- Main lore areas
Kamakura, all over Japan
- Main ingredients used
konnyaku, burdock root, lotus root, carrot, daikon radish, taro, tofu, dried shiitake mushroom, komatsuna
- History/origin/related events
This dish is made by frying daikon radish, carrots, and other vegetables in oil and then simmering them. There are various theories as to its origin. One theory is that the Japanese word "makijen," a type of Chinese vegetarian cuisine known as fucha, became Japanese, while another says that "Kencho soup" made at Kenchoji Temple in Kamakura came to be called "Kenchin Jiru" at some point.
Kenchin Jiru is now served in many parts of Japan, but it has been served at Kenchoji Temple for more than 700 years, and according to one theory, it spread throughout the country as monks trained at Kenchoji Temple were dispatched to various regions. Kenchoji's Kenchin Jiru is a vegetarian dish, which means that no animal products are used, and the broth is made from kelp and shiitake mushrooms. Despite its image as a vegetarian dish, Kenchin Jiru is made from vegetable scraps left over from other vegetarian dishes, which is why so many vegetables are used in Kenchin Jiru.
Kenchin-jiru is made with tofu, which is said to have originated when the first abbot of Kenchoji Temple picked up tofu that had been dropped by ascetic monks, washed it, and put it in the soup.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
Tofu is eaten throughout the year, but it is especially popular during the cold season because of its use of root vegetables and the fact that it is a warm soup. In some areas of the Kanto region, it is sometimes eaten in conjunction with seasonal events such as Setsubun and Ebisu-ko.
- How to eat
Cut konnyaku and vegetables into bite-size pieces. Saute the chopped ingredients in sesame oil, add broth, and simmer over low heat. When the vegetables become soft, add salt and soy sauce, simmer further, and add tofu, breaking it up with your hands. Various arrangements of ingredients are made depending on the households and regions.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
In addition to being commonly made at home, it is also served at restaurants in various regions.
At the Kencho Festival held at Kenchoji Temple in 2018 and 2019, Kenchin Jiru made in a large pot was served to visitors. At the Kenchoji Setsubun Festival held every February, Kenchin Jiru is also served at the meal for those who participate in the bean-throwing ceremony as lucky men and women.
In addition, Kenchin Jiru is served three times a year as a local dish at elementary school lunch programs in Kamakura City.