Comments: In its own way, soup (shirumono) is as basic to the cuisine of Japan as rice. Come summer or especially winter, it's the rare meal that doesn't begin with a bowl of refreshing broth, a dish usually served so automatically, it's not even mentioned on most Japanese restaurant menus - it just arrives, as naturally as bread in a French or Italian restaurant. Soup is used in the preparation of an innumerable assortment of Japanese dishes; it's one of the building blocks of the cuisine. It's ubiquitous, and then some.
The most basic of Japanese soups is dashi, a broth made with dried bonita shavings (katsuobushi) and dried kelp (kombu). It's a clear, very mild soup, to Japanese cooking what a light chicken soup is to the cuisines of China and Europe. And it's one of the easiest dishes in the world to make; all you have to know how to do is boil water.