TOKYO, Jul. 24 – Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan (MAFF) has launched a new project to boost the number of Japanese food lovers worldwide and expand Japan’s export of agricultural and food products. It aims at providing international travelers with unique experiences that focus on the coupling between Japanese food and culture or health-conscious local attractions while creating an environment for them to continue to enjoy Japanese food back home. MAFF will gather successful cases and develop models for nationwide introduction.
The initiative is called “Shoku Kakeru Project.” Literary, it means crossing (kake-awaseru) food (shoku) and other sectors and encouraging Japanese food fans crisscross (kake-meguru) the country. According to the Japan Tourism Agency, 68% of inbound travelers named Japanese food when they are asked what they expected from a trip to Japan. The ministry plans to raise the interest even further.
Farm Ministry is currently staging “Shoku Kakeru Prize” campaign to gather ideas for offering various attractions that feature the combination of food and something else such as history and sports. The applicants are asked to submit the plans such as historical tours with dining at local restaurants or cycling events with local fruits stations. By strongly promoting unique food and local attractions at the same time, it tries to win a loyal following.
The prize-winning ideas will be introduced on travel booking sites and can receive supports from dispatched tourism professionals. In the future, combining food and other services will be new business models for farming villages to attract more travelers, MAFF explained.
Also, to make it possible for travelers to enjoy Japanese food again at home, a new scheme will be created to provide information about Japanese food and food culture via existing overseas supermarkets, restaurants, online shops, and events.
“The demand for Japanese food among the inbound tourists will grow, but not only that, the demand for Japanese food back home will also grow if we can make more Japanese food fans. The project will hopefully lead to the expansion of sales channels at home and abroad,” says a MAFF official who is in charge of food culture and market development.