Across the Pacific coast of northeastern Asia, lies an Island country consisting of four major and several smaller islands, Japan. Immigration to the United States took place during the 1880s. At this time there was high demand for immigrant labor in regards to building railroads First generation immigrants from Japan, also known as Issei, were recruited. The Issei helped to build the Great Northern, Northern Pacific, Oregon Short Line and other railroads in the Columbia River Basin. The prominent religions in Japan are Shinto and Buddhism.
According to Shintoism, illness and disease, are considered unclean and impure. Buddhism has a different approach to illness and disease, they believe it is part of the life cycle, a natural process. In the article “Healthcare Beliefs of the Japanese” by Lynn Blanch, the writer informs that the Japanese believe that much illness stems from the interruption of the flow of Qi, translating roughly to “energy.
” Kampo is a very popular form of healing that uses medicinal herbs to restore the flow of Qi. Blanch also adds that another traditional Japanese therapy is Shiatsu massage in which pressure is applied to specific points on the body, also with the aim of restoring Qi. Acupuncture is also practiced by inserting needles into specific points of the body for the release of toxins and for pain-relief. The popularity of Buddhism during the 700s led prohibit eating meat. The popular dish, sushi (raw fish with rice) came about as a result of this ban.
In the 1800s, cooking styles became simpler. Rice and noodles are the two primary staples of the Japanese diet. Rice, either boiled or steamed, is served at every meal. Noodles come in many varieties.
Among the most popular are soba, thin brown noodles made from buckwheat flour; udon, thick white noodles made from wheat flour; and ramen, thin, curly noodles, also made from wheat flour . Soy sauce and other soybean products are also staples in Japan. These include miso (fermented soybean paste) and tofu (a soybean curd that resembles custard). Other common ingredients in Japanese food include bamboo shoots, daikon (a giant white radish), ginger, seaweed, and sesame seed products. Japanese pickles called tsukemono are served at every meal. Seafood is also plentiful in this island nation. Green tea is the national beverage of Japan, although black tea is also available. Sake and beer are also very popular.
Two uniquely Japanese foods are sushi (fresh raw seafood with rice) and sashimi (fresh raw seafood with soy sauce); both rely on freshly caught fish or seafood. The most important holiday in Japan is the New Year, Shogatsu. Special holiday foods, called osechi , are prepared in beautifully decorated stackable boxes called jubako. Each layer of the box has compartments for several different foods. Glazed sardines, bamboo shoots, sweet black beans, and chestnuts in sweet potato paste are just a few of the many holiday foods. New Year foods are also eaten because they are believed to represent good fortune or long life.
At New Year’s, children are especially fond of hot rice cakes dipped in sweet soybean powder.According to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “studies on eating patterns among the Japanese immigrants to the USA have previously shown that Japanese-Americans consumed a diet higher in animal fats and simple carbohydrates, and lower in complex carbohydrates than Japanese individuals consuming a traditional diet. Further, a consistent relationship has been demonstrated between the acculturated diet of Japanese-Americans and the prevalence of diet-related chronic diseases among this population. The mortality rate of coronary heart disease experienced by Japanese-Americans during the 1960s, for instance, was lower than the mortality rate of the USA, but higher than that of Japan.” These studies show how changes in lifestyle and acculturation affect health, nutrition, and diet of the Japanese-Americans.