The Dalai Lama Just Publicly Dissed Japanese Cuisine

The Dalai Lama’s exposure to the deeply rich and celebrated cuisine from the island-nation of Japan has left him seriously wanting.
April 19, 2016, 2:00pm
Photo via Flickr user Kris Krug

As any religious leader worth his or her salt can surely tell you, there's no better way to work up an appetite than a bit of proselytizing followed by a hearty round of spiritual enlightenment. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has to keep his strength up—after all, not only does the dude have to worry about being the incarnation of Avalokiteśvara, he's also gotta deal with being despised by the world's soon-to-be number-one superpower.


Dealing with said hunger while traveling the world to promote Tibetan Buddhism has surely exposed the 14th Dalai Lama to a hell of a lot of the cuisines that make up our collective dinner table. Sadly, we can now report that the Dalai Lama's exposure to the deeply rich and celebrated cuisine from the island-nation of Japan has left him seriously wanting.

Last week, the spiritual leader visited the American Embassy School in New Delhi and spoke for an hour and 40 minutes with the children who attend the school. A New York Times reporter, Ellen Barry, whose daughter is a kindergartner there, watched the visit over livestream and took notes on the discussion, which spanned many topics, including the Dalai Lama's thoughts on hell and on the modernization of China.

READ MORE: Tibetan Refugees Are the Masterminds Behind Delhi's Favorite Dumplings

But who cares about all that? More importantly for our purposes, the Dalai Lama talked about food. And we can now definitively report that the Dalai Lama made several important proclamations.

First, he said that Japanese food "sometimes looks like decoration, not real food." Talk about profound, right?

Then he told the children that after finishing a Japanese meal, "people might understandably feel inclined to go out and find a restaurant."

A sign? A prophecy? Who knows.

READ MORE: Eat Like a Japanese Person If You Want to Live Longer

Maybe the Dalai Lama just prefers the food of nations other than Japan. Or perhaps he follows in the footsteps of Pope Francis: We know that the leader of the Catholic Church enjoys alfajores and white rice, goes nuts for pizza, is not above chewing a coca leaf, and digs an empanada.

When will we learn more about the Dalai Lama's food preferences? We do know that he is not a vegetarian—at least not full-time—despite Paul McCartney's protestations. Does he enjoy the yak and mutton that are part of Tibetan cuisine? Does he like pizza? How does he feel about French food?

We just don't know. Perhaps, one day, His Holiness will share more enlightening words on food with us. In the meantime, we will have to make do with what has been handed down from above—and our condolences go out to the people of Japan.