Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko hosted a tea party for top athletes, academics and cultural figures at the Imperial Palace on Tuesday.
The guests included former Olympic figure skater Mao Asada, baseball legend Sadaharu Oh and Nobel laureate Yoshinori Ohsumi. Representatives of local governments were also invited.
Besides teaching Japanese cuisine in Tokyo's Akasaka district, Naoyuki Yanagihara frequents libraries to read documents from the Edo Period (1603-1867). He believes that studying the originality and ingenuity of his forerunners will show him the path he should take.
"I try to learn the changes in the ingredients and cooking procedures and make use of them today," the 39-year-old cooking expert says.
By Miho Saeki / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterBeverages, sweets and other products flavored with hojicha, or Japanese roasted green tea, have become a common sight in stores these days.
Hojicha's mild flavor and aroma have brought new popularity to existing products. Increasing health consciousness among consumers has also fueled the trend.
With Japan's consumption of green tea in steady decline, a new breed of casual cafe specializing in the traditional brew aims to reverse the trend by introducing customers to a wide variety of brands, as well as unconventional serving methods.
Customers including visitors from overseas and young Japanese are able to learn about green tea and perhaps find a new favorite variety at such cafes.
The people of Japan will likely need little introduction to the green tea cultivated, packaged and brewed in Shizuoka. Prefecture and drink have become a default pairing in the minds of a nation, and not without good reason. Plantations and people combine here to handle production for nearly half of Japan’s green tea.
It’s an impressive boast considering the humble beginings when, during the 13th century, Buddhist high priest Shoichi Kokushi on his return from China, pushed tea plant seeds into the earth of the Abe River basin, in the Ashikubo region of Shizuoka. In doing so, Kokushi quite literally planted the seeds of a product, tradition, and culture that would help spearhead Japan’s post-WWII economic recovery, and become an integral part of life in the country.
Tea darlings may have seen the bundles highlighting charming pictures of honey bees and young ladies. They are composed by Utako Yamada, 54, a tea expert.
Yamada energizes and advances the drinking of top-quality tea and visits makers in Sri Lanka to hand-choose the takes off. She then mixes them and transforms them into products.