• Yoshimi-Hyakuana

    [From April Issue 2015]

    This unique and ancient burial mound consists of numerous caves dug into the rocky hillside. It’s thought that many caves are horizontal burial pits dating from the late Kofun era (6-7th centuries) and at the time of writing 219 have been counted as such. It’s possible to enter some of the caves, while others with their naturally-occurring luminous moss – designated as a protected species – can be viewed and photographed from behind a fence. In the springtime cherry blossoms can be enjoyed on the Hyakuana burial grounds and its environs. There is also a cave built to house a munitions factory during World War II that is often used as a location for television dramas.
    Directions: Take the Tobu line to Higashi-Matsuyama Station. Then take the Kawagoe Kanko Bus heading towards Konosu License Center and get off at the “Hyakuana Iriguchi (entrance)” stop. From there it is only a five minute walk. Or you can take the JR Takasaki Line to Konosu Station, then take the Kawagoe Kanko bus bound for Higashi-Matsuyama Station and get off at the “Hyakuana Iriguchi” stop. From there it is only a five minute walk.
    Hours of Operation: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Entrance fees: 300 yen for adults and children of junior high school age or over, 200 yen for elementary students and free to children not yet in elementary school.
    Open 365 days a year
    Text: KAWARATANI Tokiko[2015年4月号掲載記事]

    交通:東武東松山駅下車。川越観光バス鴻巣免許センター行き「百穴入口」下車、徒歩5分、または、JR高崎線鴻巣駅下車 川越観光バス東松山駅行き「百穴入口」下車、徒歩約5分
    入園料:中学生以上300円 小学生200円 小学生未満無料

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  • Origin Bento

    [From April Issue 2015]

    Origin Bento, a shop that sells side dishes and obento (pack lunches) to go, has a total of 566 stores in the Kanto and Kansai areas. There are more than 30 varieties of obento box available. The company prides itself on preparing dishes in store with healthy seasonal ingredients rich in nutrients that contain no artificial colorings or preservatives. Side dishes are arranged on a large platter in a glass display case at the counter and can be bought for 183 yen per 100 grams. The menu is altered according to the season.

    [No. 1] Nori (Seaweed) Bento 299 yen

    Okaka (bonito flakes), nori, and deep fried fish are served on a bed of rice. This standard bento dish is popular with people of all ages.

    [No. 2] Nori Deep Fried Chicken Bento 399 yen

    Deep fried chicken with a side serving of cabbage served on a bed of rice topped with okaka and nori.

    [No. 3] Half a Serving of the Recommended Daily Vegetable Intake
    Six Stir-fried Vegetables Bento 504 yen

    Cabbage, bell peppers, onions, carrots, komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach), and moyashi (bean sprouts) stir-fried in soy sauce. A flavor you’ll never tire of. Only available in the Kanto area.
    Origin Bento[2015年4月号掲載記事]


    【No.1】のり弁当 299円


    【No.2】のりチキン竜田弁当 399円


    【No.3】一日に必要な野菜の半分使用 6品目の野菜炒め弁当 504円



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  • Art Brings Out People’s Real Feelings

    [From April Issue 2015]

    CHO Hikaru / ZHAO Ye
    “I think the phrase ‘it’s beautiful’ is a phrase people formulate in their minds when they’ve seen something that has made an impression on them. So, when I receive such a compliment, I’m not happy because I don’t know if my artwork has really touched that person’s heart,” artist CHO Hikaru says. “If someone who sees my painting frowns involuntarily and says, ‘Yuck,’ it makes me happy because I feel like I’ve heard their true opinion.”
    Cho mainly paints. Although she is still in her junior year in the Visual Communication Design department of Musashino Art University, she’s already known for working in a variety of fields, including painting, producing videos, and designing characters. Having entered into a contract with an apparel manufacturer, she also designs clothes and tights.
    Cho became famous for her body painting, by painting realistic-looking art onto people’s skin. “When I was preparing for my entrance exams for art school, I had to paint still lifes every day. Then, I got fed up and wanted to make pictures of humans, so I tried painting an eye. I did it on the back of my hand because the art supplies I was using back then were expensive and only available at an inconveniently located store, which made it troublesome to go buy them,” she says with a laugh.
    She loved the eye she had painted on her hand so much that she posted a picture of it on Twitter. Then, it was retweeted more than a thousand times. Cho says: “In those days, ‘Parasyte,’ a manga series about creatures living inside human bodies, was becoming popular; people thought my eye painting resembled one of these parasites and found it funny. I suppose they were also drawn to the fact that this weird painting had been done by a young woman.”
    Knowing that trends quickly come and go in the world of the Internet, Cho thought her post would soon be forgotten. But even after six months, it was still getting retweeted. But the positive feedback didn’t stop there and before long she was being asked to perform on TV programs. When she exhibited her work requests came in from people who wanted to collaborate with her.
    “I became famous before I had completed my artistic training, so I was criticized by some people who said that any artist could easily paint that kind of picture,” Cho says. “When I come across remarks badmouthing me or my works on the web, I take screenshots of them to reread later. I find them both instructive and funny. I’m the kind of person who can put things in perspective,” she says with a wry smile.
    “I think the reason I turned out this way is partly because I was born in Japan to Chinese parents,” says Cho. “I’m treated as a Chinese person in Japan, and have to have my fingerprints and picture recorded when I enter the country, as if I were a potential criminal. In China, I’m viewed as more of a Japanese person because of my poor Chinese.”
    “But because of this upbringing, I learned to look objectively at the way countries tend to strengthen unity by looking down on other countries,” says Cho. “It’s not what it seems” is a picture of a banana painted to look like a cucumber and is Cho’s favorite of her works to date. “I wanted to ask, ‘What can you tell about who someone is on the inside, just by looking at their skin color, nationality and other external aspects?’”
    CHO Hikaru
    Text: SAZAKI Ryo[2015年4月号掲載記事]

    趙 燁 さん
    「でもこの生まれ育ちのおかげで、他国をおとしめて自分たちの団結を強めようとする動きを、距離を置いて見ることができるようになりました」と趙さん。趙さんはお気に入りとして、バナナに色を塗ってキュウリに見せかけた作品「It’s not what it seems」を挙げます。「人間の肌の色や国籍といった外側だけを見て、その人の内面の何がわかるの?と言いたかったのです」。
    趙 燁 さん

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  • Manufacturer of Ready-made Foods Invented “Ochazuke Nori”

    [From April Issue 2015]

    Tea in its many forms is deeply connected to Japanese history and culture. One of the most popular teas consumed today is sencha; a green tea invented by NAGATANI Soshichiro – founder of what was to become Nagatanien Co., Ltd. – in the Edo era (17-19th centuries). That is to say that originally the Nagatani family ran a tea production business. Sencha was eventually exported to Western countries and, along with raw silk thread, became one of Japan’s major exports.
    In 1952, NAGATANI Yoshio, the tenth Nagatani to run the family business, developed “Ochazuke Nori” with his father Takezo so that people could easily consume delicious ochazuke (a dish of rice and tea) at home. At that time ochazuke nori was powdered shredded seaweed, seasoning, and arare (rice crackers) mixed together by hand. As neither aluminum foil nor polyethylene was available in those days, to prevent humidity from spoiling the seaweed, 100 bags of double the usual thickness were stored in a bottle that had a layer of lime placed inside its base.
    Sales of Ochazuke Nori steadily increased and it eventually became a hit product nationwide. In 1953, a year after the product was launched, Yoshio established Nagatanien Honpo Co., Ltd. He subsequently created a series of long selling products such as “Matsutake no Aji Osuimono,” “Sake Chazuke,” “Asage” and “Sushi Taro,” all of which can still be found in stores today.
    In 1979, a man, who was in charge of the production department, was chosen to be the company’s first “idle employee.” Yoshio told him, “You don’t have to come to work. You can spend as much as you want. You don’t need to report back. Eat whatever you want and come up with something in two years.” Having created a series of hit products, Yoshio knew that “good ideas don’t only surface when you’re sitting at a desk.”
    The man from the production department followed his orders and, searching for ideas for new products, traveled extensively sampling food both in and outside of Japan. Two years later, he ended up launching “Mabo Harusame,” a combination of “Chinese soup” and “harusame” (thin noodles). Mabo Harusame, the world’s first instant Chinese food, was a big hit. Along with this product, the dish itself became popular nationwide.
    In 2003, the A-Label range for people with food allergies was created. During the developmental stage, some employees voiced concerns that it would be hard to maintain quality without eggs, milk and flour, but these difficulties were overcome with the launch of a curry in a sealed plastic pouch and furikake (dried seasoning for rice). In response to an unexpected influx of positive comments from mothers – such as “I’ve been waiting for a product like this” and “Please create more products like this in the future” – more resources are being allocated to product development and the marketing of this range.
    At the time of writing, the “What are you going to put on Japan?” project, to get consumers to suggest new ways of eating Ochazuke Nori, is underway. Ochazuke, made of typical ingredients used in Japanese cuisine such as rice, tea and seaweed, is likened to Japan itself. “Ochazuke cars” are now traveling around Japan showcasing recipes that incorporate local delicacies.
    Nagatanien Co., Ltd.
    Text: ITO Koichi[2015年4月号掲載記事]


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  • Utilizing Japanese Language Proficiency to Secure a Dream Job

    [From April Issue 2015]

    “The other day when I went to a business networking event for various companies and made a presentation in Japanese, so many people rushed up to me to exchange business cards that I ran out,” says Nate SHURILLA in fluent Japanese. “Also, when I was job hunting, a broader range of options opened up to me because I could speak Japanese; this resulted in a job offer from one of Japan’s main mega banks. The ability to speak the native language gives you a huge advantage when it comes to securing a job in a foreign country.”
    Shurilla hails from the state of Wisconsin in America. “Before he got married, my father lived in Japan doing volunteer work for his church, and used to discuss his memories of this experience with me and taught me simple Japanese. Through this, I became interested in Japan, too, and elected to learn the Japanese language in my middle and high school years.” When it came time for him to enter secondary education, Shurilla applied to do volunteer work for his church and went to Japan, just like his father.
    At first, Shurilla was shocked because it was so difficult for him to understand spoken Japanese. “My first placement was in Yamagata Prefecture where I couldn’t understand a word the old people spoke. Later I understood that they had a unique dialect. However, the experience had a huge impact on me at the time and it made me think I had to study more Japanese. At the same time, though, I understood that the conversation would continue even when I did not understand the words, if I just smiled and said, ‘I see, I see,’” he jokes.
    Shurilla decided to study ten new words, two new grammar rules, and five new kanji every day. “I used store-bought flashcards and also read books. The first book I read had about 200 pages. It began to make sense at around page 150,” he says.
    When his two years of volunteer work came to a close Shurilla returned home and went to college. There he chose to take classes in Japanese where he studied grammar and the cultural background of Japanese expressions. “Thanks to the grammar lessons, I could systemize knowledge I acquired during my stay in Japan. Also, understanding Japanese culture is very important. For instance, I think the greeting ‘otsukaresama desu’ (thank you for your work) is uniquely Japanese. Bearing in mind that it comes from appreciating other people’s hard work and being considerate of their fatigue, you would know in which situations to use the expression.”
    When he was a college senior, Shurilla sat for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) N1 and passed. He then applied for the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme and returned to Japan. “I returned to Japan because the earnestness and diligence of the Japanese people had made a big impact on me during my previous stay and I had begun to love Japan,” he says. “While working in Japan, there was a period when I was bothered by the interference of my direct supervisor, but I overcame that by talking to another boss at a higher level.”
    Now, Shurilla is working for a marketing company in Tokyo. “If you speak your native language and Japanese and have some kind of skill, like programming, you can find many job opportunities in Tokyo,” he says. “I am now involved in ‘Around Akiba,’ a project to promote the appeal of Akihabara to the world. I feel it’s an advantage to be able to speak Japanese, particularly when doing interviews.”

    Text: SAZAKI Ryo[2015年4月号掲載記事]

    今、シュリラさんは東京のマーケティング会社で働いています。「自国語と日本語、そして何かのスキル、例えばプログラミングができるなどの技能があれば、今の東京には仕事を得る機会がたくさんありますよ」と言います。「私は今、秋葉原の魅力を海外へ発信するプロジェクト『Around Akiba』に携わっています。特に取材のとき、日本語ができてよかったと感じますね」。


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  • The Unfortunate Fate of a Young Man Who Tried to Play God

    [From April Issue 2015]

    Death Note
    This story portrays the fate of a young man who comes into possession of “Death Note,” a notebook that enables him to control death itself. The tale was serialized in “Weekly Shonen Jump” from December 2003 to May 2006. In Japan alone 30 million copies of the entire series have been printed, and it has also been translated into a number of different languages around the world. It’s hugely popular both at home and abroad.
    One day YAGAMI Light picks up a black notebook with the words “DEATH NOTE” written on it. Instructions written on the back of the front cover state that simply by writing a person’s name in the book it’s possible to kill them. Some days after, the notebook’s owner, the death god Ryuk, appears before him. But Light is not astonished because having already used the notebook to indiscriminately kill criminals, he has come to believe that the notebook possesses a mysterious power.
    There are various restrictions on using the Death Note. Most important being that the name and the face of the victim must match. Light kills a succession of brutal criminals, whose names and faces appear on the news. When this series of suspicious deaths occurs, it’s not long before a rumor begins to circulate that a righteous killer named “Kira” is going around executing bad guys. This has been Light’s intention all along.
    By playing the part of Kira and executing criminals, Light carries out his plan to control people through fear and thereby create a world free of crime. “I will become the God of my new world,” Light declares to Ryuk. At the same time, at the request of Interpol, the mysterious master detective “L” begins looking into the case. By having information on brutal criminals released at different times in different countries, L measures the timing of executions. From this he determines that Kira is in the Kanto region of Japan.
    Light schemes to completely wipe out all the FBI agents sent to investigate the case. Before long L himself comes to Japan. L joins a team heading up the investigation into Kira – a team that includes Light’s own father YAGAMI Soichiro. L eventually comes, on the basis of internal information leaks, into contact with Light and begins to suspect that Light is in fact Kira. Aware he is attracting suspicion, Light also approaches L and offers to help out with the investigation.
    As the battle of wits between the two unfolds the investigation is thrown into chaos when AMANE Misa, a second person suspected of being Kira, arrives on the scene. By manipulating Misa, who adores Kira, Light successfully eliminates L before he’s able to prove that Light is Kira. L’s death, however, is never made public, and Light takes over as a second L, making it seem as if the investigation is still progressing. Behind the scenes, a new world is on its way to being realized.
    A few years later, devotees, who worship Kira as a god, spread throughout the world, and the armies and police agencies of other countries can no longer oppose him. Just when Light is only one step away from dominating the world, two successors to L, Mello and Near, stand in his way. And the three are embroiled in one final showdown. The fate and ultimate demise of Light, who is obsessed with his mission to dispense justice, touches on the universal theme of the “perils of justice.”
    Text: HATTA Emiko




    ある日、夜神月は「DEATH NOTE」と書かれた黒いノートを拾います。表紙の裏には、名前を書き込むだけで人を殺すことができるという説明が書かれていました。数日後、ノートの持ち主である死神リュークが現れますが、月は驚きません。ノートが不思議な力を持つ本物だと確信していたからです。月はすでにノートを使って、何人もの犯罪者を殺していました。







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  • Popular TV Programs Allow Foreigners to See Their Countries Through Japanese Eyes and Vice Versa

    [From March Issue 2015]

    Broadcasting a variety of programs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in Japan there are numerous TV stations and this includes one public channel, five major private TV channels, local stations, BS, and CS. Among the programs broadcast, there are many that feature foreign countries and non-Japanese people. Those introducing the lives of Japanese living overseas and the lives of non-Japanese in Japan are popular.
    In “Far Away Neighbours” celebrities drop in on Japanese living in places rarely visited by ordinary Japanese citizens. This series, broadcast on the TV Asahi channel and its network, is mainly hosted by the Chihara Brothers comic double act. The appeal of this program as a documentary is its portrayal of visiting celebrities grappling with riding small busses and trying to make the right connections in order to reach their destination, as well as the way it introduces the real lives of local people.
    Since many of the people visited are the only Japanese in the area, they cannot rely on the embassy or local Japanese communities and have had to solve problems on their own. In most cases, being far from Japan means that life can be rather inconvenient. The ups and downs of their lives up until the present day and their courage in overcoming these difficulties are highlighted in the show.
    Broadcast by the TBS network, “The World’s Japa-zuma” is a program that features the lives of Japanese women who have married non-Japanese men and are living overseas. When it’s revealed how these woman came to move overseas for marriage, the footage is discussed in the studio by celebrities and non-Japanese women living in Japan. The hosts are the comic duo Bakusho Mondai.
    One of the highlights of the program is in its detailed portrayal of the individual lives of these women, the difficulties they face in foreign countries and the cultural differences between them and their husbands. For instance, a woman who moved to New Zealand won sympathy of viewers because of the way she took care of her children while running a ranch with her husband. Her practically self-sufficient lifestyle stirred up feelings of curiosity and admiration in viewers.
    “Why did you come to Japan?” is broadcast by the TV Tokyo network. To discover why people come to Japan, foreigners are interviewed at Narita International Airport. Sometimes, their special skills are introduced, as in the case of people who came to Japan to participate in a karate event. The individual responses of people coming from overseas and the variety of reasons for coming to Japan stir up the viewer’s interest.
    In some cases, the coverage of people interviewed at the airport continues. A couple of Danish men appeared numerous times in the program because of their unique style of traveling which involved choosing a destination by blindfolding themselves and pointing at random to an open guidebook. The show is surprising to viewers because foreigners want to visit unusual places or even places Japanese people don’t know about. The witty commentary by the show’s hosts, comic due Bananaman, is also popular.

    Text: SAZAKI Ryo[2015年3月号掲載記事]



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  • Promoting Delicious Edo Era Vegetables

    [From March Issue 2015]

    Run by local government, Boso-no-Mura is a theme park located in Chiba Prefecture. It’s a 20 minute drive away from Narita International Airport. There you can experience the traditional lifestyle and crafts of Boso – the peninsula that covers the greater part of Chiba Prefecture. The theme-park covers an area of 51 hectares and is 11 times as big as Tokyo Dome. At its center is Boso-no-Mura where a project to grow and promote Edo era (17-19th centuries) vegetables has got underway.
    Lots of vegetables used by people in Edo (the former name for Tokyo) were grown in the Hokuso Area (northern part of Chiba Prefecture which includes Narita City and Katori City). Vegetables eaten in Edo during the Edo period were called “Edo vegetables.” For the current project they are cultivating four kinds of vegetables: carrots, daikon (Japanese white radish), turnips, and Japanese mustard. Although they are not exactly the same varieties as those grown in that period, strains were selected that were as close as possible to those used.
    Compared to modern-day vegetables that tend to have a standard size, appearance and harvesting season, Edo vegetables were quite diverse. As productivity is paramount in modern-day agriculture, selective breeding has advanced to the extent that Edo vegetables are no longer cultivated. However, as Edo vegetables are rich in fibre, sweet and strong tasting, they are delicious in soups and pickles.
    In Boso-no-Mura, you can try your hand at harvesting Edo vegetables. Furthermore, at a nearby affiliated restaurant, the menu has been designed so visitors can enjoy eating these vegetables either boiled or pickled. GUO Chuanyu, a Chinese citizen who took part in the activity says, “Since I have hardly ever harvested daikon and carrots, it was a lot of fun. The Edo vegetables were delicious, too.”
    Project manager OGASAWARA Nagataka says, “With Edo vegetables, cooperation within the region is growing. Some farming families, people who have their own kitchen gardens, and schools are now growing Edo vegetables. From now on, I would like to cooperate with people living in other areas too; by promoting Edo vegetables to people living in cities and to tourists from overseas, hopefully they will participate in our agriculture experience program. As these cultural exchanges blossom, it would be nice if that regenerated our local economy.”
    The town of Sawara is a 30 minute drive away from Boso-no-Mura. The town’s shipping trade prospered during the Edo period and some of its streets from that time are still intact. Also of interest is the house of INO Tadataka, the first person to complete a map of Japan based on surveyed measurements. Nearby, too, is Katori Shrine, a location thought to be filled with spiritual energy. By not only experiencing Edo vegetables, but also by walking the streets of this old town, you’ll feel as if you’ve slipped back in time.
    Text: KONO Yu[2015年3月号掲載記事]


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  • Sleeper Trains Being Phased Out

    [From March Issue 2015]

    Due to the huge economic impact of high speed shinkansen trains, sleeper trains in Japan are about to disappear. One of the enjoyable things about sleeper trains is the time spent riding on them. Although they were once a means of transportation for students reluctant to spend too much on traveling expenses, sleeper trains today have become a luxurious space for people with both money and time to spend on traveling. Many people are sad to see the discontinuation of the sleeper trains which had a charm that set them apart from ordinary means of transportation.
    This March two sleeper trains linking Hokkaido and Honshu will be discontinued. The final run of the “Twilight Express” running from Osaka Station to Sapporo Station along the coast of the Sea of Japan will be on the 12th, while the final run of the “Hokutosei” running from Ueno Station to Sapporo Station along the Pacific coast will be on the 13th. From April to August, a special Hokutosei train service will operate once every two or three days.
    There were 39 so called “Blue Train” sleeper trains – painted with a blue exterior – in operation in Japan. The Hokutosei is the last one. The news of its discontinuation surprised even those who weren’t particularly interested in trains. A large number of people want to ride on it at least once before the service is shut down. The occupancy rate of the trains is higher compared to last year.
    Dinner is served in the dining car (reservations required), at 6,000 or 8,500 yen a head. The set menus are popular despite being expensive. Long queues form during bar hours when no reservation is required for entry. Since it was decided that the service would be discontinued, people want to buy the original products sold while the train passes through Hokkaido as a souvenir of their last ride. So, now they’ve become hard to get hold of.
    At terminuses, many people – including non-passengers –take pictures of the carriages and of the signature plate affixed to the train’s nose. To capture the best shots, some wait for the train at stations where the train does not stop or at curves in mountainous areas. At Hakodate Station, where the train stops for a longer period of time to switch engines, quite a few passengers descend onto the platform with cameras to photograph the scene.
    In the past, Blue Trains on other lines were discontinued mainly because of the decreasing number of passengers and the increasing age of the cars. This time, the discontinuation is due to ageing of the cars and the imminent introduction of the Hokkaido Shinkansen. SUZUKI Takafumi of the PR department of JR Hokkaido points out that “the cost to get new cars would be tremendous.” Train carriages that retain an old world atmosphere are attractive, but it’s becoming hard to repair parts and furnishings.
    The Hokkaido Shinkansen is scheduled to begin operating in March, 2016. This high speed train is going to operate under different conditions from other shinkansen routes in that it will share a rail track with conventional trains and operate in the coldest part of Japan. “Many different inspections and tests will be carried out in an extremely limited period of time overnight, so it might be necessary to modify the night train timetable,” says Suzuki.
    The advantage of the shinkansen is that it’s a speedy and convenient way to travel. It’s expected that the Hokkaido Shinkansen will have a huge impact. “You’ll be able to travel quickly from the Tokyo Metropolitan Area to Hokkaido without changing trains. This will have a positive influence on tourism not only in southern Hokkaido where the shinkansen will be running, but also across the whole of Hokkaido. Ties between Tohoku and Hokkaido will strengthen further,” says Suzuki.
    JR Hokkaido
    Text: ICHIMURA Masayo













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  • New Uses for Japanese Staple Ingredient Katsuobushi


    文:市村雅代[:en][From March Issue 2015]

    Ninben Co., Ltd.
    Used in dishes such as miso soup, “dashi” stock is a basic ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Dashi is not used for its flavor, but is added to enhance other flavors. There are many kinds of dashi stock including dried fermented fish and dried seaweed. The most commonly used ingredient is katsuobushi, which is made from boiled bonito which is dried and fermented. Ninben Co., Ltd. has been selling katsuobushi since 1699.
    In the past, home cooking in Japan used to begin with making dashi. To make a dashi stock, katsuobushi or some other ingredient was placed in hot water and removed once the umami (savory) flavor had been extracted. To save time, in recent years dashi powder and miso that contains dashi has been put on the market.
    Rather than simply selling katsuobushi on its own, Ninben is selling more products containing katsuobushi. “All our products contain katsuobashi as a basic ingredient, but liquid seasoning such as “Tsuyu-no-Moto” accounts for 60% of our sales these days,” says ENDO Haruhiko of the corporate planning department.
    In line with this trend, in 2010 Ninben opened the “Nihonbashi Dashi Bar” inside its Nihonbashi flagship store at COREDO Muromachi 1 (Tokyo). The aim was to allow customers to experience for themselves the umami flavor of dashi extracted from freshly shaved katsuobushi. “Before opening, we thought take-out soups and “katsubushi rice” – a lunch dish topped with fresh katsuobushi shavings – would be our main best-sellers,” Endo says.
    But unexpectedly, the most popular product turned out to be the simple “katsuobushi dashi.” The most sold in one day was 1,800 servings. By January this year the total servings reached 550,000. Given this success, a second store was opened last year at the International Terminal of Haneda Airport. Endo feels that Nihonbashi Dashibar is attracting more attention now Japanese cuisine is on UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list.
    Endo says “katsuobushi dashi has a relaxing effect on those who drink it.” Although it’s not common to drink dashi on its own, “it’s so gentle on the stomach that we recommend it as a substitute for drinks like coffee.” At the Nihonbashi Dashi Bar, like sugar and milk in a coffee stand, salt and soy sauce are available for seasoning.
    Until recently, many people thought katsuobushi was exclusively for Japanese food. Yet, Endo says “it can also be used in Western and Chinese dishes.” Katsuobushi is now making waves as an ingredient that is high in protein and gentle on the body. As our dietary habits evolve, it’s possible there will be more opportunities to use katsuobushi in the future.
    Ninben Co., Ltd.
    Text: ICHIMURA Masayo[:]

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