On Sunday, October 29, International Affairs hosted a cultural event for currently enrolled Japanese and exchange students. Students were given the opportunity to visit Okazaki City, which is known for its rich cultural history and beautiful scenery.
The first stop of the day was Matcha Museum Wakuwaku located in Nishio, right next to Okazaki. Here we got to learn about Japan’s famous matcha tea, including the manufacturing process and health benefits, and even had the chance to see the grinding process of the tea leaves in person.
Matcha is made from tea leaves that are grown in the shade, which triggers the growth of leaves with better flavour and texture. The leaves are then hand-picked, steamed to halt fermentation, dried, and aged in cold storage. The dried leaves are then stone-ground into a fine powder.
After our tour, many students went to purchase matcha-related products from the museum’s store, including matcha ice cream, tea sets, and matcha powder itself.
The next stop on our tour was Okazaki Castle. Okazaki Castle was originally built in 1455, and is best known as the birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate.
The castle grounds were bustling with visitors, with many events and attractions being held. After some exploration, we all made our way to the castle entrance while taking lots of photos along the way. Upon entering, we were met with a fantastic display of information about the castle and the history of its construction, etc. Each floor had a different theme, with lots of different interactive displays for visitors to learn about the castle.
Maruya Hacho Miso
Our last stop was Maruya Hacho Miso, a famous manufacturer of miso paste. Hacho miso is a variety of Japanese miso paste that is made entirely from fermented soybeans, without any rice or barley added. This gives it a stronger, more pungent flavor and a thicker, darker consistency compared to other types of miso paste.
We were met by the president of the company, Mr. Shintaro Asai, who kindly greeted us and showed us around. Mr. Asai guided us through the manufacturing process of hacho miso, which takes approximately two years to complete. Students were also given the opportunity to sample some miso products, including dried miso sprinkled on top of ice cream. Everyone appreciated Mr. Asai’s hospitality, and many students went on to purchase a number of miso-related products from the store.
Overall, the day proved to be a fun and educational experience for everyone. International Affairs plans on hosting a number of other cultural events this semester and beyond.