The Japan Tofu Association is Japan's representative body of all domestic tofu producers.
Did tofu originate in China?
Tofu, which is now eaten worldwide, is said to have originated in China.
This theory is based on a piece of 16th century Chinese literature which states that “Tofu was first created by Prince Liu An”. Consequently, there are many other theories.
So, when did the tofu producing techniques arrive in Japan?
Zen Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the Kamakura period (1135-1333). As a part of their ascetic training, monks of Zen Buddhism abstain from eating meat or fish and adhere to a strict vegetarian diet. This diet is known as “Shojin” cuisine. Consequently, tofu was highly prized as a means of replenishing proteins that would naturally become deficient through a non meat or fish diet.
By the Edo period (1603-1867) tofu, which had until then been the food of monks and the Bushi caste, began to spread into the general populace.
The book “Tofu Hyakuchin” (100 Tofu Delicacies), which set out one hundred recipes for tofu dishes, was published in 1782 (the second year of Tenmei), and subsequently became the focus of great public interest. A sequel was published the following year and an addendum edition after that. The number of recipes set out in all three books totals two hundred and forty, which shows just how widely tofu was used on the dining tables of the Edo period.