The truth of taste

Introduction : Author : Kenjiro Kinoshita

Foreword : Friend : Dr. Shibasaburo Kitazato

Commentary : Yasuhide Kawada

Comments : Comments on related words



Author : Kenjiro Kinoshita

This book discusses all aspects of food preparation and human served diet, together it describes the taste and habits of foods, animals and plants and the like. The differences from ordinary cookbooks is mainly to investigate the essence of seasoning, capture its principle, apply this method directly to each dish and general diet, and also cooking as kind of art, and it is an attempt to treat it as academics area. Unfortunately I couldn't handle all of area, but even so my will is to open up a new aspect in each field, expect to improve hobbies and profits, and contribute to enriching our lives.

Regarding the habits of foods, animals and plants, etc. there are quite a lot of such a kind of books in western also the gist is clear. it is biased on logic and far from real. Jyokei Emura said, "Confucian houses do not have much knowledge of farmers, farmers do not have knowledge of poetry, It is useless to mix both of them." and I think this word is true. Although I can not say that I know things from farmers, I am describing it based on a little experience and the feelings I got from that, sometimes I am also adopting the theory of contemporary scholars.

In addition, as reference books, I often did many references from Chinese old books that have been abandoned and forgotten. So it may seem odd, but it is not necessarily the case. Because many organisms in Japan have the same characteristics as those in China with their lines and properties, also because of their special relationships from ancient times even in humanities. Therefore it makes sense that the Orient thing is better to be researched by Oriental academic. However, China's theory of paradoxes is based on the imagination specific to the Chinese sometimes, there are a lot of unrealistic expression. Although I try to avoid these harmful effects as much as possible, please understand that sometimes it may become nonscientific.

I am a political party member, not a writer. Also I am not relate with acdemic area. Also this book was written while spending a little of free time, while being chased by odd job of the political party day and night. So I can not escape criticism with many errors. In addition, at the time of the first draft, it was supposed to be described over the whole of animals and plants, but there was circumstance to hurry publication from the middle, it was written only a part of fish and other animals. This has become quite different from my real intention. Therefore, I hope to be able to start writing again later, about the remaining cereals, fruits, vegetables, mountain beasts, mountain goats, livestock and so on.

December, 1924

Author : Kenjiro Kinoshita


Shibasaburo Kitazato

The author of Bimikyushin [美味求真] is an outstanding figure over the gastronomic path. Also he can be called a Taoists who enlightened about the taste. There are many people who are called gourmand in the world, and collection hobby is not rare. However, there is no one who have accumulated serious research as much as this author in this matter, and gathering knowledge of learning. This author will be able to say the first person who reads well, studies well, ultimately seeks delicacy naturally, and attempts to explore the technique of nature in this matter, and the taste of the world will be greatly enlightened by this author.

This book feels like a meal that was fully spread out on the table. Because I can feel that everything is being discussed in the seven houndred verses in the eight chapters, from the theory of ancient times to the east west feast competition, the taste of taste, the rare of gastronomy, the odds of bad eating and the final part of fish. Moreover amazing abundant materials are depicted with interesting and tastefully, everyone will be satisfied after reading.

Not only he know the taste, also knows how to teach other people the way to taste it. Authors with skill to handle snapping turtle have the skill to easily disassemble the complication problems in politics also, for him, it should not be difficult to seasoning anything by just right way. As you can see in the book, if people eat delicious cuisine, the heart of the world will be calm. In modern difficult time, I hope the people of the world satisfy with the deliciousness of the author.

The author's taste is quite wide. He reads books of all times and places, and has been selected up from politics, literature, museums, geography, history, medical care, etc. also contained the theory of nutrition. In addition, the author respects the experience and seems to take grasp of all the delicacies of Japan, China and western. The story of the classic Fèng gān lóng nǎo [ 鳳肝龍脳:phoenix's liver and doragon's brain ] is also interesting, but the commentary on the realistic gastronomy is quite true and interesting. Among them, the place where the most exciting is on is the part of the snapping turtle. It can be read as the authors' own story that to scoop the water of the abyss and feel how many snapping turtles live in there. I think this part will be the highlight in this book. The next highlight is the part about Nabe(pot) of globefish. The author explained it "the Jade of Heaven and the bizarre taste in the world of spirits." I can say this kind of expression appears as an aesthetic attitude of the author.

The result of the idea of a scientist who tried to eat many cuisines up is the discovery of Ajinomoto, No matter how much this author studies the taste, it will not cause such unnatural thoughts. The author is not a scientist and arguing the taste is not the same as science. and the author's responsibility is not reserching the fact that the tedlotoxin is in the liver and ovary of globefish, rather to reserch the best partner of the globefish Nabe is Dai-dai orange, etc. But through this book, it is clear that the author has abundant scientists' talents. From animal, plant and ancient biology to the latest calorie meter, vitamin, Pilkey's Nem's nutrition theory, trying of the author to keep these in his brain is an amazing knowledge desire. If he had an ambition towards this direction from childhood he must have become a great natural scientist. It is truly regrettable that the author cast himself to the political activities and it should be said that it was a big loss on human resources. Nevertheless it is utterly admirable that an old author in the political world has the depth of knowledge, if even it as hobby.
Fortunately, the future is full of hope for the author. In the future, if he focus on science more and more, he will succeed in making special side to modern science, and I think that he will be more and more useful for the world. I really want to see it.

January, 1925

Friend : Shibasaburo Kitazato


Transrate and comment : Yasuhide Kawada

Bimikyushin [美味求真] is a book of encyclopedic knowledge and full of memory. The extensive knowledge on the "food" of Japan, China and western mentioned here is astounding and I believe that it has both hardness and content to be read for gourmets in modern time still. If you read 『Suiyuan Shidan』 of Yuan Mei and 『Physiologie du goût』 of Brillat-Savarin, you will realize that Bimikyushin [美味求真] has high quality contents same as these.

Bimikyushin were published around 90 years ago by Kenjiro Kinoshita.( It was 1925 ) However, even in the modern time, the value of the philosophy written there has not deteriorated at all. Because what is written there is a philosophy based on "food" and because it is also a culture.

Kenjiro Kinoshita's background of knowledge is a system of knowledge of Chinese thought mainly. Of course, Japanese history, culture, thought, western literature and history are abundantly included, but the depth of knowledge of Kenjiro Kinoshita's Chinese writing and Chinese thought is amazed.

Indeed, the world of Japanese cuisine can see traces of the great influence of Chinese thought in various points. And there are Yin and Yang philosophy exists in thought background, and Japanese unconsciously accept it as a natural thing. For example, in Japanese cuisine, collected of vessels are arranged in odd numbers such as 3, 5, and 7, but this is because odd numbers are positive numbers, that'a way Japanese foods value asymmetry. Also, when making Sashimi, blue fish such as tuna or mackerel are cut by Yang side of kitchen knife, it is called Hira-zukuri [flat cutting]. these are served by a square shape plate [Yin shape] to balance. On the other hand, white fish such as flounder and globefish are cut thin by Yin side of the kitchen knife, it is called Usu-zukuri [thin cutting]. so it is supposed to be served by round plate [Yang shape] to balance. Interestingly, also like plastic tray plates that are using in supermarkets in modern times are certainly following this theory. There are a square tray plate and a round tray plate, each kind of sashimi are divided by Yin and Yung, arranged to the corresponding tray. From the viewpoint of convenience, It is reasonable to use the same tray without distinguish between the round plate and the square plate. However if we don't obey it we would feel a sense of incongruity. This is because something like a code is naturally embedded in our culture and there is a Chinese thought at the root of that.

This time, In the process of making "Bimikyushin" into modern languages, I became aware of the system of knowledge of Chinese thought and the depth of systematic knowledge. I hope that it is possible to provide readers with the opportunity to deepen their understanding of "Bimikyushin" while clarifying these points in the comment section.
Also on this site, I made remarks comments in quantities far exceeding this book. Because I would like to try to paint by my encyclopedic knowledge and full of memory on same encyclopedic knowledge and full of memory book which is "Bimikyushin". This is also an attempt to overcoat "Bimikyushin" using my encyclopedic knowledge.
This is certainly a tough task, but in terms of collecting various sources and materials, we have a much more convenience than the past researchers. Actually, a large amount of knowledge and information are included in the Internet, and such information archives are increasing year by year. It was very thrilling that the process of finding out such a large amount of documents or the original source of the source and constructing own thoughts and writing about my thoughts from them. I hope you could feel same as me by my translation of "Bimikyushin" and my comments.

We will return to the essence of food by "Bimikyushin" again, it pursue what is palatable and serve as a guide to reach there. From the time this book was written, the background and taste preferences for food is different probably, but in essence points, we can be able to perceptible that it doesn't change anything from this book. I hope that "Bimikyushin" are read again in modern gourmet time, and are understood these contents well.

24th June, 2014

Yasuhide Kawada