KUWAIT: Japanese Ambassador to Kuwait Takaoka Masato speaks during the event. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Kuwait, the Embassy of Japan organized a washoku (Japanese cuisine) event to promote Japanese food culture in Kuwait. It was attended by owners, suppliers and representatives of Japanese restaurants in Kuwait. Speaking during the event, Japanese Ambassador to Kuwait Takaoka Masato lauded his country’s partnership with Kuwait, adding one of the connections that bind them dearly is food. “People in Kuwait and perhaps everywhere in the world, whenever we talk about food, we smile with gratitude. We want to smile back with gratitude to the people of Kuwait and to more than 100 restaurants and cafes serving Japanese cuisine,” he said.

“The popularity of Japanese food in Kuwait is quite significant; we fully appreciate their efforts and our hearts are overjoyed with all their contributions to the growing love of Japanese food in Kuwait. Many of the suppliers and business owners are Kuwaitis and they appreciate our food culture. Food helps us strengthen our ties and friendship as food is something that we always have all the time on our table,” the envoy said.

Masato said Japanese food was introduced to Kuwait in 1981. “At that time, people in Kuwait didn’t really eat outside food. We highly understand that because you have your own taste that are accustomed to it. Therefore, a lot of effort has been made to introduce our food and acceptance of our taste to the people of Kuwait,” he said. “The first Japanese restaurant in Kuwait – Kei – opened in 1981.

Japanese food must have been very remote from the taste that the Kuwaitis were used to. Of course, it must have required enormous efforts and commitment to bring good Japanese food supplies and talented people and match Japanese food to the taste of Kuwaitis. I am excited today to hear from you all the experiences, challenges and passions about Japanese food and Japanese food business,” he added.

Masato also lauded Kuwait for a well-managed effort to confront the COVID-19 pandemic. His stint as Japan’s ambassador to Kuwait began during the start of the pandemic. “It was hard for everyone, but we managed to overcome all those challenges and circumstances. We couldn’t travel, we couldn’t meet each other. I would like to congratulate Kuwait for successfully overcoming the challenge of the pandemic. The number of cases has drastically decreased and we hope it will stay low, and perhaps lead to zero cases,” he concluded.