May 18, 2019
Dishes made for past Olympics using local Japanese ingredients are offered at Gran-Eat Ginza in Chuo Ward, Tokyo.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics offer a prime opportunity to showcase local Japanese food products to both domestic and international audiences.
Promotion councils have been set up at the prefectural level to supply locally produced fruits, vegetables and marine products to the Olympic Village and competition venues. Preparations are moving ahead, including the provision of support to acquire food safety certifications and compile lists of ingredients.
In March, for example, pig farmers in Izumizaki, Fukushima Prefecture, acquired Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification, which guarantees food safety and other qualities.
GAP is administered in Japan by the Japan GAP Foundation — which was founded by agricultural producers and other entities — and prefectural governments, among other entities. The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is asking producers to acquire GAP certification so they can supply agricultural and livestock products to the Olympic Village and other venues. Similar certification is also required to supply marine products to venues.
The Fukushima prefectural government established a promotional council in July 2017 to enhance its reputation following the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster. The prefecture has supported producers through such measures as covering the costs of inspections required to obtain certification.
Sixty-eight products, including peaches and lettuces, have already received certification.
“Supplying our produce for the Olympics is a chance to objectively prove both the delicious taste and safety of Fukushima Prefecture’s foods,” a prefectural official said.
Iwate Prefecture promotes its wakame seaweed, saury and Konjiki no Kaze brand rice, among other products. It has obtained certification for at least 35 products, and plans to hold food fairs targeting business operators so it can expand into its target markets even after the Games end.
Hokkaido has compiled a list that contains information on local producers and agricultural, livestock and marine products, and introduces 67 items on its website.
“We’re able to supply not only summer vegetables such as tomatoes and green peppers, but also produce for a wide range of uses,” a prefectural official said.
Mie Prefecture, famous for its Matsusaka beef and Ise tuna, has invited chefs from hotels in Tokyo and elsewhere, and promotes its products by holding tours of production areas and other events.
Last winter, the Shimane prefectural Izumo Norin agriculture and forestry high school in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, acquired certification for its grapes. Tsutomu Fujiwara, a teacher at the high school, explained that “if the grapes are used at the Olympics, the students will gain a sense of confidence and achievement.”
Japan is expected to provide 120,000 tons of food from 242 different products during the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
“We should give priority to domestic products when making selections,” a member of the organizing committee said. The menu for the Olympic Village will be finalized as soon as this autumn, followed by selection of products to be sourced from various areas throughout Japan.
Meals from past and future
Some of the fare expected to be served at the Olympic Village and elsewhere during the Games can already be sampled.
At Gran-Eat Ginza, a restaurant that opened in Tokyo in March, certified products used to make dishes previously served at Olympic Villages can be enjoyed at the restaurant’s buffet.
The restaurant re-created a Brazilian soup served at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games using chicken from Gifu Prefecture, carrots from Chiba Prefecture and rice from Yamagata Prefecture.
A casserole dish served at the 2012 London Games is re-created using pork from Tategamori Ark Farm in Iwate Prefecture and apples from the Kakusho apple growers association in Aomori Prefecture.
Last summer, Gifu and Tokushima prefectures served dishes such as pasta and minced-meat cutlets using GAP-certified ingredients at prefectural government cafeterias.
The Yamagata prefectural government likewise offered “Chisan Chisho Bento” boxed lunches last autumn, promoting the concept of “locally produced and consumed.”