Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art

by Shizuo Tsuji

from the publisher

Since its release twenty-five years ago, Shizuo Tsuji's encyclopedic and authoritative work has been the acknowledged "bible" of Japanese cooking. Unrivalled in its comprehensive explanation of ingredients, tools and techniques, the book guides readers through recipes with clear prose, while technical points are made understandable with deftly executed line drawings. Much more than a collection of recipes, the cookbook is a masterful treatise on Japanese cuisine. In his preface, the author (who was truly a Renaissance man of Japanese and world gastronomy) discusses the essence of Japanese cooking, with its emphasis on simplicity, balance of textures, colours, and flavours, seasonal freshness, and artful presentation. M. F. K. Fisher's introduction to the 1980 edition is a not-to-be-missed work of food writing. A new foreword by Ruth Reichl and an additional preface by Tsuji Culinary Institute president Yoshiki Tsuji provide culinary and historical context for the 25th Anniversary Edition. Eight pages of vibrant new colour photographs illustrate over seventeen finished dishes. After introducing ingredients and utensils, the twenty chapters that make up Part One consist of lessons presenting all the basic Japanese cooking methods and principal types of prepared foods - making soup, slicing sashimi, grilling, simmering, steaming, noodles, sushi, pickles, and so on - with accompanying basic recipes. Part Two features 130 carefully selected recipes that range from everyday fare to intriguing challenges for the adventurous cook. Together with the recipes in Part One, these allow the cook to build a repertoire of dishes ranging from the basic "soup and three" formula to a gala banquet. Still the foremost source book of cooking concepts and recipes from Japan, the 25th Anniversary Edition of Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art invites a new generation of readers to take a journey to the heart of one of the world's great culinary traditions.

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Original Publisher
Kodansha USA Inc
Date of publication

Recommended by

MiMi Aye

Blogger and cookbook author

As the title suggests, this is *the* book for people interested in Japanese cooking rather than just recipes. In fact, the sections are divided by technique rather than ingredient, and this in itself is an important insight into how Japanese cuisine works - dishes (and indeed courses in restaurants) are described as simmered or grilled or pickled, rather than starters and mains. Overall, a captivating insight into Japanese food and food culture, and worth the investment of time (it's a dense read) and money.

Lisa Gershenson

Food entrepreneur and culinary educator

Tsuji’s goal was not merely to present a series of recipes, but rather to teach the reader how to cook in the spirit of Japan––or as he puts it, to “lay open the heart of Japanese cuisine.” To accomplish this, the book is not organized like traditional Western cookbooks, by course or by ingredient. In the spirit of traditional Japan, it is organized by cooking methods, which is how a meal is planned.

Jill Dupleix

Food writer

This is the definitive Japanese cookbook, the one I always turn to in order to find out how things are really done, as opposed to being done for the camera, or being compromised in some other way. It’s not hip, it’s not counter-culture, it IS culture. Magnificent on detail, uncompromising. And how lovely, that MFK Fisher wrote the foreword; what a lovely synergy of cultures.

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane

Food writers

Shizuo Tsuji is a polymath with interests in Japanese cooking, classical music and travel. But his real skill is the ability to precisely describe a dish and the techniques required to prepare that dish even though it might take many pages. This is the ultimate guide to one of the world's great cuisines.

Ally-Jane Grossan

Food Blogger

Simply the best step-by-step book of how to cook the most beautiful cuisine in the world. Simple line drawings explain exactly how to cut, steam, grill and skin everything from lotus root to sea bream.

Michael Booth

Food writer

For a long time this was the only window into the amazing world of traditional Japanese cuisine, and it inspired my first visit to Japan to research ‘Sushi and Beyond’.

Darren Purchese

Chef and owner, Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio

The bible of Japanese cooking but simple to understand. Detailed recipes as well as text and illustrations. Really inspirational and a life work in one book.

Chawadee Nualkhair

Food writer

This book is comprehensive and the recipes are super clear. It’s everything you need to know about Japanese food in one book.

Merry White

Food anthropologist

Only slightly disingenuous. It helped me channel my mid 1970s year of cooking school in Japan into practical uses today.

Terry Durack

Restaurant critic, author, columnist

The Japanese cookbook translated into English by which all Japanese cookbooks translated into English should be judged.

Ivan Orkin


Still one of the great demystifying books on Japanese cuisine. Any cook serious about Japanese food should own this.

Stas Anastasiades

Operations Director Milsom Hotels & Restaurants

As well as a gorgeous unique book, the pencil illustrations are reminiscent of early editions of The Joy of Sex.

Yoshinori Ishii

Executive Chef, Umu

Easy-to-follow Japanese cooking book in English written by Tsuji-cooking school

Jon Bonné


The best book to explain the fundamentals of Japanese technique.

Luiz Hara

Blogger of The London Foodie

The bible of Japanese cooking, I use this often.

Tim Hunt


Andy Hayler

Restaurant critic

George Kao

Director of Sales, Sun Noodle

Ole Mouritsen


Shuko Oda

Koya Bar Head Chef

Matthew Abergel

Co-Owner & Executive Chef of Yardbird, RŌNIN & Sunday’s Grocery

David Kinch

Chef and Proprietor

Catherine Pantsios

Chef and culinary educator

Leslie Tay


Jonathan Hirshon

Food blogger and Tech PR

Andrew Zimmern

Creator, executive producer and host of the Bizarre Foods franchise on Travel Channel

Ruth Reichl

Writer, former editor-in-chief of Gourmet Magazine

Wylie Dufresne

Former chef and owner of wd-50 and Alder restaurants

Tim Hayward

Writer and broadcaster

Harold McGee

Author and lecturer

Scott Hallsworth

Chef and restaurateur

Tim Anderson

Chef and food writer

Aaron Wehner


Akiko Katayama

Food Writer & Radio Host/Producer

Yoshiki Tsuji

President, Tsujicho Group

John Ashburne

Writer, editor and photographer

Cindy Pawlcyn

Founder/owner of Mustards Grill, and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen

Killian Fox

Founder and editor of The Gannet