A central component around which meals are composed, rice must never be left out of any Japanese menu. It is one of the oldest staples of the world, dating back to ancient Chinese culture and brought to Japan by Buddhist monks. Rice was a form of wealth and used as currency as well as in many sacred rituals. Still today, people use rice as an offering to express gratitude to the gods, and Buddhist altars in the home are adorned with a small bowl of rice as an offering for the family’s ancestors. Like rice, tea is a historical and contemporary staple (and not just in Asia). The rituals, customs and traditions of Japanese tea service are what make it unique to the country. The identity of Japanese cuisine is also perpetuated in different media, whether it be cookbooks, literature, the Internet, or even graphic novels such as manga, where food is often a favorite topic. Annual holidays and festivals also contribute to the national culinary identity, since they often highlight regional specialties and attract tourists from around the world.