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2012年4月24日 (火)

Project Roots/プロジェクトルーツ

Finally, the time to leave Tokyo has come. When I started this blog, the first artilce was “To begin with”, where I wrote a bit about why I’m starting this blog. The article on my last day in Tokyo, I write about how Project Roots was started and how it has been developed.

It was the year 2008. With an ambition to open a Japanese restaurant in Munich in my mind, I quit work to get enrolled full-time at a cookery school, worked at a Japanese restaurant at night, and visited Munich for market research during summer break. I aimed to introduce Japanese home-style cooking to foreign people who know only sushi, tempra and sukiyaki as Japanese foods. My mother’s cooking is my root in Japanese cuisine, and my dream was big enough to wish that my cooking becomes Muncheners’ roots to Japanese cuisine and food culture. Therefore, I knew already then that I’ll name my restaurant “Roots”. Though I was so resolute, I had to give up my business plan and came back to Tokyo and the business world in August, 2009.

My original plan was scrapped, but I didn’t want to give it up and thought that there should be other ways to introduce wonderful Japanese cooking to non-Japanese. While I was looking for a job, I was preparing for “another” business plan; teaching Japanese cooking to foreign residents in Tokyo. That’s how the concept of Project Roots was created, developed, and the project was launched in September, 2009. Most of my students were expats. Some have already left the country to go back their home, and some have been coming since the launch. Living in Japan, their experience of Japanese foods is rich, and they’re willing to try and learn unique (for us common, though) Japanese food materials, preparation, cooking methods, cooking utensils etc. “Basic Japanese Cooking” course was the most popular, and it was actually the course that I think the best. Most of my students, after completing “BJC”, took “Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter Table on Japanese Table”, which focused on seasonal materials. Contrary to my expectation, “Sushi Club” was not so popular. Just before my students were leaving for home, I often tailored special lessons upon their request. After about a year, Japanese students started to come for lessons. Some were for Japanese cooking, and some were for Italian/French/confectionery lessons. To add more to my cooking portfolio, I took Italian cooking lessons in the last two years. Also, some fun events with my students, such as, a tour to the Kappabashi cooking tools street and outdoor potluck party, were held. As it’s mother’s joy to see their husband/children’s smiling and hear them saying “Yummy”, it delighted as well as encouraged me when my students were eating what they’ve prepared, saying “Yummy!”

My life is to be based in the UK.  Part of me feels it’s pity that I have to leave this country, which is my roots, and to give up the project in Tokyo only after two years and half. But my hope is to continue the project in the UK. It could take some time though, because a plan that meets the market demand should be prepared and procurement of certain unique but essential Japanese food materials should be set up (or learning substitutes if any). As my original business plan to set up a Japanese restaurant “Roots” was transformed to the cooking lesson project “Project Roots”, still realizing its bottom-line, some different form to tak eover the concept of "Roots", that is, introducing Japanese cooking to the world, might be achieved. And, I’ll continue to write articles on this blog. As I wrote “Sign of life” on the next day after the 3.11 northeastern earthquake disaster, this is my sign of life.


とうとう、東京を離れる日が来ました。このブログを始めるきっかけは、「はじめに」で、ほんの少しだけ触れましたが、そもそもProject Rootsを始めるきっかけとこれまでのことを最後に書いておこうと思います。


レストラン経営ではなくても、外国人に日本の家庭の味を伝える手段はあるはずと、就職活動の傍ら準備をしていたのが、日本在住外国人向けの和食の料理教室です。そして、20099月から、Project Rootsが始まりました。生徒さんの多くは駐在員で、プロジェクト開始当時からずっと来て下さっている方もいれば、母国に帰られた方も多くいます。日本にいる方たちなので日本食の経験値も高く、日本独特の食材、下準備、作り方、調理器具など、高いアンテナをもってレッスンに臨んで下さいました。いちばん人気があったのが「基本の和食」コースで、手前味噌ですが、よく出来たプログラムになっているものでした。大抵の生徒さんは、「基本の和食」終了後は、四季の食材を使ったコースを取って下さいました。プロジェクト開始から一年ぐらいから、日本人の生徒さんも増え、レッスンは、和食だけではなく、イタリアン、フレンチ、製菓にも広がっていきました。私自身も、見識を深めるため、昨年、一昨年続けて、フィレンツェでトスカーナの家庭料理を習う機会も設けました。また、生徒さんをお誘いし、かっぱ橋道具街ツアーや隅田川の川辺でポットラックパーティーも企画しました。作ったごはんを、旦那さんや子どもたちが「美味しい」と言って食べてくれると、お母さんたちは嬉しいのと同じで、生徒さんが作った料理を試食するとき、「んー、おいしぃー」と言う姿は本当に嬉しく、やりがいを感じるものでした。

これからは、私の生活の拠点はイギリスになります。私のルーツであるこの国を離れること、Project Rootsを終えなくてはいけないのは残念ですが、イギリスでもProject Rootsは継続したいと思っています。マーケットの需要を知るのと、独特かつ入手困難な食材の調達、または、代替を自分が経験していく必要があるので、時間はかかるかもしれません。ただ、、当初の計画(レストラン)が料理教室になったように、ボトムラインである日本の家庭料理を伝える他のカタチが生まれるかもしれません。そして、このブログも継続していくつもりです。東日本大震災のとき、「無事です」の記事でも書いたように、これが私の生きている証です。


This is where I've lived and the lessons were held for Project Roots. Hoping to come back someday.

ここが私が住み、Project Rootsのレッスンを行った場所です。いつの日か、戻ってこられますように。

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Dear Sensei, thank you for all your many ideas, suggestions, observations on this blog. As I read through it, I get a real sense of who you are and what is important for you. I had never imagined that so much could be conveyed through writing about food.. as opposed to eating it! I too hope that one day you will return to your much-loved home. Meanwhile, please keep writing.. and cooking. Ricardo

Sensei, hello - I just finished watching the movie Tampopo again. (again? maybe for the 20th time in my life..) What drew me to it was some subconscious awareness that it expresses so much through and about food, just as I noticed your blog does. I can really recommend that any of your followers, and you yourself, re/see this movie.. It is so like your blog: all of life and even death is seen through the medium of food, eating, cooking. I could say to you: 'stop writing your blog, it's all in Tampopo'. Or I could say: 'Cancel the movie, it's all in her blog'. Or maybe both together are best.


Hello Ricardo-san

Thank you for your comments.
I've never watched the movie, "Tanpopo", though I knew it as one of famous Itami's works. Jean Anthelme Brilat-Savarin said, "Tell me what you eat, and I'll tell you who you are." Or, nowdays people would say "You are what you eat." to point out the importance of our diet.
Considering 5W1H (what, where, when, why, (with) who and how) around your "I eat", it tells your "roots."







この記事へのトラックバック一覧です: Project Roots/プロジェクトルーツ:

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