Ambassador Nogami delivers a speech
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be with you this evening for the final event of Eat-Japan 2005. This festival represents the evolution of the Original Sushi Competition, which was one of the events of Japan 2001 , a series of more than 2,000 Japan-related cultural and educational activities held all over the country in 2001. The competition was so successful that it has been repeated three times since then. Moreover, I understand it is the biggest and most ambitious initiative related to Japanese cuisine ever to have taken place in the United Kingdom.
Interest in Japanese culture, including our cuisine, is growing steadily in the UK. Japanese cuisine is known for its huge variety of seasonal dishes, the importance placed on presentation, and its healthy properties, including the use of low-fat ingredients. Sushi is one of the most prized forms of Japanese cuisine and is increasingly appreciated in this country. Whereas it used to be an exotic and expensive treat seldom available to ordinary people, now one can buy it in major supermarkets and at stations. Indeed, sushi bars are an increasingly common sight in department stores and other prime locations, not only in London but in other cities as well.
Of course, sushi as we know it today is the result of evolution and creative experimentation over the centuries. Thus innovation has played an important role in the history of sushi, and it is innovation that we are here to celebrate this evening. For instance, the California roll, developed in the US, has contributed greatly to the promotion of sushi around the world. It is my hope this evening that a British-born variety of sushi will have a similar impact on the dissemination of sushi culture around the world.
The popularity of sushi in the UK can be gauged from the number of entries to the Original Sushi Competition. This year there are nearly 600 entries, almost 80 per cent of which have been submitted by non-Japanese sushi aficionados. It is particularly significant that as many as 20 primary schools are featured among the group entries. The children involved have thus had the chance to learn something about Japan through our cuisine. This increased awareness conforms with the main aim of Eat-Japan 2005 and its component events - to make Japanese culture accessible to British people and to nurture greater mutual understanding between our two peoples.
I can tell from the enthusiasm of everyone here this evening that Eat-Japan 2005 has been a great success. May I express my profound appreciation of the efforts of everyone involved in this venture, including all the sponsors and supporters, in making it possible.
Past events: Original Sushi Competition 2005