What is "Kurayami Gohan” (Diner in the dark)?

It is not uncommon for people to look at the food being served to them and say, "That looks delicious. But what kind of sensations do we experience and what do we discover when we eat blindfolded? This experimental food experience is called "Gohan in the Dark".

The basic flow of "Gohan in the Dark" is as follows. Participants eat in a room with the lights off and wearing an eye mask. Several dishes are served, one at a time. The participants imagine what they have eaten and talk about their impressions with the people around them.

They imagine the ingredients, the seasoning, and exchange their feelings and discoveries with the people around them. The flavors are all delicate. Even within a single dish, a variety of textures coexist, conveying the care with which the food is prepared.


Lecturer : ​Kakuho Aoe

Born in 1977 in Tokyo, he is the CEO of his own company and a cooking monk at the Ryokusen-ji temple of the Jodoshinshu school (a branch of Buddhism). An MBA graduate from the University of California, he is dedicated to food and nutrition education. He has been one of the co-founders of the virtual temple Higan-ji and was also vice-representative of the "Kogen" festival on traditional Japanese culture and religion.

He is the founder of Japan's first "darkroom" restaurant, Kurayami Gohan. He is the author of books such as Otera Gohan (The Cooking of Buddhist Temples, translated into Italian and French), Hito to Soshiki ga Kawaru Kurayami Gohan (Blind Food: Changing People and Society) and Sachi no Otera Gohan (The Buddhist Cooking of Sachi), among others.

Kakuho Aoe's YouTube channel "料理僧の台所 Buddhist Temple Cuisine".

Realize your assumptions

In some dishes, the correct answer is not obvious when eaten in bright light, but when eaten in the dark, it becomes clear. For example, an eggplant that is not purple or a tomato that is not red.

The human senses are very good. But if we have a preconceived notion that this is the right color, we may say something that is not correct.

In Buddhism, it is important to see things as they are, not as you think they are. This is one of the lessons I learned through the dark meal.


Business perspectives

With todayʼs abundance of information, it is essential in business or social movement to be able to see through what is important and make the decision and take action, without getting caught up by miscellaneous unimportant things.

At Kurayami gohan, we become aware of many things that we are not conscious of our daily lives. It is also a program where you have to communicate with other members of the group to move forward, and through the process, you naturally become aware of your own preconceptions and openness towards others.

Many corporates take up this program as new product development, team building exercises and corporate training, as when we serve the food, we start to understand the various issues that corporates have through the dishes.


Freeing yourself from stereotypes

Free yourself from the stereotypes that keep you stuck in the daily routine of your work. It gives you an opportunity to rethink what you really need to do and what you should be doing.


Improvement of behavior

Think about what work means to you. By taking a comprehensive look at your company and work, you will improve your awareness of your daily work and behavior.


Improving teamwork

As you reflect on yourself and share your thoughts and feelings with others, you will improve communication with others and foster cooperation. This will improve your work productivity.