Falling in love with the Vietnamese cuisine of pho at first sight two decades ago, the Japanese congressman has since witnessed the strengthening bond between himself and Vietnam through various cultural exchanges.

“At the Japan Trend Festival held in Ho Chi Minh City last weekend, Aoyagi, head of the organizing board, expressed his hope that these events will facilitate a deeper understanding of Vietnamese and Japanese cultures and strengthen the bilateral relationship between the two countries,” Aoyagi shared with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

The Japanese politician fondly reminisced about his initial impression of the Southeast Asian nation, describing it as a vibrant and promising country with great potential for development.

In subsequent years, there was an increased exchange of ideas between the two countries to establish economic and political cooperation. Additionally, cultural exchange events were initiated, starting with the Japan Festival in Vietnam and subsequently the Vietnam Festival in Japan, both of which have now become annual events.

In recent years, numerous initiatives have been undertaken to further enhance the bilateral relations between Vietnam and Japan, especially in light of the increasing number of Vietnamese individuals working and studying in Japan.

“It is beneficial to establish and maintain a consistent and organized relationship between the two nations, fostering mutual understanding through the initiation of various recurring cultural and sporting events. These events serve as platforms for people from both countries to engage and gain insight into each other’s cultures,” stated the congressman.

He emphasized the significance of food in tourism events, stating that Japan has been catering to an increasing number of international visitors in recent years.

Japan, a popular destination for international tourists, attracts an impressive average of 20 million visitors annually. Many of these tourists are drawn to the country’s renowned cuisine and consider it a must-do activity during their visit.

Food is the key to achieving economic growth, according to Congressman Aoyagi. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Food is key to achieving economic growth, according to Aoyagi Yoichiro, a member of Japan’s House of Representatives. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

The Japanese government and relevant agencies have recognized the potential of the gastronomy tourism sector as a key driver of Japan’s economic development.

The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry is currently developing plans to export authentic Japanese cuisine to various destinations worldwide, with the aim of making the unique and diverse flavors of Japanese food and culinary culture accessible to tourists everywhere.

Vietnam’s culinary culture has some similarities with that of Japan, according to Aoyagi. With this in mind, it is recommended that Vietnam expands its outreach and introduces Vietnamese cuisine globally, as food plays a pivotal role in driving economic development.

The Japanese politician expressed his appreciation for Vietnamese cuisine, specifically mentioning the highly anticipated ‘Vietnam Pho Festival 2023’ as one of the country’s most prominent international culinary gatherings.

Amidst the multitude of events that have been organized this year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Vietnam – Japan bilateral diplomatic relations, the anticipated pho festival promises to be a thrilling occasion, as shared by the spokesperson.

The price list of Pho Thin Lo Duc restaurant in Tokyo, Japan in 2019. Photo: NICK M.

The price list of Pho Thin Lo Duc restaurant in Tokyo, Japan in 2019. Photo: NICK M.

According to him, many Vietnamese companies have established their operations in Japan, with the opening of Vietnamese restaurants in Japan continuing to be a popular business strategy. One dish in particular, pho, is widely recognized and enjoyed in the country.

He mentioned that the Vietnamese pho is both delicious and offers a wide range of flavors.

“Aoyagi initially tasted pho for the first time during a hotel breakfast,” he recalled.

“Its broth was exquisite and the dish was effortlessly enjoyable,” he reminisced, recounting his initial experience sampling pho.

Pho served at hotels may not compare to the quality found in local eateries, but many believe that Vietnamese pho offers a convenient and enjoyable dining experience,” he confidently expressed.

“I strongly believe that, along with many other Japanese individuals, the Vietnamese pho is exceptionally delicious.”

Aoyagi was appointed as the co-chair of the Executive Committee for the Vietnam Festival held in Japan in June of this year.

He has played a vital role in fostering strong camaraderie between Vietnam and Japan, facilitating the exchange of football talents and offering valuable opportunities for Vietnamese players to pursue their dreams in Japan. His extensive contributions to the Vietnam-Japan friendship are truly remarkable.

He has been a member of the organizing board for 15 out of the 16 editions of the Vietnam Festival in Japan.

The upcoming ‘Vietnam Pho Festival 2023’ is set to be held at Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, Japan on October 7th and 8th. This event aims to elevate the global appreciation of Vietnamese culinary culture, with a special focus on the popular dish, pho.

The festival also stands as a significant celebration of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Japan.

The event is co-organized by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper and Saigontourist Group, in collaboration with the Vietnamese Embassy in Japan, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Vietnam-Japan Friendship Association, and Japanese partners.

The program is supported by prestigious sponsors including Vietnam Airlines, Southern Airports Services Joint Stock Company, Ngoc Linh Kontum K5 Ginseng Pho brand, and several other renowned domestic and international companies.