The VINE Blog

The Japan Food Innovation Tour 2023: A Culinary and Innovation Journey through Japan

by | March 28, 2023

From March 6 to 11, GlobalSF organized the Japan Food Innovation Tour 2023, bringing together a diverse group of food entrepreneurs, investors, scientists, chefs, and other delegates eager to collaborate with Japanese partners and fermentation/food-tech specialists in Kyoto and Tokyo. The VINE, a California’s leading innovation network for the food and agriculture industry, was honored to participate in this fruitful event that showcased the best of Japanese culinary culture and food innovation.

The 6-day tour kicked off in Kyoto with a welcome gathering featuring Deputy Governor Yamashita-san and Chef Yoshihiro Murata of Kikunoi, followed by a visit to Lake Biwa to explore New Kohoku Cuisine. Then, the tour moved to Tokyo, where delegates attended Foodex Japan, met with the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, and visited the Future Food Institute. Delegates also had the opportunity to visit AgVenture Lab and explore Tokyo before attending a dinner reception with the U.S. Japan Council.

Throughout the tour, delegates savored a wide range of exquisite gastronomy, such as 400-year-old fermented funazushi at Sower, koji-brewed sake at Kitchen Suiba, and dinners featuring fermented ingredients by award-winning chefs Stuart Brioza and Tanya Holland at Katy Cole’s Locale and Tokyo Food Lab, respectively. The tour also included presentations and networking opportunities with Japanese partners at various programs, such as Future Food Systems with Geodesic Capital, the Future Food Institute, and Pasona N A, Inc.

A standout event was Gabe Youtsey’s keynote address at Geodesic Capital, reflecting the spirit of partnership that defined the entire Japan Food Innovation Tour. During his speech, Youtsey emphasized the importance of collaboration between Japan and California in the field of food innovation, stating that “as we navigate the brave new world of food innovation, Japan and California are better together.” Youtsey noted that California and Japan have much in common, including their size and shape, their strong technology sectors, and their commitment to agriculture. He also stressed that the challenges facing the food industry, such as climate change-induced drought and declining food security, require a joint effort from the two regions.

Youtsey’s keynote provided an inspiring call to action, encouraging delegates to work together to create a better future for the food industry. “By driving food innovation together, Japan and California can chart the future of food, and move us from a place of declining food security and sustainability to one of abundance and regeneration,” he said. “To collaborate more effectively, the University of California launched a new initiative called the VINE. Our aim is to build the world’s most important agrifood technology innovation ecosystem rivaling the success of the Silicon Valley from California’s food-producing regions.”

The tour provided a unique opportunity to explore Japanese culinary culture, learn about their approach to food innovation, and network with industry leaders from both countries. We look forward to seeing the impact of this tour on the food and agriculture industry and the future of partnerships between California and Japan-based companies.