The Noodle Grand Prix as a regional food industrial heritage festival: a Japanese case study
Place of Publication
The city of Tatebayashi in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, has been a historically and geographically important region for the wheat flour and soy sauce production and distribution (i.e. Nisshin Flour Milling Inc. established in 1900 and Shoda Shoyu Company established in 1873). Thanks to the above regional food industrial heritage, udon noodle production and associated businesses including udon restaurants have flourished, and thus Tatebayashi has promoted itself as ‘Udon Heartland’. However, the recent economic downturn in Japan not only resulted in a significant decline in the regional agriculture and food production industries, but also had its subsequent impact on their food heritage and identity which was in danger of being lost. The case of “Tatebayashi Noodle Grand Prix” which is presented in this chapter is a very recently developed regional food festival that encapsulates the history, heritage, culture and identity of regional food industries and businesses associated with wheat flour, soy sauce and udon noodles. This unique regional food festival not only becomes an important showcase for regional economic (re)development and regeneration but also plays a vital role in re-affirming the regional food industrial heritage and identity. Above all, an active collaboration between the agriculture, commerce, food and tourism industries is the centrepiece of this food festival development with support from the regional and local governments and communities.