• Feature

Promoting the Japanese Traditional Food “Tofu” to the Whole World

  • delicious Japan
  • May 2022
  • Vol. 14
The number of tofu shops in Japan peaked in 1960 at 50,000, but now there are only 5,304 of them. We followed Mr. Isogai, who is constantly busy spreading the “Tofu Meister” program as a way to leave tofu, Japan’s traditional food, to the children of the future.

Takeshige Isogai
Tofu Project Japan, Inc.

Working on “Tofu Meister”

I am working to revitalize the tofu industry. “Tofu Meister” is part of that effort. We have made a qualification system for tofu for general consumers, and we are expanding it in Japan and overseas. There are now 4,404 people who have taken the Tofu Meister qualification. We have organized courses in Hawaii, Paris, Rome, Brussels, Hong Kong, South Korea, Shenzhen, and elsewhere.

The background to the program

The background is that the number of tofu makers in Japan has fallen a long way. There used to be around 50,000 nationwide, which is roughly the same as the number of convenience stores today. By now, that has fallen to 5,304, around one tenth. I started from a sense of crisis that, if it goes on like this, tofu, part of Japan’s culinary culture, would be lost. I established the “Tofu Meister Certification System” as a dietary education qualification, to enable dietary education activities using tofu.

Outreach to younger generations

In partnership with the 100 Soybeans Campaign Support Group, an NPO, we are implementing a program in agricultural high schools nationwide for students to learn to grow soybeans, and then make tofu from the beans they grew. We have also opened Junior Tofu Meister classes to convey knowledge of soybeans and the appeal of tofu to younger generations.

The abura-age (deep-fried tofu) course

This March, we released the Dietary Abura-age Meister Certification Course. Abura-age, alongside tofu, is part of Japanese culinary culture, but before now, there was never a course for studying it. Many people don’t know how to make it.
People living overseas can’t get abura-age, so I’ve had some asking about how to make it where they live. I made the Dietary Abura-age Meister Certification Course to meet that kind of need. Fresh-fried abura-age is wonderful. In future, I want to spread knowledge of abura-age as well as tofu, around Japan and overseas.