When a Japanese person thinks of Italy, the first thing that usually comes to mind is Italian food.
When they think of Italian food, it is often of pasta, risotto, gnocchi, pizza, fresh tomatoes, basil, oregano, mozzarella cheese and of course the famous tiramisu dessert.
In recent years, Japanese people have started associating olive oil and coffee with Italy as well. In Japanese supermarkets, various types of imported Italian olive oil and coffee can be found. Lately, a lot of Italian mineral water is being imported into Japan as well.
“Itameshi” or “Italian food” has been topping the popularity charts in Japan for decades. Spaghetti has been on the menus of cafes in Japan since the 1920s. Italian pasta sauce was popularized first by Italian-Americans during the occupation, but a wider acquaintance with Italian food had to wait until the 1990s when there was a decrease in the consumption of French food which subsequently meant a rise in Italian cuisine. Italian food was seen as “friendly, cheap, and cheerful” compared to the hauteur and formality of French food.
There are now countless numbers of Italian restaurants in Japan (especially in Tokyo) that are very authentic. There are numerous Italian chefs but also a growing number of Japanese chefs who study in Italy and return after several years to bring these Italian regional flavors back to Japan. All in all, Italian food is very popular all over Japan.
But it is not just about the food.
In recent years, wine, coffee, and other Italian beverages have become popular in Japan.
The Japanese are becoming great connoisseurs of Italian wine and coffee – for example, there has been a boost in the number of wine stores, wine bars, wine events and wine-dedicated sections in shopping centers.
Various articles and studies predict there will be an increase in the Italian food market in Japan and a number of Japanese companies are keen to increase this business and import new Italian ingredients.
ACCI Gusto, the only trade fair specializing in the Italian agro-food sector in Japan (taking place in Tokyo on November 15-16), is an opportunity for businesses and individuals in the Italian food sector to meet and network. The fair aims to promote the success of products in a new marketplace and to satisfy the increasing demand of the Japanese market for high-quality Italian food.
ICCJ participates in ACCI Gusto every year, supporting both Italian companies who are encountering the Japanese market for the first time and Japanese buyers interested in creating or expanding their network of Italian products.