Kobe: Japan’s Culinary Melting Pot

Aiko Tanaka

Osaka Shoin Women’s High School and University, Japan

Professor Emeritus of Food Studies at Osaka Shoin Women’s University, Osaka, Japan
Author and Food Historian
Chairman of the Edible Herb Garden Association
Co-founder of the Food Studies for SDGs Research Institute (FSRI)

Aiko Tanaka is the founder of the Food Studies Programs at both Osaka Shoin Women’s High School (2011) and University (2014), the first food education programs of their kind in Japan. Having taught at the university level for six years, she currently holds the title of professor emeritus. These days Aiko keeps busy presenting seminars on Japanese foodways, cooking and culture at symposiums around the world, the most recent of which was a virtual presentation on wild yuzu at Oxford University’s Food Symposium in July of 2020. She also holds regular cooking lessons at Aiko Tanaka Culinary School in Osaka. Over the past two decades her recipes have been featured in numerous newspaper and magazine articles, and she has appeared as guest chef on programs such as Japanese television’s Kyo no Ryori. In 2018 Aiko published her first book in English, Food Studies of Osaka: From Paddy Field to Our Chopsticks. In 2019 the Japan Food Studies for SDGs Research Institute was created by Aiko and other like-minded individuals who saw a need to bring Japan’s awareness of SDGs up to par with other developed nations. It is her goal to continue the promotion of Japanese cooking and ingredients, and to educate today’s youth on the importance of Food Studies.

Kobe: Japan’s Culinary Melting Pot

Kobe. A port city uniquely situated between mountain and sea, where the ageless green peaks of Rokko guard the blue waves which stretch onward towards distant lands. In the second half of the 19th Century, when the government under Emperor Meiji opened Japan to trade with other nations, Kobe became a welcoming gateway. To this day the city is home to a thriving community of foreign residents, and historical neighborhoods such as Kitano-cho and Nankin-machi give the feeling of being in another country. Foods that were considered “exotic” a century ago found a following among the Japanese natives: the good smells of Chinese street fare, the sweet aroma of butter and sugar as European cakes baked in modern ovens, a hearty Russian soup on a slow simmer…. At the same time, life in a city by the sea meant that the people of Kobe, both Japanese and foreign-born, could enjoy the freshest fish and traditional Japanese foods that the ocean had to offer. It is this culinary melding of East and West that I would like to explore with you in my presentation.

  • Part 1: Food from the Sea (10 mins)
  • Exploring Kobe’s geographical features and their influence on local cuisine.

  • Part 2: Kobe’s Culinary History in Brief (10 mins)
  • How the local foreign presence influenced culinary development.

  • Part 3: Cooking Demonstration (10 mins)
  • Hanshinkan Modernism: How to make Omurice and Oyakodon.

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Taste Washoku to Unveil Japanese Society: Encountering with Wagyu and Matcha
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Kobe: Japan’s Culinary Melting Pot
Aiko Tanaka | Osaka Shoin Women’s High School and University, Japan

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Haruko Satoh in Conversation with Daisuke Utagawa

Wadaiko Performance
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