An Edo-Tokyo Culinary Timeline
Part 3 (1836 To Today)

Black Ships & Ramen


The rice harvest fails and in the resultant famine, the government decides to supply commoners with okayu rice porridge and financial assistance. Farm workers change their staple diet from rice to cereals. The sale and production of udon, tofu, soba and somen is temporarily forbidden, presumably to control profiteering.

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Commodore Matthew Perry’s ‘black ships’ sail into Edo bay. Gunboat diplomacy forces Japan to open to the West. Mirin, previously drunk as an ‘upper class’ alcoholic beverage or ceremonial offering, begins to be used as a sweetener in cooking, giving rise to Edo favorites eel kabayaki, mentsuyu the dark, rich dipping sauce used for cold soba and udon noodles, teriyaki and sukiyaki.


Aromatic, dark soy sauce has replaced the lighter Kansai Western Japan-style sauce, partly as it served to disguise the poor quality of the city’s water. Sushi, soba buckwheat noodles and tempura are all readily available at portable street stalls everywhere.

Edo Edo Period Foreigners Edo Era1868

Edo is renamed Tokyo, and the ‘Edo Period’ officially ends.


Samurai districts make up 70% of the city’s urban district, 15% shrines and temples, the remainder ordinary townsfolk accommodation.


The Rickshaw is purportedly invented by Izumi Yosuke.


The Kokugikan National Sumo Arena is constructed.


The city’s first ramen shop, Rairaiken, opens in Asakusa, where Ozaki Kenichi creates a shoyu soy sauce based sauce, and serves its containing  Shina soba ‘Chinese noodles’, charshiu roast pork, and nori seaweed with naruto fishcake. It is effectively the birth of Tokyo-style ramen that remains today.


 In the wake of the Great Kanto Earthquake Nihonbashi Uogashi traders relocate
to the newly constructed Tsukiji Shijo Market.


Allied bombing of Tokyo results in up to 200,000 civilian deaths with 1 million people displaced.



A survey reveals that Tokyo residents still get about 70% of daily energy needs from white rice and other grains.


Tokyo hosts the 18th Olympic Games marking the nation’s return to the world stage.


Tokyo is once again chosen to host the Olympics, this time in 2020.


The proposed relocation of the Tsukiji Market to Toyosu is postponed due to worries over soil contamination, corruption.

If you liked the above you might like:
A Brief History of Japanese Cuisine: Edo, An Introduction
A Brief History of Japanese Cuisine: Edo And Food, Overview
An Edo-Tokyo Culinary Timeline 1 (1603 to 1756): Soba From The Start
An Edo-Tokyo Culinary Timeline 2 (1757 to 1836): Edo Goes Foodie

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