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Mana Organics in Japan

John Grams

Avantika and John in Tokyo on 3rd anniversary

Early this month, Mana Organics visited Japan to explore new opportunities for our tea and catch up with old friends. Here’s what happened:

Mana’s mission in Japan was to attend Foodex, the grocery exhibition in Japan. Exhibitors from several countries in Europe, North and South America, Asia, Australia covered 775,000 square feet of convention space to hawk their products to over 85000 attendees.

We met fantastic folks from all over the world. Many interested in our tea and social mission. We met several Japanese tea producers and had a chance to taste the various types of sencha green tea, hojicha, several confectionary items using green tea as an ingredient.

We visited booths featuring the latest innovation for the grocery sector: super-efficient refrigeration cars, hydroponic vegetable systems, farm-to-table squid, and innovative sake brewing. We tasted a plethora of gourmet gastronomy from around the world. King crab from Alaska, dates from the Middle East, fresh chips from Ireland, bottled water from Canada, exotic grains from where we can’t remember – we tasted it all at Foodex.

I especially enjoyed the prosciutto from Spain, some fantastic espresso (I can’t always drink tea), and some great octopus. Avantika loved the Belgian chocolate, and Mexican avocados.

John and Shoji Hara

John and Shoji Hara

On our second night in Tokyo, our family friend who was instrumental in helping us set up the green tea factory at Chota Tingrai, Mr. Shoji Hara, took us out to a traditional Japanese dinner. And by dinner, I mean feast of gargantuan proportions. I lost count at course seven.

About half way through her meal, Avantika asked how many courses remained in the meal. Shoji said “two more…. Maybe.” He must have said two more about another five times before poor Avantika was finished, her stomach stuffed to the point of burst.

Surprisingly, Shoji’s ten-year-old, 3’5” niece out ate us both.

Appetizers

Appetizers

After finishing Foodex, Avantika and I had a chance to explore Japan with my good friend Sean. Sean and I had met in Ireland. We shared a flat as part of study abroad program. Funnily, my earliest memory of Sean is of him offering me a cup of PG Tips.

Sean showed us all around Tokyo. From the beautiful Asakusa Temple….

Asakusa Temple Gate at night

Avantika at the Asakusa Temple Gate at night
Asakusa Temple at night
Asakusa Temple at night

To the busy Shiboya intersection….

Shiboya Crossing

Shiboya Crossing

To the famous statue of Hachikō 

Haticho, a very good boy

Hachikō, a very good boy

Avantika, Sean, and I wrapped up our trip by visiting the temple town of Nikko. Nestled in the mountains north of Tokyo, Nikko is a UNESCO site featuring wonderful scenery and fantastic Japanese architecture.

We missed the fall colors that make Nikko walks famous. However, we still enjoyed strolling the countryside along streams, Buddha statues, and Shinto shrines.

Two Irish guys in Nikko, Japan

Two Irish guys in Nikko, Japan
Shinto Temple in Nikko
Shinto Temple in Nikko

The main temple complex of Nikko features several temples from the early Edo period. The main temple is the resting place of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, which effectively ruled Japan from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

Tomb in Nikko, Japan

Temple in Nikko, Japan

Carvings in Temple in Nikko Japan

Carvings in Temple in Nikko Japan

Wandering the temples, the fantastic construction and artistry of Japanese construction awed me. The elegance and simplicity. The attention to detail without losing sight of the overall flow and vision of the structure.

Avantika and I had a fantastic time exploring Japan and look forward to returning soon.

John and Avantika in Tokyo



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