Japanese share their love for Sarawak through food


A local Japanese participant trying out the famous Sarawak laksa.

More than 40 participants came to the Sarawak Cuisine Sharing Session in Tokyo.

MIRI: The love for Sarawak has once again been proven to transcend boundary as 46 Sarawak-loving Japanese nationals gathered at a Malaysian restaurant for a Sarawak cuisine sharing session in Tokyo recently.

The event was jointly organised by Malaysia Gohan Kai, Malaysia Cuisine Restaurant, and Midin Events Company which also sponsored cooking ingredients for the authentic Sarawak cuisine. Sarawak Tourism Board also played their part by providing door gifts.

A speaker for the sharing session, Oto Furukawa, said the response received from similar sharing sessions on other Malaysian cuisines previously were encouraging, attracting about a dozen participants.

“However, the Sarawak cuisine sharing session had an overwhelming response with the number of attendees quadrupled, hence setting a new height for the food sharing project,” she said.

With the help from STB, Oto was also introduced to Mitsumasa Hamano, Hikaru Yokoyama, Mika Yonaha and Yuta Nitanai — participants of a student exchange programme from Japan who had their internship in Sarawak.

Recorded clips of their personal experience in Kuching savouring Sarawak’s delectable food were shown to the local Japanese participants. The videos let the participants relive the sights and sounds of a typical Sarawakian kopitiam (traditional coffee shop).

Another speaker, Jun Tanaka, revealed that he had visited Sarawak nearly 10 times.

“Being introduced by a Sarawakian friend, I went to Kuching years back, and it was love at first bite. I am head over heels over all the unique Sarawakian palettes, especially the Sarawak Laksa.

“I also enjoy the warm and welcoming Sarawakian people, and I am absolutely in love with Sarawak itself,” said Jun.

Jun’s passion and love for Sarawak drove him to promote Sarawak and its food voluntarily on social media daily.

He had also published a limited edition Sarawak cuisine booklet on his own.

Other participants were glad to have received a copy of the booklet at the event.

Jun had also worked with STB and the Japanese interns of STB in maintaining information on Sarawak for Japanese Facebook page.

“Our mission is to provide information for the general Japanese people on Sarawak, all without any expectation of returns from anyone,” he added.

At the event, Hikaru, who had an eight-month internship at a local travel agency in Kuching, performed and demonstrated the art of sape playing to the audience, adding a uniquely authentic Sarawakian ambiance to the event.

To spice things up, ‘tuak’ (rice wine) was served.

It was brought to the event by Oto who had recently visited Sarawak.

Sarawakian specialties including Sarawak Laksa, three-layer tea and Sarawak pepper were also introduced at the event.

Japanese sape player Hikaru Yokoyama learnt to play sape while working as an intern in Kuching for eight months at a local travel agency.