What is OBANZAI? A Study Report (4/4)

3. Rules in Obanzai
Obanzai has rules. With the rules, Obanzai has been inherited over the history as a tradition. Yet, at this point it is difficult to determine what constitutes the rules of Obanzai. As explained earlier, in Obanzai, vegetables are the major ingredients and stewing is the most common cooking method. Likewise, the basic pattern of an Obanzai meal comprises one soup and three courses. These “rules,” however, are by no means definite and fixed.
Obanzai is a cuisine culture, and a culture changes over the time. Hence, it is hardly possible to figure out rules in Obanzai that are applicable everywhere across its long history. All we can do is an analysis of Obanzai’s rules in a certain time period or a single household, although the reader may find some of the descriptions provided above helpful to detect patterns, if not definite rules, of Obanzai.

Up to this point we have discussed what constitutes Obanzai. With the result of the discussion, I meant to publish a definition of Obanzai and provide recommendations toward better preservation of the cuisine culture. Unfortunately, however, at this point this paper can put forward no concrete recommendations, but only descriptive analyses of Obanzai.
In the meantime, it is the case that little research has been done as to Obanzai. The available literature concerns mostly Shige O’mura’s works, which has had much to do with the shape of today’s Obanzai. And thus the present investigation also has ended up focusing mainly on her works.
The next question should address in detail the mechanism through which Obanzai has been inherited over the time. For that purpose, more careful research methods and approaches, including concrete case studies, are to be developed and employed. More case studies will allow us to fulfill what is still missing in this paper and grasp the entire contour of Obanzai more clearly.
Lastly, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the members of Obanzai Workshop and especially the preliminary group, who devoted precious time to the research despite their busy schedule.


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