What, I wondered, have the people at Slow Food Japan to worry about? Surely their food is fresh and locally produced? Unlike in Britain, supermarkets in Japan aren’t monolithic monsters and they aren’t packed with processed adulterated foods; in fact up to a third of the total space will be devoted to fresh fish. What worries the Japanese, it seems, is that they’ve seen what’s happened in Britain and America and it scares them stiff. Slow Food is big in Japan. I’m given a glimpse of their enthusiasm at an event in Koenji, a suburb of Tokyo, where they installed a temporary outdoor market to promote food from the tsunami stricken area of Fukushima. Their mission is to persuade the people of Tokyo that the food from Fukushima is good and safe to eat and that they should support their farmers. What’s impressive to me is that, unlike in England, where Slow Food supporters tend to be middle-aged or more, who are intent on turning the clocks back, here, the stalls are manned by young enthusiasts.
The organiser, the indefatigable Toshiya Sasaki, took me for lunch to a traditional sushi restaurant a few streets away from the event. On the way there we passed a McDonalds, a KFC and, to my amazement, a Tesco Express. These young enthusiasts have a fight on their hands.