Culture, No.9  Jan. 29, 2012


Somehow, my mother and I have shared a life of working on food.

My mother was innately a cook; and even more, she was an expert at raising children.

I lived with my mother for almost 52 years without ever questioning the taste of her food. She had prepared food for me until the evening before she died, telling me, “Don’t tell me I should rest. Have some rice with katsuo (bonito) sashimi.”

People will always eat food that shapes their life. This warms the hands and feet. It colors the cheeks. It motivates. It is such physical responses that accumulate like layers of thin paper on which people seek dependence. This accumulated dependence eventually redirects to a will to believe in something or someone. From the garden of faith grows hope, and the process has naturally developed the soil for love.

We cannot separate faith, hope and love because they are the entirety of life. But I cannot help believe that they originate from faith. And I believe it is in around the same area where we can find the reasons why people have to eat food that shapes their life.

Life’s goal is for the biological human to become a person comprised of faith, hope and love. There are many conditions for a human to become a person, but food is strictly one of those that we cannot possibly be without.

It must have taken my mother and me to put this conviction into words.

By some turn of fate, this magazine took interest in my involvement in the subject of food and life, and in additional response to the younger generation’s increasing interest in the Bible, the publisher Bungeishuju Ltd. asked me to delve into food-related scenes in the Bible, particularly into the ultimate love embodied in the bread and wine scene of the Last Supper. I believe it is extremely rare for a general magazine to squarely face this sacred ritual.

Since this topic was about discussing the real-life experience of food in terms of one’s view of life, I felt the need to obtain a supporting foundation from experiences in and academic knowledge of other fields. The four experts I turned to offered their sincere support.

Mr. Sato Ryusuke who led the project offered his 75-year-old heart and soul, saying, “I’ve actually now studied for the third time in my life.”

I hope to deliver the passion of these experts to readers further beyond the target of this magazine. This is because a Korean woman once said to me, “The Japanese people eat in a way to merely survive each season. We eat in a way to prepare for the next season.” These words came during a casual conversation we had while laying on a stone spa at Tamagawa Onsen in Akita Prefecture, and had stuck in my mind ever since. Yet this frank comment is, in fact, an offering to you as well. Those of you in your 20s and 30s and living a single life, please know that urban lives especially should take on these words so that you can break out of your current eating styles.

I further ask our key players in politics, economics, academics, art, religion, media and various other fields to uphold a view on life and come up with their directions on food issues in light of the population increase Asia will face in the next 20-30 years. A view on life is the most greatly lacking topic in this nation.

Translated from “Shoku to Inochi — hito ga hito to narutameni,” Bungeishunju, November 2011, pp. 348-349. (Courtesy of Bungeishunju Ltd.)