The ability to preserve food and its nutritional value has always been of prime importance. It is not surprising, then, that various imaginative and effective ways of food storage have evolved. Japan has developed one form-pickling-to its fullest. Using many methods, such as pickling with bran, salt, vinegar, miso, shoyu, and sake lees (the solid residue left after pressing sake), the Japanese pickle almost everything: roots, shoots, flowers, seeds, fruit, fish, and meat.
A visit to the pickle section of a modem Tokyo supermarket is a sensual extravaganza of diverse colors, textures, and exotic smells. Over the centuries pickles have become an indispensable part of traditional Japanese cuisine, and in many respects they symbolize the conservative yet creative nature of this ancient culture.