[Author: Haruna Arafuka, Advanced English Class, Kinjo University, Nagoya, Japan]
Japan’s Agriculture Ministry has set up a panel to discuss a certification system for Japanese restaurants abroad. The ministry said its aim was to spread correct Japanese food culture and improve the reliability of our country’s food in foreign countries. He is hoping to export fish-eating culture and techniques to other parts of the world.
The independent, November 2006
This is an article from 2006. It sounds out-of-date, but I was interested in to due to the present situation of Japanese restaurants in London through my 1-year stay.
If you visit foreign countries, you will find many Japanese restaurants there easily. You will realize that they have many varieties of sushi, which are quite different from the original one. For example, they have sushi with avocado, tuna and mayonnaise, called California roll, or with tuna and chili sauce, called Spicy roll. Surprisingly they sometimes put up a signboard, which reads “Sushi and Korean food”. Sushi is completely different from Korean food but they sometimes offer them together. It might be difficult to find a chef abroad who really understands the culture of sushi.
To tell you the truth first, this idea about the certification system was turned down, because it was not practicable. Do you think we should have adopted the certification system? I don’t think so. In my opinion, this system sounds superficial. We Japanese also mix Western food with Japanese food, such as curry rice, teriyaki hamburger and spaghetti with spicy cod roe, called Mentaiko. I understand the idea, but in such a globalized society we can not prevent people from adapting foods to their taste.
However, it doesn’t mean that the real Japanese food has been misunderstood abroad. These restaurants do spark interests in Japan and then, it promotes people to visit Japan. This way, people will understand the real Japanese food in Japan and hopefully they will spread it.
Hundreds of new sushi, noodle and tempura restaurants have sprouted in the UK in the past decade and the quality is improving. When I was in London, I found many great Japanese restaurants full of local people. One of Udon restaurants was even better than the ones in Japan.
In conclusion, it is not necessary to certificate the Japanese food and Japanese restaurants abroad have a big role to deepen the interest in Japan.