Many cuisines are defined as much by their ingredients as they are by their techniques. Japan, being a small island with distinct seasons, a culinary tradition with an emphasis on seasonailty, and many years of seclusion from the outside world is a prime example of this. Whether it's meat, shellfish, herbs and spices, or grain-based products, there are certain ingredients that are inherently linked to the cuisine and culture in my mind.
Peep through the slideshow to take a look at nine vegetables without which Japanese food simply wouldn't be the same.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.