In February 2016, a Japanese cuisine tasting party was held in the Higashiyama Campus of Nagoya University. Recently, the number of foreign tourists to Japan has been increasing, while traditional Japanese cuisine has been registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage; thus, Japanese food culture has been gaining attention from around the world. Backed by this situation, the Japanese government is focusing on expanding the export of Japan's agricultural products as one of the country's key policies. It has vigorously expanded the foreign markets not only for fresh foods like apples and rice, which have already been focused on, but also for processed Japanese food.
This event was conducted through collaboration between Nagoya University, which has many international students, and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO: a government-related organization that works to promote trade between Japan and other countries) as a new attempt to provide international students with Japanese cuisine and make use of their feedback for future development of Japanese food products. About 80 people -- including people involved in the event from Nagoya University and JETRO, the University's international students, and producers of Japanese food -- gathered at the event.
In the tasting party, a variety of bite-sized Japanese foods were arranged on tables. Students tasted them one after another and provided food producers with feedback about the tastes and appearances. The foods arranged on the tables included pickled vegetables, miso, and other traditional Japanese cuisine, as well as modern Japanese foods, such as cheese fermented using sake lees, Japanese pickle salad, and green tea mixed with herbs. I myself also tasted some of them and thought they were all delicious. However, there were some harsh opinions from overseas students, like "I don't like this sourness," and "It's unpleasantly thick to the tongue."
Students from different countries eat different kinds of cuisine; thus, each of them has a different sense of taste, and their judgment of Japanese food varies greatly. It was very interesting for me to see that the sense of taste between Japanese and overseas students was quite different.
Speaking of international students, we often see them when walking in the campus of Nagoya University. I sometimes feel as if I were in a foreign country. Actually, there are many overseas students in Nagoya University: as of 2014, it had 2,079 international students from 97 countries and regions around the world. The University had also signed an academic exchange agreement with overseas institutions (122 inter-university agreements and 250 inter-school agreements) in 52 countries. In this way, the University has been expanding its network worldwide. If you would like to know more about its admissions for international students, please see the following website:
Reported by Takahiro Ogawa (Japan), Graduate School of Bio-agricultural Sciences
(Modified and Translated by the Public Relations Division, Nagoya University)