2020.08.28Food Experiences to Make Part of Your Japan Event
Japan’s reputation for incredible food undoubtedly strengthens the appeal of people attending events hosted in the country. Washoku (traditional Japanese cuisine) was designated a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage in 2013 and Tokyo has held the crown as the most Michelin-starred city in the world for 13 consecutive years. Japan’s capital now has 226 restaurants with stars according to the Michelin Guide Tokyo 2020.
Adding culinary team building events, food factory tours and using food-related facilities as unique venues are some of the many ways you can give your event participants a memorable foodie experience in Japan.
Here we share six food-related experiences from around Japan that MICE professionals can incorporate into their events.
1. Get inspired by the inventor of CUPNOODLES in Yokohama
At CUPNOODLES MUSEUM YOKOHAMA you can relive the history and the creative thinking of Momofuku Ando, the inventor of Chicken Ramen, the world’s first instant noodles. Showing perseverance brings results, Ando worked by himself, sleeping just four hours a night, for an entire year before he found the secret to instant noodles in 1958. Wishing to spread their popularity around the world, he next invented CUPNOODLES in 1971. Creative until the very end, in 2005, at aged 96, Ando launched Space Ram, instant noodles that can be eaten in Space.
The entire museum is designed to stimulate the spirit of creativity. Learn the six key ideas essential to Ando’s creative thinking and entrepreneurial spirit. Don’t leave without creating your own completely original CUPNOODLES, choosing your favorite soup flavor and toppings and designing your own label. Find out more about business events and incentives in Yokohama.
2. Find your Zen at a mountain temple in Hamamatsu
Over 500 stone statues of arhat, Buddhists who have attained nirvana, will welcome you as you ascend the road leading to Okuyama Houkouji Temple in Hamamatsu. Dating back to 1371, numerous buildings and a three-story pagoda make up the temple precinct. Here you can have a full-day immersive Zen experience. Calm your mind by trying shabutsu, the practice of tracing a picture of a Buddhist image onto a sheet of paper. Have a monk lead you through zazen meditation, showing you how to cross your legs and keep the correct posture. The culinary highlight is a lunch of shojin ryori, Buddhist vegetarian dishes prepared with vegetables as the core ingredients and with no meat, fish nor garlic. Hamamatsu is famous for eel and here the monks prepare their own special take on unaju (eel over rice served in a box) with imitation eel made from tofu, lotus root and yam. Hamamatsu is home to many Japanese brands known around the world, such as Suzuki, Yamaha and Honda. Find out more.
3. Take the Morioka noodle challenge
Wanko soba is an all-you-can-eat noodle experience particular to Morioka. To show hospitality and entertain guests, small portions of buckwheat soba noodles are served into your bowl as the servers chant “hai jan, hai don don,” as encouragement to eat more. The noodles keep coming until you say you have had enough. Fifteen small portions are roughly equivalent to a regular size bowl of soba noodles. However, restaurants in Morioka have records of guests eating over 500 portions!
Why not organize a wanko soba contest at your convention’s social gathering? It is sure to create excitement and offers an authentic Japanese omotenashi hospitality experience.
More about MICE events in Morioka here.
4. Indulge at Sapporo’s chocolate wonderland
If someone from Hokkaido visits you, chances are they will bring you the northern island’s famous Shiroi Koibito biscuits. See how these thin cookies sandwiched with white chocolate are made at the Shiroi Koibito theme park in Sapporo. MICE packages are the perfect mix of education and fun. See a projection mapping show telling the history of chocolate and take a tour of the factory to observe the cookie making in action. Shiroi Koibito cookie tins and keychains that can be customized with a company’s name, logo or photo. Find out more about Shiroi Koibito and Sapporo.
5. Go on a noodle safari in Kagawa
Kagawa on the island of Shikoku is so famous for chewy, thick wheat noodles that it has udon taxis. Drivers must pass three udon-related tests - a written exam, a field test (to ensure they are knowledgeable and entertaining) and demonstrate their own noodle-making skills. You can easily spot the taxis as they have a replica bowl of udon on the roof. Arrange udon taxis for participants in a MICE event to take them on a noodle safari.
There are about 700-800 udon restaurants in Kagawa with locals eating an average of 33 kilograms (73 pounds) of udon noodles annually. What better place to learn to make udon? Artisans share the secrets behind Kagawa’s famed Sanuki udon in 90-minute lessons. Make noodles from scratch, cook and eat all in one satisfying session. Find out more about holding events and incentives in Japan’s udon capital here.
6. Say you learned to make sushi at Tokyo’s iconic Tsukiji market
Eating sushi is one of the must do things for most visitors to Japan. At Tsukiji you can take a lesson on the history, etiquette and actual making of Japan’s most famous food from a true sushi master.
The hands-on lesson covers nigiri (rectangles of seasoned rice topped with fish) and temaki (cone-shaped rolls). Excellent for team building, the lesson even includes standing behind the sushi counter to pratice your eye contact and banter with guests, as engaging in chitchat with diners is one of the many skills of a good sushi chef. Naturally, you’ll sample a range of sushi at the end of the lesson and packages can include memorbillia such as commemorative photos, a course completion certificate and a special sushi mug. Learn more here.
Let us now on our LinkedIn or Facebook page which of these you’d most like to add to an event in Japan!