Get Away
— Awaji Island

In early April, I was invited to come to Awaji Island by one of my friends, Masayo Funakoshi, and set off the journey in a spur of the moment. Masayo is a chef, who makes people all over the world happy with her exquisite cuisine. She participated as food director in the Get Away project organized by Food Studio, held on this island. Setting off in a highway bus late at night from Tokyo, I crossed the Seto Inland Sea early the next morning.


Japan is a collection of 6,800 islands, both large and small. Despite living on the main large island, it is always a special and peculiar feeling when I cross the sea to visit a small island. On Awaji Island, the cherry blossom had reached full bloom. Visiting from chilly Tokyo over 600km away in the west, I was greeted by a warm and mild breeze. In the light rain, the bus ran southward; through one window I could see the calm Seto Inland Sea and the figures of people who enjoyed holiday sailing. On the opposite side, gentle hills were covered in rape blossoms trembling in the wind. In the Edo period (about 400 years ago), Awaji Island was a region known for producing rapeseed oil used for fueling oil lamps. The yellow flowers seemed like relics of that time. I arrived at the venue, Izanagi Shrine, quietly nestled in a town surrounded by very old trees, with a solemn atmosphere and a fragrance of spring in the air.

Arriving a little early, I entered the venue were the whole team was preparing the event. Eva was busy setting up the table setting and lighting for the dinner. Together with the team from Graf, she managed to express the nature of Awaji Island on the dinner table in the shrine’s facilities, with cherry and rape blossoms floating on water in small holders made of bamboo of Satoyama. Before the event, the Food Studio team and chef Masayo had visited and researched local agriculture, animal husbandry, and fishery producers. Chef Masayo, her assistant Chihiro and the local support team had gathered various local spring ingredients and homemade pickled plums, and began to cook.

On why they chose to hold Get Away on Awaji Island, Cecilie replied, “From the beginning of this project in Japan, we have been in contact with Mr. Shigeki Hattori of Grafdesign studio in Osaka. He has been interested in our projects from the early days, and he helped make Get Away possible in Japan. Since he is involved in small towns’ communication advisory work all over the Japan, he introduced us to Awaji Island as a fitting location for this project and created a team of local people to join us.”

Kuniko, responsibly for the tourist office and communication at Awaji Island, a gathered everyone and guided the whole team on a trip trough the island the day before the event, visiting different producers and gathering local ingredients. Shigeki and Kuniko Yamaguchi, members of the NPO Awaji Art Center, introduced Food Studio to Yoshitsugu Sasada, a local farmer. As it is very important for Food Studio to have ties with the land and people, Sasada became a key person. Sasada is committed to sustainable agriculture and thinks the soil is a part of the human being. Not only focusing on universal and traditional themes, the team was also looking for ingredients that showed the richness of the island. Awaji Island’s food self-sufficiency rate is about 110%, making it more than twice of Japan’s and Norway’s total self-sufficiency rates. This richness of nature and food is why Shigeki recommended  this island.

A little past noon, the 25 participants gathered at the gate of the shrine, the Torii, with their sneakers and packed backpacks. Cecilie and Eva in their Nordic sweaters, briefly talked about Get Away concept, before everyone made a formal worship to Izanagi Shrine. After praying for the projects in the main hall, we were guided to the peripheral main hall by the priest. The formal worship, which we do not experience every day in Japan, left me with a special feeling.

After the Japanese traditional ritual program, a Norwegian one had been prepared. In a clearing surrounded by trees, we had Norwegian traditional “cream porridge”. It became clear then why we had to bring our own cups, bowls and cutlery; how unique and smart. Gathering our bowls from our backpacks or tote bag, we asked for porridge and sprinkled it with chopped reindeer meat that was smoked and salty, bringing it carefully to the mouth with a spoon.

“Somehow I feel like having bechamel sauce.”

“Norwegian porridge, it is interesting.”

“It is the first time for me to have reindeer meat.”

While eating, the conversation had started.

The paired drink was blackberry juice, called “toddy”. A deeply beautiful red drink, acidity a bit strong, it reminded me of the color of the berry that grows in the deep forest.

As Norwegians are said to be “born wearing skis”, they are very fond of outdoor activities. When Cecilie was a child, her parents took her out to nature with backpack packed with chocolate, hot toddy and the porridge almost every weekend. The experience of eating became a nice way to share the Norwegian background of enjoying nature. When we were done eating, we crossing an arched bridge into a small forest and sat down to hear about the story of farmer Sasada.

Get Away does not reveal the program in detail to the participants. It is because they want them to have a conversation with each other over what they experience during the day. Tina, who was the coordinator through their visit, taught me that was the important part of the Get Away. Indeed, when the program is explained in advance, it becomes easy to act by tracing it exactly. Get Away makes a point of making time to spare, so that each participant can think about what they experience and to share their thoughts. That left a strong impression on me.

In the evening, nearly one hour before the dinner, it was time to drink kan-zake (hot sake) together in the pavilion. Junichi Okamoto, who is the local potter, was the Okanban (the master of sake warming). He told us that drinking sake together is key for local communication, and that’s why kan-zake was adopted to the program. Taking in the shrine garden with the old local pottery in hand – all part of Okamoto’s collection – participants and staff shared a relaxing moment over nice conversations during the beautiful twilight time. The feeling of spring flowers and trees, the shrine’s atmosphere, I thought if there was a beautiful memory, it might be engraved at this moment.

Informing us politely to please refrain from taking photographs, Eva instead encouraged us to enjoy with our eyes and to share our experiences from the day with the person sitting next to us. Japanese are photography lovers, that is true. I quietly put my camera away in my bag.

Chef Masayo, who had visited the producers of Awaji Island with Cecilie and Eva, presented a tasty cuisine from rich natural resources. Seaweed, sea urchin, cattle beef, specialty vegetables – the onions that Awaji is famous for – wild grass, citrus and hand made pickled plums made by local women. Each material exhibited personal characteristics on Okamoto’s simple plate; some were soft, some crispy, others smooth, and like a light snowfall, conveying the joy of spring. The cuisine of chef Masayo had a sense of journey, which was beyond nationality. There were spring landscapes, the lush color of sea and mountain, and smell of the air, directly on top of the dish. The landscape of this trip seemed to remain intact in my memory of taste.

Masayo and the Food Studio team met in MAD Food Camp in Copenhagen last year, and found they had a common passion for food and social relationships. Masayo said, “Usually, food events tend to be rather energetic when cooking and collecting ingredients, but with Food Studio they build relationships carefully, meeting with local people and professionals. I think that is great and pleasant way of working.”

Shigeki thought their way of creating their program is well-designed. “While supporting the project, I was impressed that they designed communication work in details, both for participants and speakers. Never does it feel like an overly tight and punctual program; they created a relaxing experience. It’s a way of thinking about how hospitality should be designed.”

Food Studio’s Get Away is not only about the memory of taste, but also about the ties between land and food, earnestly opening the senses to nature. I greatly sympathize with this philosophy. “What do you think? How do you feel?” When talking about food and food culture, it is rare to have such simply phrasing questions at the table in our everyday life. By thinking and sharing our ideas out in nature, we can sharpen our sense of what honest and simple food is. Through Food Studio’s message, a new small seed was left behind in my mind. I hope it was left in all the other participants as well.

Have a look of our day at Awaji Island.


4月に入ったばかりのある日、友人の船越雅代さんから淡路島に来ない?と突然連絡があり、急遽旅に出た。雅代は自由な料理で世界中の人を幸せにしているシェフである。ノルウェーのFood Studioのプロジェクト「Get Away」が淡路島で開催されるにあたり、彼女はプロジェクトのフードディレクターとして参加依頼されていた。私は東京から深夜高速バスに乗り、早朝瀬戸内海を渡っていた。


日本の読者のために紹介すると、Food Studioは、常駐のスタッフをほとんど持たないcollectiveなノルウェーの組織である。「honest food」「simple food」とは何かを問いかけ、多くの人と考えをシェアし、伝えるために2011年に設立された。設立者のCecilie Dawesが中心となり、外部のプロフェッショナルたちと企画に応じてチームをつくり、プロジェクトを発信している。

「Get Away」は、food studioが大切にしているプロジェクトのひとつで、自然の中で食を通じて新しい体験をする、参加・体験型プログラムである。ノルウェー国内で年間4回、シーズンごとに開催しているが、この春、オーストラリアのメルボルンに続き、東京と淡路島の2カ所で初の海外開催を行った。

来日したのは、Cecilieとメンバーのひとり、コミュニティディレクターでインテリアアーキテクトのEva De Mooreである。EvaはGet Awayを育て、ディレクションしてきた女性だ。

Food Studioチームとシェフ雅代は、農業、畜産業、漁業関係の生産者の元を訪ね、リサーチをしてきた。その春の食材と手作りの梅干しなどを前に、シェフ雅代とスタッフ、そして地元のサポートチームが手際良く準備を進めている。


地元農家の笹田美次さんはじめ、Food Studioに生産者を紹介したのは服部さんとNPO法人淡路アートセンターのやまぐちくにこさん。やまぐちさんも服部さんの淡路島のコミュニケーションワークになくてはならないメンバーである。土地と人とのつながりを大切にしている彼女達のコンセプトをもとに、土は人間の分身と考えて、サステナブルな農業を心がけている笹田さんに協力を依頼した。


お昼を過ぎると、いよいよスニーカーとバックパックを背にした参加者が約25名、参道の大鳥居の前に集まった。ノルディックセーターを羽織ったCecilieとEvaからGet Awayのコンセプトが簡単に伝えられ、まず全員で伊弉諾神宮に正式参拝した。本殿でプロジェクトの成功祈願をした後、神官の方に本殿周辺を案内していただく。正式参拝をするのは、日本でも滅多にないことなので、少し特別な気分になる。






Get Awayでは細かいプログラムを参加者に伝えない。参加者同士が会話を交わし、開催している土地や食について語り合ってほしいからだという。今回の来日でコーディネーションをつとめたTinaは、彼らがプロジェクトで大切にしていることをそう教えてくれた。

確かに、プログラムが事前に伝えられると、それになぞって行動することで安心してしまうかもしれない。余白の時間をつくり、プログラムに対して参加者それぞれが考える時間を設け、会話しながら感想をシェアしてほしい、というFood Studioのプログラム設計が印象的だった。




雅代シェフとFood Studioは、昨年デンマークのコペンハーゲンで開催されたMAD Food Campで出会い、食を通して目指している共通点を感じていたという。「フードイベントはどちらかというと、食材を集めて料理することにエネルギーが向かいがちですが、彼女達は人との出会いと、その人たちとプロジェクトの必然性を見極めて、丁寧に関係を築いていくところが気持ち良いですし、すばらしいと思う」と雅代シェフは振り返る。


Food Studioのプロジェクトは、イベントを単に舌の記憶を持ち帰るだけでなく、自然の中で素直に感覚を開き、土地と食の結びつきを参加者同士でゆっくりと考える、コミュニケーションプログラムに育てようとしている。その点に大きく共感した。

あなたはどう考える? どう感じた? そんな当たり前のフレーズを日常の食卓で交わすことは実は少ない。

自然の中で思考を巡らせて、考えをシェアすることが、honest & simple foodへの感覚を研ぎ澄ませる。そんな彼女達の思いは、私の心の中に、そして多くの参加者の心の中にもおそらく、新しい小さな種を残していってくれた。


Have a look of our day at Awaji Island.

Japanese words by Aya Ogawa

Translation by Natasha Vik

Photographs by Hideaki Hamada