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1603 Tokugawa Ieyasu founds the Bakufu government. The construction of Edo begins. The Nihonbashi Uogashi riverside fish market is constructed to feed the builders and thence residents of Edo Castle. On the other side of the world, King James 6th becomes King of England.
1614 A monk visiting the city from Kyoto reports eating soba buckwheat noodles in a
bathhouse in the vicinity of Tokoin Temple in Nihonbashi’s Shinnawacho (today’s
Nihonbashi Honcho 4-Chome).
1634 ‘Ryori Monogatari’, the Food Story, is published. A comprehensive cooking guide it features chapters on ‘Fish of the Sea’, ‘Shore Grasses’, ‘Fish of the Rivers’, ‘Broths’, ‘Vinegared Dishes’, ‘Deserts’, ‘Tea’ and more. It is spectacularly similar to its 21st Century equivalents.
1635 The Kaminarimon ‘Thunder Gate’ is built at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. Pilgrims and tourists flock to visit, and the shopkeepers set up shop to sell souvenirs and foodstuffs. The souvenirs are often poor quality and overpriced, but the food is excellent and inexpensive. Does this ring any bells?The Shogunate restricts foreign ships and foreign trade to Nagasaki, beginning Japan’s
200+ year near-isolation from the outside world.
1657 100,000 Edo residents perish in the Great Meireki Fire. Hereafter conflagrations earn the nickname ‘Flowers of Edo’. The city’s first restaurant opens to the public, a good 108 years before such things become popular in France.
1672 Legendary haiku poet Matsuo Basho, living in Edo near to the Nihonbashi Uogashi, before he took his pen name, writes:
The first bonito of the year
They would have been alive when they left Kamakura
Shinanoya, in Nihombashi Setomoncho – today’s Nihombashi Muromachi – serves kendon soba. The broth is taremiso made with strained miso and juice derived from daikon radish, citrus zest, shiso, dried plums, and seaweed.
Mid-1600s Founder of the Mitsui business conglomerate, Takatoshi Mitsue, catches the spirit of the time, declaring, “A great peace is at hand. The shogun rules firmly and with justice at Edo. No more shall we have to live by the sword. I have seen that great profit can be made honorably. I shall brew sake and soy sauce and we shall prosper”.
1721 Edo’s population reaches 1000,000, making it the largest city in the world. Two out of three citizens are male. Many are migrant workers living apart from their wives and children. This contributes to the Edo culture fondness for dining out, and the plethora of affordable eateries.
1765 The first restaurant appears in France. At last. It is opened by a certain Monsieur Boulanger, of whom food writer Camille La Broue wrote: “Boulanger dressed like a man of quality, strutting up and down outside his shop, his sword clinking on the pavement, and the grand cordon of some order on his breast; yet this blatant charlatanry did not close any fashionable doors to him, for he mixed with all the best people of his time, guiding them in their pleasures and diversions, and inevitably leading them to his restaurant, with its daintily set out tables.”
If you liked the above, you may also be interested in:
A Brief History of Japanese Cuisine: Edo, An Introduction
A Brief History of Japanese Cuisine: Edo And Food, Overview
An Edo-Tokyo Culinary Timeline 2 (1757 to 1836): Edo Goes Foodie
An Edo-Tokyo Culinary Timeline 3 (1836 to today): Black Ships and Ramen