The team involved in CAMOCYincluding interviewee Mr. Kawano, CEO
(the third from the left on the top row)
In remembrance of the 10 year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, we sat down with Mr. Kawano, the CEO at Yagisawa Shoten. Yagisawa Shoten, a ninth generation, over 200 year old family-owned producer in Rikuzentakata City, Iwate Prefecture.
Yagisawa Shoten lost almost everything during the earthquake and tsunami. Since then, they have been able to rebuild their production facilities as well as a fermentation park called CAMOCY. CAMOCY houses a wide variety of shops, a bakery, brewery, kitchen, dining hall and educational center all dedicated to promoting and sharing the nuances of fermentation in a beautiful environment that brings together the local community and visitors from Japan and around the world.
Kokoro: Many foreigners from overseas don't have the opportunity to visit Tohoku. What makes Tohoku unique?
Yagisawa Shoten Mr. Kawano: Tohoku is the only region in Japan that has a food self-sufficiency rate of over 100%. The reason for this is that off the coast of Sanriku is one of the world's three largest fishing grounds which is rich in marine resources.
In addition, there are many rugged mountainous areas and rivers. The water resources gives us an abundance of high quality food that is much better than other regions in Japan. As an example, oysters from Rikuzentakata City have the highest price in Japan.
Fermented food culture using water resources has also been rooted in the region for a long time, and there are many sake breweries in the Tohoku region.
The food culture of Tohoku has developed independently from the rest of Japan, but is an attraction that is not yet known to people overseas.
Selection of food served at CAMOCY
Kokoro: How are you and your company involved in the local community? What role does food play in this?
Yagisawa Shoten Mr. Kawano:As for myself, I know more and more about the excellent local ingredients, so I am connecting with the network of producers focused on fermentation.
As for the company, we are using our own network, including that which is overseas, to share these wonderful ingredients.
Kokoro: What were the effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake on your company, the region and the community? How has the reconstruction progressed in the past 10 years?
Yagisawa Shoten Mr. Kawano:All the possessions of myself and my company were swept away by the tsunami. 99% of the community was also destroyed. After 10 years, the community has finally finished their hard work and the land has returned.
In December of last year, we opened Rikuzentakata Fermentation Park CAMOCY with other local people.
Our own headquarters and miso factory are also under construction. Our tenth year is just beginning.
Kokoro: How are external influences such as the government budget, the Olympics, and pandemic affecting the recovery?
Yagisawa Shoten Mr. Kawano:Reconstruction work has been delayed due to the Olympics and the pandemic, but we are doing the best we can in the current environment.
Kokoro: What is your vision for the future of Tohoku?
Yagisawa Shoten Mr. Kawano:Tohoku is a world-class treasure trove of resources, so I would like to be Noah's Ark to the extent that we can, while protecting this beautiful region.
One of the dishes served at CAMOCY: Salmon & ikura donburi
Another dish served at CAMOCY: Nanbu chicken steak on rice
Learn more in our PRODUCER SPOTLIGHT: Yagisawa Shoten - "Miracle" Soy Sauce and at https://yagisawa-s.jp
Photo credit: Yagisawa Shoten