Japanese cuisine and liquor showcased at Matsuri festival

March 31st, 2012 - 4:17 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 31 (IANS) Six varieties of Sake, the Japanese rice wine, and two kinds of Shochu, a Japanese spirit made from sweet potatoes, were on offer to tempt the palate at a Matsuri, a Japanese style spring festival showcasing Japanese liquors and cuisine, in the capital.

The Japanese embassy in Delhi organised a Matsuri Friday evening complete with a traditional Omikoshi, a portable shrine.

Speaking on the occasion, Japanese Ambassador Akitaka Saiki claimed that despite India being the third largest consumer of alcohol, the presence of Japanese liquors had been minimal and the festival aimed at introducing the Indian consumers to Japanese products.

“Despite India being the third largest market for alcohol and the demand increasing at 30 percent annually, Japanese liquors constitute only 0.07 percent of this market,” he said.

In Japan, festivals or holidays are called Matsuris. These Matsuris don’t have a fixed time but are usually held in late summer or autumn and are generally associated with the harvest of rice crops or blossoming of cherry flowers.

According to Saiki, the event was scheduled for last year but was cancelled after the 2011 earthquake which left Japan devastated. However, he added that one of the four participating breweries was from Fukushima and in one year, had bounced back from the tragedy.

Fukushima region of Japan was the hardest hit by the 2011 quake and resulting tsunami.

The breweries were amongst the best in Japan with one of them, Sudo-Honke, set up in 12th century, being the oldest functioning brewery in Japan. Other participating breweries were Daishichi Sake Brewery, Masuda Sake Brewery and Kyoya Distillers, Saiki said.

Union Minister of State for Tourism, Sultan Ahmed was the chief guest, while Katsuya Okihiro, president of Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in India, was the guest of honor at the festival.

Ahmed invited the Japanese tourism to organise more such events in India and hoped that “Japanese Sake will be as famous as other Japanese products like Suzuki cars.”

The ceremony started with a group of embassy workers lifting the Omikoshi and parading it through the hall with a group of Japanese musicians playing flute and drums.

Later, Saiki, Ahmed and Okihiro broke open the ceremonial barrel of Sake, which, according to counselor Aya Yoshida, was the Japanese equivalent of breaking a coconut before an auspicious ceremony.

The Japanese restaurants in the capital region also participated in the event and showcased Japanese cuisine such as Sushi, Ramen soup and Tempura.

The event was attended by senior Indian and foreign diplomats.

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