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Cooking Up Enjoyment

A Love of Food Brings People Together

Delicious food has always been a source of joy. When people gather around an exquisitely prepared meal, it leads to new encounters and shared pleasure. This series looks at some of the culinary ways Japanese people are connecting with the outside world.

A Japanese Specialty Made in Spain

Katsuobushi is an essential element of Japanese cuisine, with shavings from this cured, dried bonito forming the basis for many of its basic flavors. EU food regulations ban its import from Japan, but a production plant in Spain now exports it to 20 countries in Europe, thanks to the determined efforts of a single Japanese.

”Buri”: A Wintertime Culinary Delight

Buri (yellowtail) is a fish found only in the seas surrounding Japan. While wild buri is a wintertime delicacy, cultivated varieties can now be consumed in the summer and fall as well thanks to advances in aquaculture. Buri also lies at the heart of a longstanding culinary tradition and ranks alongside maguro (tuna) and salmon as a popular food fish in Japan.

Zen, Tea, and Digital Flowers: A Transient Art Experience

An art installation at a Paris trade fair combined the latest digital technology with naturally produced tea. The two Japanese groups involved in the collaboration offered visitors a brief but unforgettable Zen-inspired experience.

Sake London-Style: Britain’s First Sake BreweryTony McNicol

Lucy Holmes and Tom Wilson are the founders of Kanpai London Craft Sake, Britain’s first sake brewery. Despite only launching their pocket-sized sake start-up in February 2017, they are already garnering attention for their innovative approach to making and marketing Japan’s national drink.

A Tasty Tipple: From Plum Wine to “Umeshu”

Umeshu, often referred to as plum or apricot wine in English, has benefited from the growing popularity of sake overseas and is now enjoying increased interest among consumers abroad. Offering a subtle sweetness and easy drinkability along with an array of health benefits, umeshu has won fans, particularly among women and young people. We visited a producer in Wakayama Prefecture that is on the front line of efforts to increase the international market for umeshu to see how the drink is made and hear about its prospects for the future.

A Savory Journey: Transforming Plums into “Umeboshi” (Photos)

Wakayama grows more ume plums than any other prefecture in Japan. We traveled there to visit umeboshi maker Shōkibai and some ume growers in the town of Minabe for a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how the fruit is made into pickled plums.

“Umeboshi”: The Health Secrets of Japan’s Sourest Fruity Treat

Highly salted pickled plums, or umeboshi, have been a beloved part of the Japanese diet for centuries, prized for their preservative qualities and health benefits as well as their distinctive mouth-puckering sourness and salty tang. The assertive mixture of salt and sour make them a hard taste for some to acquire, though. Younger Japanese today are also eating far fewer umeboshi than previous generations did. However, proponents are fighting back, arguing that the combination of health benefits and unique flavor make the humble umeboshi the ideal superfood for the twenty-first century.

“Nattō” Manufacturers Target Foreign Palates with Reduced Smell and Stickiness

The fermented soybean food nattō is divisive even in its homeland of Japan, due to its powerful smell and viscous texture. These qualities have also proved a barrier to export, despite recognition of the food’s health benefits. Now manufacturers in Ibaraki Prefecture are pushing a new form of nattō to foreign consumers, developed to reduce the effect of its more off-putting features.

Exploring Japan Bite by Bite: Food Writer Michael BoothTim Hornyak

The British writer Michael Booth is known for his love of Japan and Japanese cuisine, which he chronicles in books beginning with his 2010 Sushi and Beyond: What the Japanese Know About Cooking. We sat down with him in a Tokyo izakaya pub to see what he has to say about food, travel, and more.

Farm-to-Table in Fukushima: Local Chef Serves up Fresh-Picked Treasures

Chef Hagi Harutomo has received regional, national, and international recognition for his creative cooking spotlighting luscious fresh-picked heirloom vegetables and other agricultural products from Fukushima Prefecture. We visited him at his French restaurant in Iwaki, where he offers the ultimate farm-to-table dining experience to no more than one party per day.

Is There Life After Relocation? The Future of Tsukiji Fish Market

Tokyo’s huge Tsukiji fish market has spawned a vast “food city” that draws tourists from all over the world. But what will happen to the bustling Outer Market when Tsukiji’s wholesale operations—including the famed tuna auctions—move to Toyosu in the east of the city in November?

Revival of Japan’s Wild Game CuisineUehara Yoshiko

The mountainous regions of Japan have a long tradition of eating wild game. And in recent years this tradition has been enjoying a revival as more and more restaurants make use of venison and other wild meats. This article takes a look at the past and present of this little known aspect of Japanese cuisine.

Five Weeks in Tokyo: The World’s Best Restaurant’s Japanese Adventure

Danish restaurant Noma has been named the world’s best restaurant four times in the last five years for chef René Redzepi’s innovative approach to cuisine. In early 2015, it opened a pop-up restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Tokyo, presenting a new menu based exclusively on Japanese ingredients.

The Endangered Appeal of Japanese Eel

The number of Japanese eels has been dropping steadily, leading to rising prices. Roswell Hosoki, creator of a manga series on eel cuisine, shares his thoughts on this problem, while also explaining more about the culinary charms of eel.

The Rise of Ramen: How “Chinese Noodles” Became a Japanese Favorite

Originally from China, ramen has become one of Japan’s most popular dishes over the past few decades, sparking intense competition among the nation’s ramen shops. This article looks at the history behind Japan’s infatuation with ramen.

“Edomae” Sushi: A Fast Food with a Long TraditionNakahara Ippo

Sitting at the counter of an exclusive sushi restaurant can be an intimidating experience for the newcomer. But knowing a few basics can make all the difference. In this interview, master chef Aoki Toshikatsu shares some tips about the Edomae style of sushi served at his renowned Sushi Aoki restaurant in Ginza.

Sushi Chef Aoki Toshikatsu: At the Crossroads of Tradition and InnovationNakahara Ippo

Sushi aficionados expect more than just top-quality ingredients when they dine in Ginza. They expect a relentless attention to detail combined with the kind of effortless class that cannot be faked. Sushi Chef Aoki Toshikatsu, second-generation proprietor of Sushi Aoki, personifies these attributes. Nakahara Ippo profiles the master chef and his reverential yet inspired cuisine.

Women Uncorking Wine’s Potential in Japan

Although wine consumption and production is on the rise in Japan, it’s still nowhere near the level in Europe or the United States. But women may hold the key to fostering Japan’s wine culture. And a new, all-female wine-tasting competition is aiming to leverage the power of wine-loving women.

Tying the Cultural Knot in the Kitchen: Japanese-Peruvian Cuisine

In the 110-odd years since the first mass immigration from Japan to Peru, the fusion of Japanese and Andean cultures has led to the growth of so-called Nikkei culture in a variety of areas, one of them being cuisine. We paid a visit to Inti Raimi, a Peruvian restaurant run by an Okinawan family that bears witness to the legacy of Japanese immigration to South America.

World’s Top Chefs Work Wonders with Japanese Ingredients

The third World Summit of Gastronomy took place in Tokyo in September 2012. Some of the world’s very best chefs were on hand to share ideas on how to bring out the best of Japanese ingredients.

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