In recent years, the concept of well-being has attracted attention in numerous fields. We believe that this term that expresses a physically, mentally, and socially sound condition will be an increasingly important keyword in the creation of better living. As well-being is closely tied to the field of foods in which we are deeply involved, we will continue exploring what we can contribute in this area. As a company originating in Japan, one possibility for us is to communicate Japan's unique food culture to enrich the foods of the world. Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries states that washoku, or Japanese cuisine, is not merely a type of cuisine but is a vital culture with an emphasis on respect for nature, passed down since ancient times to shape the Japanese diet. While the term “well-being” has long been used around the world, we can find many similarities between well-being and Japanese food as we unravel the appeal of washoku. Such similarities include a spirit of respecting nature and a dietary style that embraces balanced nutrition. We will continue contributing to the enrichment of foods through taking a cue from the approach of washoku and other means.
Washoku, or Japanese cuisine
Washoku is Japan's traditional food culture. Following the registration of washoku as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2013, words such as "dashi" and "umami" have come to be known worldwide along with already known Japanese dishes. This means that the Japanese spirit hidden in washoku is becoming more widely recognized as it spreads.
Washoku has the following three characteristics.
- Fresh and diverse seasonal ingredients, and tastes that best highlight these ingredients
- Good nutritional balance incorporating seasonal ingredients, centered on the concept of one soup and three dishes
- Delicate and seasonally inspired beautiful presentation that emphasize the shapes and colors of ingredients
The appeal of washoku
Washoku values in-season taste and seasonal events, combining locally-sourced fishes, vegetables, wild vegetables, berries, nuts, and other fresh ingredients. This approach stems from Japan's four seasons, each of which offers a variety of food ingredients. For light tastes such as fish and vegetables, dashi soup stock and fermented seasonings are used to maximally draw out the umami of ingredients. Washoku is said to allow enjoyment of ingredients' innate natural and delicate flavor, and to aid in longevity and prevention of obesity.
The depth of aroma and flavor in washoku
The characteristic features of washoku are the sweetness of rice, the savoriness and saltiness of fish and soup stock, the sweetness of vegetables, and slightly aromatic complex flavor based on savoriness and bitterness. As individual ingredients often lack sharp characteristics, flavors are used in overlapping ways to create a deeper flavor. The many seasonings that complement dishes also add further appeal. These include the richly varied flavors of green onion, ginger, shiso herb, wasabi, Japanese pepper, shichimi pepper, and yuzu and kabosu citrus fruits. It is well known that even a single seasoning not only enlivens flavor through its rich aroma but also boosts appetite, digestion, and absorption of nutrients. This balancing of taste and health is the essence of washoku. Takasago will communicate the appeal of washoku as well as provide deep aromas and flavors, along with more authentic and natural deliciousness, through combining our technologies with washoku, its diverse ingredients, and wisdoms in cooking.
Brand development with washoku as the starting point
Shojin® is a comprehensive brand that pursues enhanced flavor and deep deliciousness through a fusion of Takasago's scientific perspective with culinary wisdom from ancient times. The proliferation of plant-based foods has accelerated worldwide in recent years. The origin of Shojin® lies in traditional Japanese vegetarian cuisine handed down from long ago. This diet's concept of delicious cooking without reliance on animal-based ingredients is our starting point for the brand.
"Natural" has become an indispensable component of a fulfilling lifestyle. It has also become an established product concept within a number of categories and is increasingly attracting attention in foods category. According to a nine-country consumer survey by Takasago, the product concept that consumers seek most in purchases is natural, followed by healthy. We aim to create natural and appealing flavors that consumers demand while also building mechanisms for coexistence with the environment.
Initiatives related to "natural"
Through our collective proprietary technologies, we develop flavors composed of natural ingredients under the concept of “Learn from Nature” and offer natural flavors and natural labeling in foods and beverages which have become global trends.
A new global site for natural ingredients
Centre Ingredient Technology
In the creation of natural flavors, Takasago places importance on securing natural raw materials, developing technologies that utilize natural ingredients, and in-house production. Takasago Food Products in Iwata, Shizuoka Prefecture has been serving as our primary site for supplying natural materials. Now, Centre Ingredient Technology, a company that conforms with the Kosher requirements that are a prerequisite for global supply, have joined our Group to meet customer needs on a global scale. Centre Ingredient Technology possesses development and production facilities along with unique production know-how suited to flavor ingredients. Fusing these strengths with Takasago's technologies has allowed us unparalleled productivity and supply of high quality natural ingredients.