by Cornelia Reiher
The first few weeks of the semester are already over and summer is just around the corner in Berlin. Students have been thinking about their semester projects and came up with first ideas. One group will study the role of restaurant certification on chefs’ everyday practices in Japanese restaurants and the other will compare rāmen in Tokyo and Berlin, as one of the students joins us online from Tokyo. In the meantime, students have conducted interviews with students from Seikei University and I am preparing field trips and have been on the lookout for interview partners for our course.
That’s one of the reasons I visited the „Japanese Market“ (Japanmarkt) in Berlin this weekend. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon when I joined crowds of people of all ages to check out the food stalls, the stage program and the various other stalls selling handicrafts, pop culture and other Japanese things. There was a wide variety of food and drink on offer, ranging from sweets like taiyaki to savory street food like takoyaki. In addition to sake tastings, there were also workshops and demonstrations showcasing taiko, shodō and kendō. Even many of the craft and design products on display were inspired by Japanese food and drink.
It was very interesting to see how many different Japanese foods were sold and – judging from the long lines in front of each stall – how popular they were. I discovered stalls of some new Japanese restaurants and was happy to meet old friends from Japanese restaurants selling curry rice or onigiri at the market. I also discovered new vegan onigiri varieties with vegan „meatless“ yakiniku and had the opportunity to buy nihonshu to take home. With the sound of taiko drums in my ears, the smell of yakitori in my nose and the sight of happy people and beautiful weather, I left the market in a good mood, but still with a little longing for Japan. It was a very exciting event that once again showed the great popularity of Japanese culture and especially Japanese food in Berlin.