L’Effervescence chef Shinobu Namae serving up crazy yummy bowls of his ramen made with Yusuke Sezaki’s katsuobushi from his company Kaneshichi. Yum!
I had the extremely good fortune to be invited to speak at Tokyo’s first annual Fermentation Future Forum (F3) a couple weeks ago. The forum was organized by cultural luminary Teruo Kurosaki and his bright and creative staff. Kurosaki-san is a world renowned designer, former owner of Idee, founder of the Tokyo United Nations University Farmers Market, publisher-owner of Media Surf, owner-founder of Midori co-working spaces, Freedom University and much, much more. I have had the pleasure of getting to know him the past several months through a project that I am editing for Hawthorne Books — the English edition of True Portland — which comes out this spring.
Pretty soon after Kurosaki-san and I met he was interested in the annual Portland Fermentation Festival which I co-founded with my dear friends George Winborn and David Barber in 2009. Some folks close to him attended this year’s late October festival and the next thing you know I had an invite to come speak at his first annual Fermentation Future Forum. Kurosaki-san works fast!
There is much to share about F3, which was held at the United Nations University and Kurosaki’s UNU Farmers Market there — and I think that photos do the best job. They give you an eye into just how special and inspiring the weekend was. I also uploaded my talk here if you want to have a listen. The translated talk (translated by Mai Oyama and moderated by my friend Etsuyo Okajima of Freedom University) took place in the main hall at the United Nations University where the forum took place.
The talk right before mine featured super rad hip hop DJ Misoshiru (making fermented food and other Japanese traditional foods and cooking hip in Japan through her music) along with Seiichiro Tsuji, a specialist of Japanese fermented foods from 6,000 years ago during Japan’s Jomon period. This sort of program coupling gives you just a bit of an idea of what a diverse feed the mind and feed the belly festival F3 was. Thousands attended and it was a huge success. There was also the outdoor part of the fermented food festival that took place during the indoor talks (also free and open to the public) where fest attendees sampled all sorts of sakes, misos, cured meats and more from the makers themselves. Two-star Michelin chef Shinobu Namae of L’Effervescence was there serving up one of the best ramens I’ve ever tasted, Yoshida Brewery (of the film Birth of Sake) was there sampling sakes and many, many others were there from throughout Japan serving up delicious and creative ferments.
Again, I am so honored that I got to be a part of Tokyo’s first annual fermentation festival and I hope that we have many years of colorful, creative and inspiring collaboration ahead between the Fermentation Future Forum and the Portland Fermentation Festival.
Fermentation Future Forum — F3
Listen to my talk at F3
Soooo cold! Luckily there were a lot of crazy tasty sakes on hand to warm us up.
It was really crazy having just watched the excellent documentary Birth of Sake which features this fellow — Yachan aka Yasuyuki (Yas) Yoshida — sixth generation at Yoshida Brewery and the next in line to take over the brewery. Yas is in the yellow jacket and to see him and Yoshida at F3 was wild and…
I got to try Yoshida’s newest winter sake. It tasted like lychee and grapefruit and snow all at once. I’ll never forget it and I really hope to have it again soon.
F3 was part indoors — talks and workshops — and this outdoor area and the adjoining corridor, that’s not in view, was where all of the fermentation sampling took place. Beyond that and out front was the weekend United Nations University Farmers Market which gets 15-20k visitors a day.
These folks put together enormous pot after boiling pot of imoni with lots of miso, taro, burdock and wild mushrooms. Both days of F3 were extremely windy and cold so this was a very popular soup. They would hit the soup lid as they propped it up really hard with the ladle, treating it like a giant gong, every time that the soup was ready.
Close-up of the delicious imoni.
I certainly wasn’t the only one who enjoyed it.
This warm amazake (low or no alcohol fermented rice drink) was such a treat too. No sugar or sweetener added but so naturally sweet. Another unforgettable taste from F3.
I really love that F3 was free to attend (the talks and the food sampling were free and open to the public and you bought stickers for food/drink samples) and that they had these two types of reusable sake cups that you could purchase for sampling. Brilliant.
This was the only cured meat at F3 and it was yummy.
Did you know that Japan has a Miss Sake? They do! This is her — Mai Morita. She travels the world as an ambassador of Japanese sake. Love it. A lot of the organizers and VIP participants wore these white F3 lab suits. So stylish and fun.
Bird’s eye view of the main outdoor corridor of F3.
The Saturday F3 workshop that Luuvu Hoang, Etsuyo Okajima and I did at nearby Midori. Luu did a demo. on fermented Vietnamese food, I spoke about Portland and the Portland Fermentation Festival and we all hung out together for three hours learning things and eating yummy things. It was awesome.
This sign for it made me happy.
Afterward Luuvu and I walked over to the F3 food/drink area and got Shinobu’s awesome ramen made with Yusuke’s katsuobushi. The stuff of dreams.
Yusuke Sezaki (one of my favorite people that I met in Tokyo) of the legendary Kaneshichi — maker of katsuobushi. Yusuke is who Rene Redzepi travels to in order to learn about katsuobushi. Redzepi is currently experimenting with making bear and venison katsuobushi. Yusuke is helping him.
On day two of F3 I got to speak with Yusuke for awhile (thanks to Etsuyo who translated). I ended up leaving with his handmade kezuriki (katsuobushi grater box) and two of his perfectly paired katsuobushi that are smoked, sun dried and fermented for months. I gave him a copy of my book, some Bee Local honey and I invited him to the Portland Fermentation Festival. I hope that he comes! So lucky that I got to meet Yusuke.
The perfectly coupled katsuobushi that Yusuke gave me. (He also hid a third in the bag.) In Japan when couples marry a traditional parting gift for good fortune is this — a “male” and “female” katsuobushi — pieces that fit perfectly together. It’s rare and brings good luck.
I really wanted to do this 50-minute sake tasting but we were too social to make it happen. We wanted to walk around and talk to everyone. Next time.
They had an F3 DJ!! He played Roy Ayers’ Everybody Loves the Sunshine and during it the sun came out. It had been cloudy for a bit. So cool.
All of the signage and graphics for the festival were striking.
Super cool festival poster front…
A box of F3 images. It’s astounding how well designed every little detail was at the forum.
Etusyo Okajima (moderator), Mai Oyama (translator) and me before my F3 talk.
Right before my talk was one with super hip DJ Misoshiru and Seiichiro Tsuji, a specialist of Japanese fermented foods from 6,000 years ago during Japan’s Jomon period. This sort of program coupling gives you just a bit of an idea of what a diverse feed the mind and feed the belly festival F3 was.
Sandor’s book on display on the table outside of the main hall!!
I got to meet Kantaro Oizumi and sample his kombucha which was inspired by trips to Portland after our Portland Fermentation Festival! Kentaro will be launching his Japanese kombucha later this month at Kombuchakon in Long Beach, CA. It’s really, really good stuff.
Kurosaki-san, Etsuyo, Mai and I trying Kentaro’s kombucha before my talk.
I had such a great time talking about the Portland Fermentation Festival and Portland food/drink at F3. We all sat on bean bags in the middle of the room and while Mai translated someone was also typing up what I said in characters that were projected on large screens. So well organized for year one. Really fun talk. There’s a link above in the main body of the post if you want to listen to it on Soundcloud.
Left to right: Mai’s mom (I forget her name!), Mai, Etsuyo and me after the talk. All bundled up and ready to hit the fest food/drink area again.
First stop, hot sake! Just what the Dr. ordered.
The long line to get into F3 never let up on either day. So cool.
I got to meet my Portland friends’ — Earnest and Yuri Migaki, makers of Jorinji Miso — friend! Kousaku Hotta of Salmon & Trout with his super mackerel sandwich.
I didn’t get to try these but they looked awesome.
This realllllly young sake (day two of fermentation) was so good. It reminded Etsuyo of the strawberry in mochi (ichigo daifuku) that she had at our kaiseki dinner at Higashiya Ginza the night before.
More really yummy sake — this time from Heiw Shuzou where one of Etsuyo’s friends brews. So cold outside!!!
Sake lees aka kasu from one of the sake brewery’s. It’s used to make amazake and sometimes miso. It’s also traditionally used as face paint. I didn’t try any and I wish I’d gotten a bag to bring home.
Aaaaand that’s a wrap. Thank you F3 and Kurosaki-san and everyone who helped put F3 together and attended. What a dream.
I was lucky enough to get to spend a lot of time during my visit to Tokyo with this the man — the man who made it all happen. He got me to Tokyo and took care of everything. F3 founder and one of my heroes — Teruo Kurosaki. I can’t thank him enough. Long live Kurosaki-san and long live F3!
Thank you for reading this. Now go figure out how you can visit Tokyo soon!!