Fukushima's allures promoted at Japan festival in London

27 September 2017

"London Shakunage Kai" (literally London alpine rose society), a group of Japanese nationals in Britain with links to Fukushima Prefecture, publicized the region's attractions during an annual "Japan Matsuri" festival in London on Sept. 24. The festival, held at Trafalgar Square, is designed to introduce Japanese culture and products to British people. The Fukushima group put on sale peaches and other products from the prefecture in cooperation with the prefectural government and the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations (Zen-Noh), and undertook other activities to send out information touting Fukushima as a "fruit kingdom."

London Shakunage Kai has been taking part in the festival every year to convey Fukushima's recovery and the safety of local food since the 2011 nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. This year, the group sold out a total of 200 kilograms of peaches in two hours, each priced at 3 pounds (about 450 yen). Also drawing attention were pears, apples, cucumbers, eggplants, the original Fukushima rice variety of "Ten no Tsubu" (grain from heaven), "Kitakata ramen" noodles from Igarashi Seimen Co., marron glace-like "kanroni" of young peaches from Abukuma Foods Co., and potted "shiso" Japanese basil plants grown by Kimio Kikuchi, a London Shakunage Kai member from Date city.

Motomiya, another Fukushima Prefecture city where a British-style garden is due to open in November, participated in the festival for the first time, displaying "amazake" (a sweet drink made from fermented rice) and other products. Members of the Fukushima group, wearing "happi" Japanese coats with a Motomiya logo, stressed friendship. Among the visitors were Japanese Ambassador to Britain Koji Tsuruoka and other diplomats from various countries as well as senior officials from Japanese companies, and they enjoyed tasting the fruit.

Alec Rye , an 18-year-old high school student who wrote a report on Fukushima at his school, bought peaches, saying he would like to eat them as the fruit is famous. Ophelia Dinkin , 20, purchased an "akabeko" toy in the shape of a red cow and a hair ornament, saying she wanted to show her support for Fukushima as she is planning to travel there. Yoshio Mitsuyama, head of the Fukushima group in London hailing from the Taishin district of Shirakawa city, said he was glad to see "the tastiness of Fukushima fruit spread" among visitors.

Sales at the festival totaled 7,000 pounds (about 1.05 million yen), with profits to be donated to a Fukushima prefectural government fund accepting donations for children affected by the East Japan Great Earthquake and ensuing tsunami that caused the nuclear accident.

The above information was based on reports from Mitsuyama and Ayako Kato, a London Shakunage Kai member from Shirakawa, to Fukushima-Minpo Co., publisher of a namesake vernacular daily.

■Motomiya's British-style garden showcased by ex-MP

Victoria Borwick, a former Member of Parliament from London, spoke at an opening ceremony for the festival. She is scheduled to attend a ceremony launching the British-style garden in Motomiya set for Nov. 4.

She introduced the garden and said it will bridge exchanges between Britain and Japan, describing it as a wonderful affair. She is scheduled to visit Fukushima as a British representative carrying with her a letter from Prime Minister Theresa May.

(Translated by Kyodo News)