Kasaneru (To add layers)
Japanese style originates in the idea of adding layers
Tang culture was introduced from China to Japan during the Nara period (710 - 794). After diplomatic relations with the Tang ceased in the early Heian period (794 - 1185), the cultural mood in Japan shifted to one in which Japanese customs were respected more and a Japanese aesthetic sensibility focused on grace and elegance was born. The culture of adding layers, which is said to have been perfected in the Heian period, still lives on in the everyday lives of the Japanese and is known to them as the starting point of Japanese culture.
The Japanese value and make use of the idea of adding layers in the layered colors of kimono, the method for laying out furnishings called “shitsurae” *1, and also when crafting dishes and chawan (tea or rice bowl).
The Japanese expression “toriawase no bi ya myou” (the beauty or exquisiteness of an arrangement) is grounded in a refined aesthetic sensibility through which the subtle differences in the meanings and imagery of nature, which have been carefully layered, are appreciated. This idea of adding layers can still be found in the everyday culture of Japan in a variety of forms such as the sliding doors and folding screens found in Japanese buildings, multi-tiered boxes and nested boxes used for tableware and furnishings, and shunoime (color matching list for layered clothing). An example of adding layers in everyday Japanese culture can be found in kaiseki ryori cuisine which is the basis of Kyoto cuisine.
In kaiseki ryori, the harmony created by the subtle layering of each ingredient can be enjoyed, as can the exquisiteness of beautifully-crafted layered flavors in dishes from the
mukozuke (starter) through to the bubuzuke (closing dish before desert also know as the obu). Furthermore, by matching the tableware, fragrance, and room layout under a single theme, an atmosphere is created for the people attending (hosts and guests) which helps them to feel a sense of togetherness. This idea of adding layers clearly remains in the okazu dishes (known as “obanzai” in Kyoto) eaten daily by people in Kyoto.
Japanese people associate okazu dishes with the word “kazu” (number) and count up the number of okazu as they act as components in a Japanese meal.