Shigemi Kawahara

The Appeal of Tokyo for Shigemi Kawahara

Today's Tokyo appears to be "a city of the world" rather than "a city in Japan."

Unlike other Japanese cities, Tokyo is a true world city, fully on par with New York, London or Paris. Above all it's a city of subtlety. If you look at the restaurants featured in the Michelin guide, you can see that restaurants overseas are distinguished by their ingredients and culinary technique. For Tokyo, key points in evaluation are the presence of the Tsukiji market, Japanese people's tradition of attentive service, as well as subtle unique ideas in the kitchen. Many restaurants in Tokyo pay attention to details such as the layout of kitchens that are visible to customers, lighting that makes food look irresistible when it is served.

Our future task is responding more flexibly to needs of visitors from overseas.

With the Tokyo Olympics coming up in 2020, the number of tourists arriving from overseas is bound to rise. At the very least, I hope restaurants will provide menus in English, Chinese and Korean. Restaurant workers should also polish their language skills, at least conversational level skills.

Also, obviously menus have to be developed to respond to different religious and other values. In order to do so we need to make an effort to understand their points of view. Misunderstandings about meals at one's travel destination can make for humorous memories, but we can't be complacent on that account.

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DELIGHT

Shigemi Kawahara

Founder of Chikaranomoto Co., Ltd. Kawahara established Chikaranomoto in 1986, the year after he opened a shop named Hakata Ippudo. Guided by the motto “We constantly change so we will never change,” Chikaranomoto has consistently led Japan’s food-and-beverage sector as an organization that constantly creates fresh value. The company operates several restaurant chains, including Hakata Ippudo and the Gogyo chain of ramen diners. Currently Chikaranomoto is expanding overseas, with locations in cities such as New York and Singapore, as it gradually evolves into a “comprehensive flour-based-food enterprise.” The company has also opened Child Kitchen, a place where children can engage in hands-on learning about the fun of making things with flour. Chikaranomoto’s business activities are exceptionally wide-ranging.

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