Ichiju-Sansai: A Balanced Japanese Meal

In Japan, it is said that to have a balanced meal you need an ichiju-sansai meal: ichi means ‘one’, ju means ‘soup’, san means ‘three’, and sai means ‘dishes’. An ichijusansai meal is, then, a combination of a bowl of soup and three other dishes. With rice and pickled vegetables always included, they aren’t mentioned when we speak of ichiju-sansai.

This traditional Japanese style consists of foods such as rice, vegetables, meat, and fish. It provides a nutritional and balanced meal, allowing you to enjoy a guilt-free trip to a Sapporo restaurant!

Importance of Japanese Cuisine

Japanese cuisine, or washoku, is a traditional practice revolving around the preparation and consumption of food with respect for nature and sustainability. UNESCO, or the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, recognised Japanese food as Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The respect for the food is very important; Japan has four, very distinct seasons with associated fresh vegetables and other ingredients. Respecting nature and preparing it in such a way that maximised both its flavour and the use of the ingredients themselves is vital.

With balance as a core principle, alongside having a varied and balanced diet you eat a bit of every dish. Ichiju-sansai allows for proper nutrition, as your body receives the daily dosages of needed nutrients and minerals from this approach at a varied meal.

An Ichiju-Sansai Meal

Miso soup is a staple in Japanese cuisine; it’s composed of stock, or daishi, with miso paste and other ingredients that can be regional and seasonal. According to ichiju-sansai, the added ingredients should reflect the current season. They should also give a myriad of contrasts in flavour, texture, and colour, such as potatoes, seaweed, fish, mushrooms, and others. Miso soup, however, doesn’t have many ingredients beyond miso and the stock.

Rice is another staple in Japanese cuisine, as it has been cultivated in the country for over 2000 years. As rice is a big part of a Japanese diet and provides balance to meals, it’s typical to eat a bowl of rice as a side dish.

The three side dishes can be cooked fish, cooked meat, or vegetables with dressing. Fish is eaten in higher quantities than meat, which is said to contribute to the healthiness of Japanese cuisine. Meat has increasingly been integrated in Japan, as its consumption was prohibited until the Meiji Restoration of the 1870s.

Ichiju – sansai is a simple expression of washoku, and you can experience it through our set menu. Whether you’re feeling like and ‘Emperor’ or like a ‘Samurai’, you can try Ichiju-sansai with our Miso soup, beef fillet, jumbo prawns, Namasu salad, and many more delicious dishes.

Healthy food and healthy living are directly connected, which is why it’s important to ensure that you have a varied and nutritious diet. Keeping in tune with healthy and homely food that Japanese cuisine is known for, here at Sapporo we’ve also adapted to this ever-growing health movement. We’ve made conscious decisions such as changing the butter we use to rapeseed oil, providing you with healthier dishes! It also compliments our balanced Japanese cuisine, adding that extra special touch to already delicious dishes.

If you prefer to just sit down and try a bit of everything, you will find a wide variety of delicious Japanese food such as soup noodles, vegetarian dishes, chicken and duck dishes, Teriyaki, and so much more!


With fresh vegetables, rice, and protein providing a balanced meal in a wide variety of colours and flavours, it’s no wonder that Japanese cuisine is a popular choice. You can also experience the wonderful tradition of Japanese cuisine by dining at Sapporo!