Teaching Japanese-Style Fish PreparationOne-day event for non-Japanese students at Hattori Nutrition College Part of The Nippon Foundation’s Umi-to-Nippon Project (The Ocean and Japan Project)

Using Japanese-style fish preparation as a way to deepen understanding of Japan’s maritime culture, The Nippon Foundation held a joint one-day fish preparation course with the Hattori Nutrition College in Tokyo as part of The Nippon Foundation’s Umi-to-Nippon Project (The Ocean and Japan Project). Six non-Japanese students participated and learned how to prepare fish “the Japanese way.”

Tatsuo Nishizawa (left), an instructor of Japanese cuisine at Hattori Nutrition College, guides Chris Gadsby (right) from Australia in how to prepare ‘tai’ (Japanese sea bream) for cooking
Brian Kemper (left) from the United States learns how to split open the head of a tai

The Umi-to-Nippon Project (The Ocean and Japan Project) is a nationwide effort being carried out by The Nippon Foundation, the Cabinet Office’s Headquarters for Ocean Policy, and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, to make Japanese people aware of the critical state of the world’s oceans, which support all of us, and especially to deepen the next generation’s understanding of and interest in the ocean.

The project designated five activity themes for 2017 to create specific opportunities for people to “interact” individually with the ocean: Learn about the ocean; Make the ocean beautiful; Appreciate the ocean; Experience the ocean; and Express the ocean. Grant programs under these themes are being carried out nationwide.

This course falls under the theme “Appreciate the ocean,” and in addition to the course being held at Hattori Nutrition College, similar courses are being held with the cooperation of cooking schools and television stations at 39 locations around Japan from July through December.

Tatsuo Nishizawa (right) gives preliminary instructions to the participants

Hattori Nutrition College has released a series of roughly 100 instructional videos on YouTube showing how to prepare and cook about 80 types of fish, as well as how to care for knives, under the technical supervision of Tatsuo Nishizawa, an instructor of Japanese cooking at the school. In addition to teaching people how to prepare fish for cooking, these videos seek to introduce the techniques involved and demonstrate their value to the rest of the world, as a way of encouraging people to participate in activities to preserve the marine environment.

This was the eighth seminar on fish preparation that Hattori Nutritional College has held since August, and the final session for the year. Capacity was for 20 people, and the participants included six non-Japanese persons currently residing in Japan: two from Australia, and one each from the United States, Germany, China, and Taiwan. The subject for the day’s seminar was tai (Japanese sea bream), which is considered a premium type of fish in Japan. Under Mr. Nishizawa’s direction, staff demonstrated how to wash the fish, remove the scales, and fillet the fish, and also how to use the fish as a base to prepare rice in a traditional clay pot, as well as soup and dashimaki-tamago Japanese-style omelets. The students then tried to prepare and cook fish themselves, but discovered it was not as easy as it looked. Nevertheless, the final verdict was that the dishes were “delicious.”

Marei Mentlein (center) from Germany tries her hand at ‘dashimaki-tamago’
Group photo of the participants

One of the participants, Marei Mentlein, said that she grew up in northern Germany near the ocean, but people did not generally eat fish in that area, and that she had never prepared fish and had probably never even cooked fish. That made the day a new and interesting experience, and she was glad she participated. She commented “The knife was difficult to handle. Even though the instructor made it look easy, at first I couldn’t do it at all. I’ll need to practice some more. The dashimaki-tamago was interesting. I make my own kinds of omelets at home, but this was my first time to use a rectangular frying pan. Now that I’ve been taught by a professional, I want to buy one for myself. I love eggs, so I want to make this at home.”


Communications Department
The Nippon Foundation