Crown Tourney 10/19/2019 - Honzen Ryori Style

The Tokugawa Shoguns

Through my research I discovered that there are three different styles of traditional Japanese cooking; Yusoku Ryori (court cuisine), honzen ryori (dishes for feudal lords) and kaseiki ryori (formal dinners).  The style that was chosen for this banquet was Honzen Ryori, whose roots are in the gishiki ryori (ceremonial cooking) exclusive to nobility in the Heian period (794-1185) (Kodansha).

The basic menu is one soup and three sides (considered minimum fare), which is referred to as ichijū-sansai (一汁三菜) . The number of soups and side dishes could vary from two to three soups, with three, five, seven or eleven accompanying side dishes.  Rice which is a basic staple food and pickles are not counted as side dishes. Although, the menu for Crown Tourney feast contained a staggering number of dishes (33 over three courses and a sweets tray), the soups, rice and pickles should not be considered in the final count of dishes that were served per course. In the first course, there were seven dishes, five in the second course and three in the third course.

A Honzen Ryori style meal would begin in a separate room with a formal ceremony called shiki-sankon. This ceremony is the precursor to the three times three exchange of cups at traditional Shinto weddings.  During the ceremony (shiki), a cup of sake would be paired with a side dish and drunk in three gulps.  This would occur three times (sankon) in total. Typical side dishes that were served to Iemitsu included dried sea cucumber intestines, abalone, wheat gluten soybeans and sweet seaweed

The diners would then go into a seperate room where the meal was served.  The food would be served on trays called suzuri-buta.   Food would be served in three courses; ichi-no-zen (first), ni-no zen (second), and san-no zen (third).  The Honzen Ryori style of service is believed to have originated in the 14th century. Three trays was typical for shoguns, while most samurai were limited to two trays of food. Larger banquets during the Muromachi period could have up to thirty-two dishes, including dishes that were meant to be decorative and not eaten.  Iemitsu's banquet in 1630 followed a seven, five, three format, which was the inspiration for the menu that was created and served at Crown Tourney feast. This is a typical style of service for Shogun in the Edo period (Rath).

When serving the food it is typical to place a bowl of rice to the left and soup to the right.  Behind the rice and the soup would sit three flat plates, one to the far left behind the rice, one to the far right behind the soup, and one in the middle. Pickled vegetables would be served on the side.  Chopsticks would then be placed in the very front of the tray supported by a hashioki (chopstick rest). Rice would be served in its own bowl, and the remaining items would be served either on small plates (sara) or small bowls (hachi) in individual portions. The number of dishes served on each tray varied depended upon the diners rank. For example, high ranking retainers would only receive five dishes on the main tray, while a shogun would receive seven, not counting salt, pickles or rice.

Stacked Red Lacquered Sake Cups


     Eric C Rath. (2013, June 9). Retrieved from

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     Kodansha. (1993). Japan: an illustrated encyclopedia. Tokyo.

     Stacked Red Lacquered Sake Cups for Elegant Ceremonies on Formal Occasions. (n.d.). Retrieved from