Well, hello! It has been a while, hasn’t it? A year in fact. A busy year. But you wouldn’t know it. Never in the history of Cultivated Days have I written so much and published so little. Over the past year I’ve been hard at work on three very exciting projects, and I’m ready to tell you about one of them!
I write for you, an English speaking audience, in hopes that I can elucidate things hard to know outside of Japan and eventually lure you to travel and eat in situ. The food culture of Japan is hard to translate, even harder to transport. The restaurants that have opened in increasing numbers in metropolitan hubs around the world have served and valuable ambassadors, introducing a Western palate to Japanese tastes. But as with any articulation of culture, nothing can replicate or replace context. Food is so intimately tied to place. To eat Japanese food in Japan is to experience its fullest expression. And though it has a lot to do with proximity of ingredients, knowledge in the kitchen, and a plethora of discerning clients, there is also something less tangible and more influential, the air and light, the landscape and language. To spend all day immersed in these sensory markers that speak more to the spirit than to the intellect, to experience a culinary tradition in its native context, such a holistic experience makes meals so much more flavorful and memorable.
And so, while it is not within everyone’s means, I encourage those who are intrigued by Japanese food to eat as much of it as possible in Japan. And to this end, it has long been a dream of mine to assist, to offer programs in Japan that illuminate the cultural pathways that lead from seed to plate. And by plate I mean both the food at the table and the vessel on which it’s served, because so often in Japan food and vessels share the spotlight at the table. And it gives me great pleasure to announce that this dream is coming to fruition.
I have partnered with Ace Camps, an experiential travel company based out of Whistler, British Columbia in Canada. In collaboration with local hosts in countries all over the world, they offer travel programs focused on experiential learning. In early November of 2019 I will host a week long program based in and around Karatsu. Over the course of several days we will begin to understand the story of food and ceramics and culture through visits to sake and soy breweries, cooking classes with local chefs, visits to pottery studios, a day of cooking, plating, and eating together in our home, and outings to learn about the origin of unique ingredients like nori. Over the course of the program you will come to understand a local ecosystem of cultivation, production, and artistry and see how it all comes together at the table.
There are many details to work out still, but if you are interested please head over and sign up with Ace Camps. When we have nailed down the itinerary and other logistics, more detailed information will be sent to you and you will be the first to hear when registration opens.