Food is something that is worshipped into every single culture across the world because it is something humans cannot live without. If you don’t eat, you die. It’s as simple as that. Food is also backbreaking work and takes a lot of time and energy to grow. In Japan it is more so, as the limited landspace has forced farmers to grow their rice and other crops in the mountains, and in hard-to-access places. Seafood was the go-to choice for meals as it was the most abundant. It is probably from these reasons that the attention to presentation stems.
Anyone can throw a fish and some cooked rice in a bowl, but it is the attention to the external appearance that is vital to the overall experience of the dish.
There is a saying in Japan that when giving a gift, the presentation of that gift is often more important than the actual gift itself. Anyone can spend a few bills buying a gift, but personally going to great lengths to carefully wrap and present that gift shows the receiver that the giver cares. In the context of food, the presentation is just as important as the quality and taste of the food, and good presentation can really make the food taste better!
Japanese people love food, and they love to make it beautiful. Japanese people really appreciate nature, and attempt to recreate a piece of nature in their cooking. It transcends the basics of cook-to-eat-to-get-energy and becomes more of a fine art. It creates the illusion of bounty, because people that have the time and energy to create something so elaborate must be well-fed.
People want to bring out the best of their dish and display the unique qualities of the ingredients they used by using beautiful plates or combining ingredients of contrasting colors. It really is its own world, and sometimes it is almost a shame to eat the dish because it is so beautiful. Even if there are certain foods that you can’t stomach, you can still appreciate the art of Japanese food presentation.