. Tea has a variety of effects including antioxidative effects by catechin. “Kyo amacha (Matcha)” is a sweetened Matcha which uses green powdered tea made in Kyoto, and can be enjoyed by everyone from children to elderly people. You can taste a delicious tea with Japanese quality.

Kyo amacha (Matcha)
Kyo amacha (Matcha)

Keep your skin young with “Bayu” (horse oil)

Bayu, or horse oil, contains abundant polyunsaturated fatty acids and α-linolenic acids, which is an essential fatty acid, and it is considered to be effective for improving blood circulation and promoting healthy skin through improved blood circulation. By applying Bayu on your skin and massaging it, the blood circulation is improved and the metabolism becomes more active, which prevents wrinkles. “Nihon Jun Kokusan Bayu” (Japanese pure horse oil) was made with horse fat made in Japan. You can use it for your daily skin care.

Nihon Jun Kokusan Bayu
Nihon Jun Kokusan Bayu

Contact information for the products introduced in this article

Contact below for “Sakana Marugoto Pepuchido Ricchi” “Amino Koji” “Kyo amacha (Matcha)” “Nihon Jun Kokusan Bayu” introduced in this article