Session ⁄ Event

05 Tsuruoka City

Session Information

Date and
December 9th, 2023 (Saturday) 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Tsuruoka Culinary Culture Market FOODEVER
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This event has ended.
You can watch an archived video of this event.
Attendance is free
There will be a free tasting of Tsuruoka’s famous "Shonou Udon" noodles and award-winning dishes from the Next Generation Gastronomy Competition!
つるおか食文化市場 FOODEVER

Event Report

area session
area session

As expected from the UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, the Tsuruoka venue for the 2023 Yamagata Youth Summit offered culinary tastings of local cuisine, such as udon and other traditional dishes prepared by young chefs and high school students.

The fourth and final area session of "YAMAGATA Youth Summit 2023" was held on December 9th at the Tsuruoka Food Culture Market FOODEVER in Tsuruoka City. In December 2014, Tsuruoka City was the first city in Japan to be recognized as a member of UNESCO's "Creative Cities Network" as a Creative City of Gastronomy. Styles of cooking such as "Shojin ryori,'' also known as the "cuisine of the devotee," have been passed down by the Yamabushi monks training on the Dewa Sanzan for over 1,400 years. Other traditional foods of Tsuruoka that have been passed down the generations have a number of diverse origins such as performing arts such as Noh, festivals, and the unique agricultural climate of Tsuruoka. Tsuruoka's unique food culture, which is tied to the spiritual culture of Tsuruoka's natural features, remains strongly intact and includes more than 60 types of native crops whose seeds have been preserved by farmers for hundreds of years, untainted by outside contaminants.

The session titled "Sharing Shonai's Cuisine: Tsuruoka's Internationally Acclaimed Culinary Culture"' was attended by Daisuke Igarashi, the 18th-generation farmer of Kinzaburo and regional advisor who grows Shonai persimmons and other native crops, as well as YouTubers, foreigners, and many members of the general public. Young chefs who are active in the local area, students from agricultural high schools, and other young minds showed up to discuss ways that Shonai's culinary culture can be shared with the world. Discussions were held around the themes of "What does Tsuruoka food mean to locals?'' "How do people from other countries view Tsuruoka food?'' and "How can we spread the word about Tsuruoka food?''

Since the theme of this session was "food," the Tsuruoka venue also had sample tastings of local cuisine available. A plate of traditional Japanese food that won the Grand Prix at the 3rd Next Generation Gastronomy Competition and "Phantom Udon'' made by students from Shonai Agricultural High School were served, much to the enjoyment of attendees. A Japanese chef who sampled the high school students' udon was quite impressed, exclaiming, "It's delicious!'' followed by, "I want to make a delicious soup stock that goes well with this udon!" Here, at this event, perhaps an unexpected collaboration has been born, leading us to consider the many possibilities for exchange that lie in the future.

Daisuke Igarashi

Advisor Daisuke Igarashi holds his own dinner parties to show off the quality of Shonai persimmons and other Tsuruoka ingredients. "It is important to disseminate information, but we often see examples of important details being left out. For that reason, being thorough is necessary."

Laszlo Zsanett

Laszlo Zsanett from Hungary said "For people overseas, slash-and-burn cultivation may be perceived as 'environmental destruction.' It's important to correctly convey the reasons we do these things and their stories."

Maco Shibuya

Mr. Shibuya, who also disseminates information about his hometown of Tsuruoka, advises, "By collaborating not only with people in the food industry, but also with people in other industries, we can deliver information to targets that have not been reached before.''

Kana Sugamoto

"Yamagata Prefecture is a wonderful place with a rich food culture that is faithful to the four seasons. While the landscape of the region is becoming more uniform, an increasing number of people are attracted to places that retain their local characteristics, making them one of a kind,'' says Kana Sugamoto.

Nagisa Sato

Nagisa Sato said, "Food culture is born from emotional connections between people. It is the chef's job to pass the culinary baton from producers to the next.''

Kaede Igarashi, Kana Igarashi, Sora Takahashi

(From left) Kaede Igarashi, Kana Igarashi, and Sora Takahashi are involved in the Shonou Udon Daisakusen at Shonai Agricultural High School. "Even among local high school students, not many people know about native crops. I wish I had the opportunity to learn about them in depth."


The thoughts of local people, the ideas of young people, outside perspectives, and the ideas of the presenters. These all are the voices that reverberate throughout Tsuruoka, and during this event,a discussion that opened up new possibilities for Tsuruoka's food represents a hopeful pathway for the region's future.

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Regional Forum Area Session

Sharing Shonai's Cuisine
~Tsuruoka's Internationally Acclaimed Culinary Culture~


  • Daisuke Igarashi
    Kinzaburo 18th Generation Farmer / Shonai Persimmon Native Crop Farmer

    Daisuke Igarashi

    Born in 1978, Daisuke Igarashi is the 18th generation of a farming family with a history spanning nearly 400 years. After a decade of experience in the service industry, he embarked on a journey into agriculture. While doing farmwork, he underwent training at an agricultural university and was part of the inaugural "Oshaberi na Hatake" (Chatterbox Field) class at Yamagata University's Faculty of Agriculture, a course aimed at raising crops native to the region. Igarashi has been engaged in farming for 12 years, primarily focusing on Shonai Persimmons. While small-scale, his farming operation involves a diverse range of crops, including natural mountain vegetables, poultry farming, and other crops native to the region.
    Collaborating with local chefs, Igarashi has organized the "Orai no Kaki Kuu Kai", an event where participants can savor a full-course meal featuring Shonai Persimmons. This event has seen participation from over 30 restaurants, with a total of over 500 attendees. He has also published booklets about Shonai Persimmons, and participated in many public markets featuring the fruit - even playing a hand in establishing new markets in the region.
    In 2019, Igarashi was featured in the innovative "Tohoku Taberu Tsushin" (Eat Through Tohoku Magazine) - an informational magazine with ingredients included! 1200 copies of the magazine were distributed alongside Shonai Persimmons.
    He is also actively engaged in local activities as a member of the Asahi Regional Council in Tsuruoka City, city development committees, and the Management and Operational Planning Committee for the New Cultural Hall (currently known as Shogin Tact Tsuruoka).

  • Laszlo Zsanett
    Former Tsuruoka City Hall Food Culture International Business Promotion Officer

    Laszlo Zsanett

    Born in Hungary in 1992, during high school, Zsanett studied abroad at a high school in Sakata while staying at a local homestay in Yuza Town. During university, she further deepened her ties with Shonai through two internships at Dewa Sanzan Shrine. At the 2015 Milan International Expo, Zsanett was involved in the promotion of Tsuruoka. From 2017 to 2020, she worked as a food culture international business promotion officer at Tsuruoka City Hall, where she guided many people involved in food culture from overseas and contributed to spreading the appeal of Tsuruoka food culture both domestically and internationally.

  • Maco Shibuya
    Wheelchair Youtuber

    Maco Shibuya

    Maco Shibuya worked as a hunter in in the remote mountains of Yamagata Prefecture, while aspiring to become a thatched-roof craftsperson. However, in July 2018, Shibuya suffered a spinal cord injury due to a fall from a thatched roof while on a job, resulting in a disability that left her in a wheelchair. On her YouTube channel, she openly discusses subjects that are often treated as taboo in the context of disabilities, such as sexuality and using the toilet. Driven by her motivation to help others, she makes frequent media and event appearances, sharing her unique way of living in a wheelchair while staying true to herself. While actively involved in regenerative medicine research using stem cells, she has also engaged in discussions about the future of regenerative medicine with Shinya Yamanaka, a Nobel Prize laureate in Physiology or Medicine.
    After appearing in Toyota Times and having public conversations with Akio Toyoda, the chairman of Toyota, Shibuya is now actively involved in automobile development, showcasing her diverse range of skills and activities unhindered by her disability.

  • Kana Sugamoto
    Representative of Tabisuruomusibi / Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications Regional Strength Creation Advisor

    Kana Sugamoto

    Kana Sugamoto was born in Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture, and graduated from Kumamoto University. In 2016, she begin work at CAMPFIRE Co., Ltd. after working as the deputy editor-in-chief of "Kumamoto Tabe Tsushin". Currently, she is in charge of the LOCAL/FOOD section and supports crowdfunding projects all over the country. In addition to her main job, she launched Tabisurumusubi, the "Traveling Rice Ball Shop" in May 2017 and became independent in March 2019.
    In order to convey the joy and importance of eating, Sugamoto teaches food education classes through rice balls and covers food culture around the country. In the past, she suffered greatly from anorexia in middle and high school, even facing the brink of death at one point. However, persistence prevails and in college, she overcame her eating disorder to realize that "to eat is to live, and one of the great joys of living.'' She has even decided to publish a book and make a documentary film in 2023.

  • Shōnai Agricultural High School.Agriculture Department Food Processing Section (nicknamed the "Udon Department")
    Shōnai Agricultural High School

    Agriculture Department Food Processing Section (nicknamed the "Udon Department")

    "Shonou Udon," produced by students of Shonai Agricultural High School as part of their food processing classes, has gained popularity in the Fushijima region due to its delicious flavor and especially smooth texture. It's often referred to as the "phantom udon" - as it is not readily available for purchase and sold only on special occasions such as school festivals and local events, it is incredibly hard to get one's hands on!
    The creation of this special udon was made possible through a collaborative project between academia, industry, and the government called "Shonou Udon Daisakusen!". Initiated in 2019 to bring vibrancy to the local community, this project has entered its fifth iteration this autumn. This initiative has not only enriched students' learning experiences, but also expanded their knowledge in areas ranging from udon production to creating pamphlets, posters, and customer service.

  • 3rd Next Generation Gastronomy Competition.Finalist
    3rd Next Generation Gastronomy Competition


    The Next Generation Gastronomy Competition is a culinary competition first held in 2019 with the aim of nurturing, strengthening, and discovering young chefs.
    The 3rd edition of the competition will be held this year to welcome next year's 10th anniversary of Tsuruoka City being recognized as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. The theme for this year's competition revolves around the exploration of the potential of "local cuisine" and "native crops," which underpin the city's recognition as a Creative City of Gastronomy.

Ken Miura
Facilitator Ken Miura Brand new day Co., Ltd. Representative ⁄ Branding Producer

Born in Yamagata in 1993, after graduating from Nihon University Yamagata Senior High School, Ken Miura studied abroad at the University of Washington in the United States. After consulting for sole proprietors, he ended up working in brand strategy consultation development for corporations. Currently, he mainly works on helping small and medium-sized enterprises formulate their missions and visions in order to discover and verbalize their unique values. His services cover a wide variety of fields including websites, advertisements, new business development, and recruitment,all of which lead back to him providing a total brand strategy that instills a strong internal company philosophy reflecting their values as companies.

Naoko Inoue
Host Naoko Inoue

Born December 28, 1974, in Yonezawa City, Yamagata Prefecture, and raised in Kawanishi, Naoko Inoue is currently a proud resident of Nagai City. During her time as a student at Kunori Gakuen Girl's High School in Yonezawa, she transferred to Glendora High School in California, USA in 1991 before going on to study at California's very own Citrus College. In 1998, she returned to Japan after experiencing working at a travel agency in LA and trying her hand at the media talent industry.
Naoko has worn many hats over the years: Radio DJ, commercial narrator, lounge DJ, bilingual English and Japanese event MC, a TV reporter for YBC Yamagata Broadcasting, TUY, and SAY Sakurambo TV, magazine model (Bi Story), interpreter, and to top it all off, she is currently active as a preschool English teacher as well as performing as one of the Yamagata Maiko. In addition, she is one of the instructors of the Yamagata Prefectural Board of Education's "Learn from Professionals" program.

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