A summary of some of the places we have been and the produce highlights of these regions in my quest to discover Japanese comfort foods. Mouse over the icons on the map to find out more about my trip!
This is a third instalment of Souperchefannatravels series, this time Take Me To Japan. How many of us watch Japan Hour? I used to be watch it every Sunday and on the days I would not be home, I actually have it recorded. That is how much I love Japan! LOL! Japanese food is one of the most well loved foods in the world, best known for the freshness of their ingredients and their clean flavours. Over the years, I have done a couple of Japanese inspired soups, most notably Tokyo Chicken Stew, one of the most well loved soups at The Soup Spoon. My understanding of Japanese food and her culture has been reinforced by my travels in previous years over numerous occasions to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. I think this is the case for most tourists visiting Japan. From the slopes of Mount Fuji, to Tsukiji market, to the temple streets of Kyoto, tourists are cramming Japan’s prime sightseeing spots, puzzling their way through Tokyo subways, and splashing out cash on souvenirs, sushi and high-tech equipment like cameras.
Is Japan tourism and food only confined to these few big cities? I am souper guilty of this. I admit my ignorance! But this has all changed. Here at The Soup Spoon, we are souper stoked to collaborate with JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organisation) and Diners World Travel to explore regions not normally visited and create new souperinspirations based on our travels through the regions of Kyushu, Chubu and Tohoku. I have learnt a lot during this trip and special thanks to 3 ladies, Junko, Rie and Kayano who have worked tirelessly to make the trip as smooth as it can be and most importantly sharing personal stories of your homeland with me.
The schedule had been a hectic one as we travelled from Kagoshima through to Takayama to Miyagi prefecture to Iwate which is from the southern part of Japan to the norther part of Japan just before the island of Hokkaido in a whirlwind 6 days. We visited some of the of the most beautiful parts of Japan blessed with abundance, coexisting with dangerous elements such as active volcano Sakurajima and meeting artisanal craftsmen filled with passion. From Kagoshima Kurobuta pork to her sweet potatoes, the different types of miso, the cattle range in Tohoku, staying in a ryokan in the beautiful preserved old town of Takayama in the Chubu prefecture, replica food making in Gujo Hachiman, the condiments used for seasoning foods, traditional hotpots eaten here, visiting a wasabi farm and a visit to wholesale seafood markets other than the most famous one seemed like a lot places in a short 6 days! The hospitality we have received has been heartwarming and truly inspirational. The Tohoku region is still struggling to rebuild herself after the devastating tsunami and the nuclear meltdown. I admit that I was very apprehensive to be near Fukushima but I was glad we went and could hear the stories of people most hit and how they have come together to rebuild their lives. Obviously, things have started to normalise, but hearing their stories first hand, I could not help but feel the tenacity of the people and their sense of pride.
I would like to thank JNTO and many of the prefecture tourist officers for making this trip possible. I feel honored to be your guest and through this journal, I would love to tell the story of your culture through your foods and your people. I would love to share my experience of this food tour, some snippets of personal stories from my interactions with the gracious people who hosted us and also share the inspirations behind the new souperinspirations created for #TSSTAKEMETOJAPAN campaign. It made me realise that Japan is not only the first tier cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. To know her deeper, we must embrace her all.
Here, we would be able to bring souperinspirations inspired from our travels in Japan, to our kitchen to you. Till we meet again!
いただきますItadakimasu! (Let’s eat!)