How Japan promotes food culture to the world

The promotion of food culture has become a national policy

  In terms of “going out” of food culture, Japan has spared no effort in putting forward a food culture brand strategy as early as 2004. The Japanese government believes that national brands are not necessarily high-end products that are unattainable. Clothing, food and regional products that are ubiquitous in daily life can be selected. In 2005, Japan wrote its brand strategy into the Intellectual Property Promotion Plan, pointing out the need to re-evaluate these excellent elements in Japanese culture, and clearly positioning food culture as one of the elements of Japanese brands.
  The Cabinet Office of Japan proposed the “Cool Japan Strategy” in 2010, which aims to spread the charm of Japan through cultural soft power such as content industry, clothing, and food. In the promotion of the food culture of the “Cool Japan Strategy”, TV dramas such as “Late Night Cafeteria” and “The Lonely Gourmet” that describe the food life of the common people have been well received in China, South Korea and other countries, and have become successful cases of Japanese food culture entering neighboring countries. “Late Night Cafeteria” tells the story of the communication between customers who come to the cafeteria in the early morning and the owner. The small canteens and mass eating in the play have changed people’s stereotypes about Japanese cuisine. With the decline of the population, Korean people have changed from big family dinners to eating alone. “Lonely Gourmet”, which depicts middle-aged men eating public cuisine alone, also resonated with Korean audiences. Both of these two TV dramas use food as the material, and demonstrate the spirit of craftsmanship and the various states of the world in the production and tasting of popular dishes. This kind of storytelling method that integrates daily cooking into all living beings directly hits people’s hearts and promotes Japanese food invisibly. culture.
  Different from the subtle propaganda method chosen by the Cabinet Office, in 2017, in the Basic Law of Culture and Art, the Agency for Cultural Affairs clearly included the revitalization of food culture as an important part of Japanese cultural policy into legal provisions. The Agency for Cultural Affairs hopes to improve foreigners’ evaluation of Japanese food culture, and to popularize Japanese food and food culture, while increasing the number of tourists visiting Japan for the purpose of tasting Japanese food. To this end, the Department of Cultural Affairs has taken multiple measures to adopt differentiated publicity models for different groups. The Agency for Cultural Affairs divides target groups into three categories. The first category is people who have not paid attention to Japanese food and food culture. The propaganda model for such groups is based on “creating interest”. The Agency for Cultural Affairs produced virtual reality animations based on the food culture of the four seasons of the Edo period, allowing people to intuitively experience the characteristics of Japanese food culture. The second category is the group interested in Japanese food culture. For such groups, in the form of animation, the charm of Japanese food culture is highlighted from the five dimensions of “skills”, “tradition”, “local cuisine”, “seasons”, and “utensils and decoration”. . The third category is the group who want to know more about Japanese food culture. Aiming at this group of people, excavate the connotation of food culture in the form of telling “food culture stories”. In order to make the stories vivid and distinctive, the Agency for Cultural Affairs requires local governments to tell local food culture stories in the form of animation or text on the basis of literature survey and field investigation. For example, when telling the story of “Kaiseki”, in addition to expressing the techniques, customs and creativity of “Kaiseki”, it is also necessary to highlight the cultural connotations such as utensils, platters and hospitality.
  Another important measure of the Agency for Cultural Affairs is to revise the “Cultural Property Protection Act” in 2021 to establish a registration system for food and cultural heritage. Japanese cultural heritage adopts two protection systems: designated and registered. The designation system refers to the designation of cultural resources with high historical and cultural value as intangible cultural heritage; for cultural resources that have not yet reached the designated standards, a registration system will be set up from 2021, as long as the local food culture is eligible for registration It is recognized as an intangible cultural heritage. This move has greatly improved the visibility of food culture in various places, and transformed the food culture with regional characteristics into local intangible cultural heritage.
  The Cabinet Office and the Cultural Affairs Office mainly publicize and promote food culture, while the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is the one that implements various measures and converts them into economic income. In 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries launched a farmhouse (“SAVOR JAPAN”) project targeting foreign tourists, aiming to attract foreign tourists to visit the rural and fishing villages where the origin of Japanese food culture and food production is located, in order to promote agriculture, forestry and fishery products, Export of food. A region that becomes a farmhouse needs to be supported by a diverse food culture, where foreign tourists can not only taste Japanese cuisine, but also get in touch with the local food culture. For example, Tsuruoka City in Yamagata Prefecture has been recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries as an area for developing farmhouses. The practitioners use more than 50 kinds of local characteristic crops to make “shojin cuisine”, which is representative of Japanese food culture. Tourists can get material and spiritual here. double experience.

“The Lonely Foodie” stills.
Three-step strategy and transformation challenges

  Japan’s promotion of food culture can be summarized as a “three-step” strategy of strengthening publicity, deepening promotion, and strengthening brand building.
  In terms of publicity, different provinces and departments have their own priorities. The “Cool Japan Strategy” of the Cabinet Office focuses on the export of popular food culture, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology pays attention to the promotion of food culture with traditional cultural value, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries tends to promote and sell rural cultural experiences that integrate accommodation and food. agricultural products. This three-in-one publicity model can form a synergy and increase promotion efforts.
  In terms of promotion, it is promoted layer by layer for groups with different cultural backgrounds in order to deepen. The Japanese government found through surveys that netizens in different countries spend different times on food websites. Some foreign netizens spend a long time on the “arts” webpage, while others focus on “local cuisine”. This shows that different histories Cultural backgrounds lead to differences in the focus of audiences. Therefore, the Agency for Cultural Affairs is working to fully investigate where, what kind of people, why, what part of Japan is attractive to, whether their feelings have changed with the times, and how future trends will develop in publicity and promotion. Positioning and in-depth promotion.
  In terms of brand building, in 2013, Japanese Washoku was successfully applied for the World Heritage List due to its high-end ingredients, exquisite platters and unique philosophy. In 2021, the Agency for Cultural Affairs will revise the “Cultural Property Protection Act” to allow local food culture that meets the requirements to be registered as Japan’s intangible cultural heritage.
  With the advent of the digital age, the promotion of Japanese food culture is also facing the need for transformation, and the post-epidemic era will also bring new challenges. These factors have prompted the Japanese authorities to change their thinking and look for new opportunities.
  The first is the need to further interpret foreign markets and unlock traffic passwords. The Japanese government believes that in the past, profit was mainly used as an indicator to evaluate the effect of policy implementation, but only pursuing profit would result in measures not being continuous. Only by grasping the core essence of successfully breaking the circle can we use this as a breakthrough to continuously manufacture best-selling products and arouse the consumption desire of foreign audiences.
  Secondly, content is king and technology is empowered, that is, to fully tap the charm behind the food culture, and tell the story of food culture in various forms. With the deepening of foreigners’ understanding of Japan, they are not satisfied with the superficial understanding of Japanese food culture, but begin to look forward to understanding the deep connotation of the culture. Therefore, the Japanese government will dig deeper into the connotation of food culture and enhance cultural taste. And in the digital age, it will be supplemented by a variety of publicity methods to allow foreign audiences to gain a rich cultural experience.
  Finally, it is up to the local government to take the lead and create a regional food culture brand. There are many attractive food cultures in Japan, but the local areas have not deeply recognized its charm and lacked the awareness of spreading it. Therefore, the Japanese government will change the model dominated by the Cabinet Office and the Agency for Cultural Affairs, and take the revision of the Cultural Property Protection Act as an opportunity to build cultural brands at the local level, and achieve cross-industry and cross-regional cross-industry and cross-regional connections through horizontal connections within and between regions. organic links, looking for promotion points to amplify the intrinsic value of the brand.