Tag Archives: Japan

Japan Wants To Rate Authenticity Of U.S. Sushi

Here’s an interesting idea that will (and should) never happen (UPDATE: A much better article can be found here – Thanks Stephen!) :

The number of sushi restaurants in the U.S. has doubled over the last 12 years, sparking a shortage of classically trained Japanese sushi chefs.

The Japanese government wants to send inspectors to certify autentic Japanese sushi in U.S. restaurants. They’re working out the details on the certification program.

As much as I respect the food traditions of any culture, I also understand that tastes and trends can and will change. Then add the fact that when you import a food into a different culture, you will almost always end up with a different take on whatever food, product or dish that has been imported.

Then, following the change in the dishes comes the inevitable cadre of purists who will tell you in no uncertain terms that what you are eating isn’t “authentic”.

Yes, I do count myself amongst the members of that cadre from time to time.

But exporting governmental accountability on how a tradition is applied in a different culture? Yeah, good luck with that. Meanwhile, I’ll be eating a Spicy Negihama Roll at Mashiko here in West Seattle. This roll containing hamachi, scallions, and cucumbers, then topped with garlic and shiracha sauce may not be Sushi in the traditional sense, but it certainly has it’s roots in sushi culture.

That being said, the first time I saw sushi being sold in a supermarket, I died a little inside.

UPDATE: Let me clarify my position. When I said that “Authentic Sushi” certification should never happen, I meant mandatory certification. I have no problem in any voluntary program, although I can’t see consumers being worked up enough to care whether their favorite sushi place is certified or not.

tags technorati : Sushi

Manufactured Luck: KitKat in Japan

For those people who follow the candy industry, the tale of the popularity of KitKats in Japan is a fairly well known phenomenon. The basic story goes like this:

  • KitKat sounds roughly like the Japanese phrase “kitto katsu”
  • “kitto Katsu” is apparently a phrase that students tell each other prior to exams.
  • Parents, who want to wish their children well during exam times, purchase KitKats for the kids as a form of “good luck” charm.
  • Nestle, noticing the trend of upward sales around the national exams, ensures new flavors are available around these times.
  • Profits galore for Nestle!!

It’s a nice little story that has been mentioned repeatedly over the internet . It is completely believable and quite possibly…not true.

AlphaMale has his own version of the story:

Year 1: Hotels in Tokyo began giving complementary KitKat bars to students who came to the city by the thousands to take the fiercely competitive university entrance exams. The KitKat was presented as a little “lucky charm”. Students were surprised and touched. They didn’t know the candy giveaway was sponsored by the manufacturer.

Year 2: The advertising agency behind this stealth campaign wangled some news stories (not ads) about the hotels’ candy giveaway. The reason for the stealth: Japanese young people are suspicious and scornful of advertising.

Year 3: Some ads began to appear. They didn’t look like ads. They were cute little stories about teachers, mothers, students and the lucky charm. The ads were fiction, but real Japanese moms began packing KitKats for their kids when they left home to take the exams.

While the author of the post offers no links to help reference the above actions, the marketing process is entirely plausible (and probable, in my opinion).

Technorati Tags: KitKats, Japan, Marketing

Speaking of Mad Cow…

Remember last month when Japan lifted a two-year ban on U.S. beef?

Do you recall that the ban was lifted with several export agreements in place to help allay Japan’s fear of BSE?

Remember how many of the Japanese supermarkets were waiting to see how both consumers and the U.S. Beef Industry behaved before commiting to purchasing the beef?

It took all of 40 days for the Beef Industry to break the deal. That has to be some sort of record.

From the article:

Japan has halted the import of U.S. beef after an animal spine was found in a shipment at Tokyo International Airport, sparking new concerns over possible tainted meat less than two months after a previous ban was lifted.

For those of you without a scorecard at home, a spine is a big no-no when it comes to BSE.

This whole episode would be comic if it didn’t have several ramifications, including the loss of a 3.1 billion dollar beef market as well as yet another feather in the USDA’s dunce cap.

Technorati Tags: Food, Beef, Mad Cow, Japan, Food Safety, Trade


Japanese women have taken to increasing their cocoa intake. You really don’t want to know why.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Japan Confirms Case of Mad Cow Disease

So much for importing any Kobe Beef. Japan has confirmed the third case of Mad Cow disease this year.

I’ll rant about Mad Cow a little later.