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
Vegan Japanese Cooking Class: Plant-Based Ramen and Gyoza (Gold Award)
Life in the Japanese Countryside: Local Farm-to-Table Meal (Silver Award)
Tour Maebashi, Gunma’s Fermentation City, by Scenic Local Railway (Silver Award)
Connecting with Japan’s Culture through Udon and Calligraphy (Silver Award)
Kawaii and Insta-Worthy Character Bento Class (Silver Award)
A Day in the Life of a Jomon Era Hunter-Gatherer in Niigata (Silver Award)
Traditional Ayu Fishing with Fire on the Maze River (Silver Award)
Decorative Pressed Sushi Class Along the Historical Nakasendo Trail (Silver Award)
Workshop and Sampling the Bonito Flakes of Mie Prefecture (Silver Award)
Bounty of the Sea: Culinary Culture of Ine, From Seafood to Sake (Silver Award)
Fermentation Cooking and 3-Day Traditional House Stay in Nara (Silver Award)
Sustainable Soy: Zero-Waste Cooking Class in Kamakura (Bronze Award)
Miso, Sake, Soy Sauce: Kyoto Fermentation Tour (Bronze Award)
From “Ugly” to Upcycled: Reducing Hokkaido's Food Waste Through Creative Cooking (Jury Award)
Sake Tasting in Kyoto With Your Own Handmade Wooden Cup (Jury Award)
Past Eat! Meet! Japan Winners
Eat! Meet! Japan 2019 Winners
Kamakura Snow Hut Dining Experience with Nagano Cuisine
Farm Stay in Odate with Kiritampo and Hinai Jidori Hot Pot
Tsukiji Outer Market Tour and Cooking Class
Kyoto Tea Farm Tour, Tasting, and Lunch in Scenic Wazuka
Glamping at Hokkaido Dairy Farm with BBQ Dinner
Hike Sacred Mountain with Yamabushi (Includes Shojin Ryori)
Sake in the Sea: Immersive Sake Storage Voyage in Kesennuma
Mushroom Hunting Adventure and Fireside Dining in Niigata
Omicho Market Tour and Cooking Class in Kanazawa’s Kitchen
Nishio Matcha Tea Tour in Aichi: From Farm to Teahouse
Farm-to-Table Matsusaka Beef Sukiyaki at a Farmer’s Inn
Udon Master Class and Udon Tour in Kagawa with 1 Night Stay
Award-Winning Japanese Winery Tour with Gourmet Meal & Wine Pairing
Dashi Workshop and Katsuobushi Factory Tour in Makurazaki
Eat! Meet! Japan 2020 Winners
Okosta Okonomiyaki Cooking Class at Hiroshima Station
Amezaiku Candy Sculpting Workshop in Tokyo
Tasting 6 Mini Bowls of Ramen at 3 Award Winning Shops
Become a Sake Brewer: Sake Brewing Experience in Nagano
Nagano Farm Stay: Frozen Food Culture in Yamaura Village
Shizuoka Tea Farm Tour: Blend Your Own Tea Under Mt. Fuji
Snorkel with Sea Bream: Fishing Boat Tour and Cooking Class
Dine in an Ama Hut with Mie's Traditional Female Freedivers
Obubu Tea Farm Club Membership
Tajima Beef Tasting Course in the Kamakura Snow Huts of Northern Hyogo
Okinawa Tour: Awamori Cave Expedition & Local Okinawan Food
Professional Japanese Culinary Program in Tsuruoka, a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy
Gifu Eco Tour: Nagara River Fishing & Ayu Cuisine
Local Inaka Sushi (Countryside Sushi) Cooking Class in Kochi
Mayuko’s Japanese Home Cooking Class in Tokyo