"Dumplings rather than blossoms," says a Japanese proverb. After all, what is the beauty of scenery to a hungry man, or what avails the color of some antique treasure to the unfed stomach? The picture of hoary immortals, habitually "feeding on the clouds of the heavens and the mist of the earth" is found in the ancient classics only, no longer read or believed in. That food is an essential of life and of human happiness is so taken for granted that whatever form of human enjoyment, be it picnic or foreign travel, is tacitly understood to include satisfactory, if not luxurious, eating. If a great metropolis like Paris, London or New York, is generally conceded to be a desirable city to visit, its credit is partly, or in a very large measure, sustained by the reputation that good eating is guaranteed there. Whenever much-traveled friends get together for an informal chat, they must talk not so much about what they have seen, as about what they have eaten.
Now what are the possibilities of eating well in Japan? We can declare without either exaggeration or boasting that no finer eating is possible in any other country. Indeed, there is a question of taste, and every good taste is to be cultivated. One must have an educated taste for any good thing before he may thoroughly enjoy it. This rule applies to Japanese food, as it has peculiar features, not found in the food of any other country.