LOS ANGELES – It’s a well-known fact that Japan has a proud, long-standing food heritage. Painting a picture of the Japanese food culture for an audience overseas are a handful of expatriates who divulge their appreciation for Japanese dishes through Web logs, or blogs.
It’s an Internet community of untrained cooks, amateur writers and genuinely passionate food lovers, and it has attracted the attention of readers from around the world.
Amy Nakazawa, blogger for “Blue Lotus” (bluemoon.typepad.com/bluelotus/), writes from her home in suburban Tokyo.
Born in Canada, she came to Japan with the intention of earning money to jump-start a trip through Asia.
Within weeks of her arrival, however, Nakazawa, 34, says she fell in love with both Japan and her future husband, a Japanese national.
In her blog, Nakazawa chronicles noteworthy trips to eating establishments as well as her experiences in the kitchen, posting recipes, advice and cooking techniques as well as mouthwatering pictures of her various dishes. She sees her blog, which gets the majority of its hits from North America and Japan, as an opportunity to educate.
While sushi rolls are slowly becoming mainstream in her native Canada, she still finds people who are either intimidated by the cuisine or unable to distinguish it from other Asian foods.
“A lot of people who’ve seen my blog are amazed that I can cook Japanese food,” she said, adding, “I get a lot of input from comments, and when blogging about a new food I tend to do a lot of research to make sure my post is accurate.”
Kat Nishida, who writes “Our Adventures in Japan” (katnsatoshiinjapan.blogspot.com/), is a thirtysomething Japanese-American from Honolulu. She has lived in Osaka for the past six years and started writing about Japanese food as a way to get closer to her roots.
Since starting the blog in 2005, her site has attracted people from places as far afield as Dubai and Iceland.
She says she gets anywhere from 200 to 300 hits daily and sees her blog as a tool for presenting Japanese culture to other people.
“I have the opportunity to share my experiences, both good and bad, in the kitchen as well as my experiences while traveling around Japan,” she explained. “This blog has given me the opportunity to look deeper into how the food is prepared, research any folklore or special meanings that the dish may have and pass it on to my readers.”
The blogs tend to spark dialogue between readers and writers from countries all over the world.
Nishida said she has met with fellow food bloggers in Osaka, given advice to readers interested in traveling through Japan and even exchanged care packages with people from abroad.
Certainly not a new phenomenon, blogging has quite an established community in cyberspace. Both “Our Adventures in Japan” and “Blue Lotus” have links to dozens of other food-related sites by expats in Japan and even Japanese bloggers writing in English.
Food as both a basic necessity and a luxury can be a connecting force between cultures. As Nishida observes, “A lot of communication happens while sharing a meal.” Using the Net to “share a meal,” these expats have found a way to bring some of the most delicious aspects of Japan to light.