Honzen-ryōri (本膳料理?) is one of three basic styles of Japanese cuisine and a highly ritualized form of serving food, in which prescribed dishes are carefully arranged and served on legged trays; full-course dinner, regular dinner. Honzen has largely disappeared since the mid 20th century, though a few restaurants still serve what they bill as honzen ryōri. It largely survives today as one of the main influences of kaiseki cuisine.
Honzen arose among warrior households in the Muromachi period (14th century), in contrast to the earlier yūsoku ryōri (有職料理?) (9th century) of the aristocracy. This corresponded with the rise and subsequent entrenchment of the power of the warrior class viz-a-viz the nobility.
During the Muromachi period after the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in the 14th century, there developed an elaborate formal system of meal-serving, known as (honzen-ryōri (本膳料理?). It would begin with the shiki-sankon (式三献? "triple round of drinks"), the remnant of which is the san san kudo exchanged between the groom in the bride in traditional Japanese weddings. A typical pattern is shichigosan (七五三? "7-5-3"), which may refer to three trays bearing with 7, 5, and 3 dishes, though there seems to be different interpretations, and others have suggested this indicates the triple round of drinks, followed by 5 rounds, then by 7 trays. The meals for guests are served on sanpō (三方?), where the tray (technically called oshiki (折敷?)) is supported underneath by a boxlike frame with three of the sides hollowed by large holes. A quadruple-holed tray-set would be reserved for the Imperial house. (This is somewhat surprising, since the four-holed tray, considered unlucky, was used in later samurai society only to bring the Tantō knife to the person sentenced or granted permission to perform seppuku.)[original research?]
- Heibonsha (1969) . 世界百科事典(Sekai hyakka jiten). (world encyclopedia, in Japanese)
- Rath 2010, Chap. 3, Ceremonial Banquets, p.61-; 66-
- Hyper Tokyo: A Look at the Closing Gap on Japanese Culture
- Kiea.jp, Traditional Japanese Cuisine, PDF format
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