This chapter introduces the notion of Japanese cuisine, highlighting its defining characteristics. Although many Asian countries share the same staples, such as rice or tea, Japanese culture integrates them into its society, contributing to its own national identity. The narrative explores the historical context as well as the topography of Japan as they relate to Japanese cuisine, or washoku. The history of Japanese foods and the land from which they develop reveal particular traits and explain the presence of singular Japanese characteristics. A country’s cuisine is often thought of as an expression of national identity. Thus, in addition to the presence of particular foods, we must consider how a culture conceptualizes food and how its members find meaning in food as part of their daily lives. Like its art, history, religion, and literature, a unique cuisine completes the picture of what it means to be Japanese. How a culture puts all these parts together is what makes it unique.