On November 22, 2021, fifteen winners assembled for Eat! Meet! Japan’s 2021 award ceremony, a contest that recognizes and promotes the best Japanese food experiences across the country. From 175 applications, these fifteen experiences were chosen, representing 10 prefectures of Japan.
Each of the experiences below offer profound insights into Japanese cuisine and intimate windows into the lives of the people who are keeping Japanese food traditions alive.
Notably, this year there was a trend towards sustainability, with hosts encouraging plant-based meals, teaching zero-waste cooking, and upcycling unmarketable veggies into creative dishes.
Fermented foods also star in many of these Eat! Meet! Japan award-winning experiences. From sake in Kyoto to katsuobushi (bonito flakes) in Mie, to koji-based dishes in Nara, and even natto in Gunma; Japan’s long-standing culinary methods of hakkо̄ (fermentation) are celebrated through tours and workshops.
Deep dining experiences await…
An opportunity to explore the depth of Japanese food culture; come along and step into the shoes of a Jomon period hunter-gatherer for a day, or appreciate the sea’s bounty with the boathouse-dwelling people of Ine.
Travelers will leave these experiences with a newfound appreciation for the people who have an unseen but vital hand in our food production system, making possible the ingredients and Japanese dishes that we take for granted every day.
What is Eat! Meet! Japan?
Commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, the Eat! Meet! Japan project aims to encourage repeat visits to Japan, promoting unique food experiences that will continue to captivate foreign tourists even after multiple trips to Japan.
Having run for 3 consecutive years since 2019, Eat! Meet! Japan has recognized 44 food experiences so far. The hosts of these award-winning experiences receive mentoring from food and tourism industry professionals, video production services, and increased visibility through social media marketing.
To learn more, see the links below.
Official Website (English): https://eatmeetjapan.co/
Official Website (Japanese): https://www.eatmeetjapan.jp/
Eat! Meet! Japan 2021 Winners
Miso, Sake, Soy Sauce: Kyoto Fermentation Tour (Bronze Award)
From “Ugly” to Upcycled: Reducing Hokkaido's Food Waste Through Creative Cooking (Jury Award)
Past Eat! Meet! Japan Winners
Eat! Meet! Japan 2019 Winners
Kamakura Snow Hut Dining Experience with Nagano Cuisine
Award-Winning Japanese Winery Tour with Gourmet Meal & Wine Pairing
Eat! Meet! Japan 2020 Winners
Tajima Beef Tasting Course in the Kamakura Snow Huts of Northern Hyogo
Professional Japanese Culinary Program in Tsuruoka, a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy