Probably the most versatile dish in the entire Japanese food scene, the eminent donburi is known for its many variants and endless combinations of ingredients.
Mention rice to a Japanese and many will acknowledge it as their “soul food”. As a staple in their diet, the quality and tastiness of donburi play a big part in their lives. But what exactly is donburi and how did it come about? This article will address its very beginning.
Origins of the word:
donburi (丼, rice bowl)
To understand what donburi is, let us first take a deeper look into the character that makes up this dish. The Japanese word for donburi is written as 丼, or 丼ぶり. Some might recognise this as the Chinese character for “a well” (井), only with an extra stroke in the centre.
It is said that the character itself represents plunking something in the middle of a well―which is why there is a stroke in the centre of “井”. In this case, it would be plopping rice into a bowl. The sound “don” from donburi is also onomatopoeic.
The Dawn of Rice Cultivation in Japan
When talking about donburi, the rice beneath the toppings cannot be ignored. To understand how the dish was first conjured, we must first be aware of the advent of rice cultivation in Japan.
Rice was first introduced to Japan from China between 300 and 100 BC together with wetland rice farming techniques.
This agricultural technological advancement marked the beginning of the Yayoi Period for Japan. During this point, the concept of donburi has not manifested yet, but rice was eaten with other sides as a meal.
The Japanese first conceived the idea vaguely in the form of adding vegetables and dashi broth over rice. This manner of eating was commonly referred to as hōhan (芳飯) during the Muromachi Period (1330s – 1570s), and was also considered to be a religious dish of sorts. From there, with the evolution of the economy and society, a myriad of donburi types sprung forth.
Come this October, get ready to dive into a bowl of endless possibilities at Singapore’s first-ever Japanese rice and Donburi event! Get your hands on Do-It-Yourself rice bowl from 19 to 21 Oct’18 at Marina Square Central Atrium. We will be rolling out features about Japanese rice or Donburi till then. This time, we looked at the origins of Donburi. Next, we will cover the development of donburi in detail in an upcoming article so stay tuned!
WAttention presents Donburi Revolution!
Date: 19 – 21 Oct 2018
Venue: Marina Square Central Atrium