In a simple term, "kaiseki" is the Japanese full course meal.
Originally it has two different meanings.
One meaning is a hospitable meal before enjoy drinking tea at a tea ceremony.
Another meaning is a course meal served at a party for drinking since Edo period (17-19th century).
We call both "kaiseki", but they are written in different kanji (Chinese characters).
Commonly when you stay in the ryokan or hotel, kaiseki dinner is served.
Western-style full dinner is commonly served with consistent set of
dishes. And each dish is sequentially served.
In kaiseki dinner, various dinnerware which have various colors, shapes and materials: pottery, china, lacquerware, bamboo ware and so on.
Generally some dishes are served from the beginning, so you can enjoy various foods since the dinner is started.
Along the way a few additional dishes are served.
"Sakizuke" is the small dishes of local delicacy, and the first dishes
of kaiseki. It is like an appetizer.
"Hassun" is the same dish, but a few kind of dishes are on a beautiful small wooden tray, and they are decorated artistically.
Hassun is commonly served in midstream for the meal of tea ceremony, but it is often served from the start at the dinner of ryokan or hotel.
Sashimi is the first nice dish.
You may be able to eat the local and fresh fish.
"Nimono" is the dish that various ingredients are boiled in the soup
of dashi, shoyu and mirin.
Every cook serve it with using his ingenuity.
"Yakimono" is the dish of grilled fish.
Usually white fish are used.
"Agemono" is the dish of fried foods.
Usually tempura are served.
"Mushimono" is the steamed dish.
"Chawan-mushi" is popular.
These are served at the last of dinner.
These are the essence of Japanese meal, so the dishes which you have eaten until this time are for drinking party.
To the contrary, at the tea ceremony these are served at the first of party.
Sometimes suimono (clear soup) is served instead of miso soup.
Dessert is served at the end of dinner.
Usually seasonal fruits are served.