Written by Faith Ong (Mie-ken, 2013-2014)
One of the highlights of the year was the Oishii Japan 2014 Food Fair. On 24 October, JETAA members embarked on their first ‘out of the classroom’ experience where our Japanese skills were put to the test in our first-hand interactions with members from CLAIR Singapore and store vendors from the various prefectures in Japan.
The Oishii Japan Food Fair was such a wonderful showcase of food, drinks and related equipment and machinery from all over Japan. The showcase was first opened to business owners in the F&B line for two days before finally opening its doors to the public for us to gain some precious insight on the possible offerings we could look forward to in Singapore in the years to come.
As JETAA members, we studiously pored over the layout map and information booklet that were given to us to check out if the prefecture we had been placed in as JETs were represented at the fair and we were certainly not disappointed. From the various potteries from Ishikawa, delectable Hida beef from Gifu, sweets from Kyoto to fresh dried bonito shavings from Tokyo, the fair clearly had something for everyone and anyone. It was indeed not for the faint-hearted as we worked our way with much gusto to check out what each stall had to offer.
Of course, each of us soon had the chance to practice our Japanese when we had to ask questions to the various vendors regarding the item they were trying to market and of course, our listening skills were tested when the owners introduced their products in Japanese. In fact the entire fair was reminiscent of a typical matsuri in Japan, filled with much laughter, excitement and food!
Towards the end of the fair, a vendor from Aomori prefecture soon started to give away their leftover seafood items for the day for free through a game of janken. The stars must have shone very graciously on Pei Hoon, Kai Le and I as all 3 of us who took part in the game were indeed so privileged and lucky to be able to bring home some fresh squid that day.
As the day drew to a close and each JETAA member shared their reflections of the day and a memorable stall that they fancied with one another, it seemed poignant to note that each of us had a different stall that resonated with us and made our few hours at the fair indeed a memorable afternoon where like-minded people who once embarked on the same path as an ALT could enjoy one another’s company, speak Japanese and allow nostalgia and our tender memories of Japan linger a little longer that Saturday afternoon.