On 30th June, at the 35th Fukuoka Prefecture Ariake Sea Nori Farming Workshop, I gave a lecture on the theme "The Future of Washoku". It is a wonderful workshop that Otsubo Tekkou has backed up for 35 years.
Since Washoku was registered as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage in 2013, one could observe an unprecedented boom all over the world. However, if you change the viewpoint a little bit, you can see different scenes as well.
According to a survey by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the number of Japanese restaurants overseas in 2017 has expanded to about 120,000. If this momentum continues, it will be far to reach 200,000 stores soon or later. However, looking at the dishes and foodstuffs that are provided at these Japanese restaurants, the contents are vastly different.
In terms of world agricultural export value ranking in 2016, Japan is 45th and still in a low position. Compared with developed countries in Europe and the United States and other Asian countries, we are still sluggish. It seems that it includes various factors such as a diversification of food among Japanese family, a lowered food literacy among Japanese citizens, weakened primary industry in Japan.
Meanwhile, the number of foreign visitors in Japan, which has been growing more rapidly since 2014, is likely to reach the national target of 40 million in 2020. We would strongly hope that people who visit from many countries at this opportunity to experience authentic Japanese foods that can only be tasted in Japan and bring their experiences and memories back to their respective countries.
We would like to continuously propose a marketing approach like a morning market in a town, where producers and consumers talk to each other to understand each others, to the Nori industry. And also, considering the use of the Geographical Indication (GI) system, we would like to seek a opportunity whether "Ariake Nori" as a global brand could be constructed together with the industry.