The Washoku Way- Japan’s One Soup Three Sides Approach to Food

Food and Drink Avatar photo Ayla Yuile

G'Day Japan! / Food and Drink / The Washoku Way- Japan’s One Soup Three Sides Approach to Food

Japan’s very traditional One Soup Three Sides approach to food has a long history, appearing in picture scrolls dating 900 years back to the Heian Period.

This concept spread largely a result of the distinct four seasons seen in Japan. As the country is blessed with an abundance of oceans, mountains and fields, its natural geographical landscape has meant a diverse range of fresh produce grown all over the country are readily available.

Therefore seasonal produce is consumed at the right time; meaning the colour, taste, aromas and nutritional value of each produce is in its prime.

A meal of One Soup Three Sides consists of rice, a soup, and three other side dishes (one main and two sides). The carbs in the rice is a source of energy, fluids are provided by the soup, and nutrients are gained from the three side dishes which creates a well-balanced meal.


One point of importance you must pay close attention to are the three side dishes. Ideally, the ingredients used and the method of cooking should not double up in any of the three dishes being prepared. The one main dish should primarily consist of a protein such as fish, meat, eggs or tofu. The remaining two side dishes should provide vitamins, minerals and fibre through using ingredients such as vegetables, grains and beans.

The rule of thumb when it comes to eating this type of meal is to alternate between dishes (i.e if you take a bite of rice, have a sip of soup or a bite of the side dish next, then consume something different after). Mixing up what you’re consuming ‘bite by bite’ allows for better digestion and absorption of nutrients. Excess fats, sugars and salts are also excreted more effectively, and thus the One Soup Three Sides approach to eating is a well-balanced and highly beneficial one to follow.

Is it healthy? 

Keeping count of every single calorie consumed and keeping up a balanced diet are two big hurdles when it comes to losing weight. By switching to a One Soup Three Sides diet, it is easy to make sure you are getting a good balance of nutrients without having to be an expert. Plus the Japanese way is to have your food served in set portions, meaning you can’t overeat! In an attempt to live a healthy lifestyle, why not try the Japanese One Soup Three Sides approach?

In modern day Japan, the impact of globalisation on its diet has unfortunately seen an increase in fatty foods, ultimately resulting in an increase in lifestyle diseases. However, with the continuing awareness and conscious effort to follow the One Soup Three Sides way of eating, the nation has a lower fat consumption rate when compared to other developed nations.

What does it mean for longevity? 

To maintain health and beauty, it is necessary to eliminate toxins through detoxification. While initially there are no noticeable symptoms caused by the buildup of toxins in the human body, they eventually cause some sort of disorder whether it be headaches, back pains, a slower metabolism, hot flushes and the like. Detoxifying your body is an effective way to fight against such nasty toxins.


In Australia, smoothies, cleansing juices, and special products are commonly available for detox diets, however it can be difficult follow such a strict routine for days on end. While there are many detox diets which vary in length and style, they are often only effective in the short term. In Japan, there is a saying that goes Korobanu Saki no Tsue meaning prevention is better than a cure. Rather than relying on a short term detox diet to prevent a sudden bodily disorder, it is better to change your lifestyle and follow a well-balanced diet always.

One Soup Three Sides is the ultimate detox diet, and whether it be for beauty or for health it is certainly a healthy lifestyle change for all. Why not try it for yourself, and experience the benefits this traditional Japanese diet can bring to your life!