A workshop on the theme of cacao and chocolate was held at Kitsune no Botan, a creative tavern in Omishima. It was planned by Seiichi Fujiwara, a resident of Tokyo and a native of Omishima Town. He has been involved in the development of products such as "Bean To Bar Chocolate," "Chocolate Kouka," and "Melty kiss" at Meiji Co. I went to talk to Mr. Fujiwara, who has been involved in the planning and development of chocolate for many years.
Mr. Seiichi Fujiwara
Mr. Fujiwara was born in Omi, Omishima Town. After graduating from Imabari Nishi High School, he entered the Department of Science and Engineering at Waseda University. He majored in applied chemistry, which is a study of the potential of chemistry in various advanced fields, and was studying petroleum energy. At that point in his life, he wasn’t involved with chocolate, but he had loved chocolate and all things sweets since he was a child. After graduation, he chose to work at Meiji Seika, Ltd. (now Meiji Co., Ltd.), where he was assigned to the Confectionary Development Laboratory, which led him to begin his endless journey of exploring cacao and chocolate.
At the Confectionery Development Laboratory, he was in charge of developing recipes and manufacturing methods for chocolate products. Since joining the company, he has been devoted to chocolate for 24 years, and he laughs, "I don't even know how much chocolate I have eaten.” The products that Mr. Fujiwara was in charge of include "Bean To Bar Chocolate," "Chocolate Kouka," "Almond Chocolate," "Macadamia Chocolate," "Melty kiss," "Meiji Milk Chocolate," and other popular products, and they are all familiar in supermarkets and convenience stores. Since 2016, he has been working on product planning in the Cacao Development Department at the head office.
Planning "meiji THE Chocolate”
Mr. Fujiwara takes time out of his busy work schedule to promote cacao and chocolate at events, on TV, and in newspapers and magazines. He has also appeared on TV programs, "Zenryoku! Datsuryoku Times" (Fuji Television) and "Tsukai! Akashiya-Denshidai” (Mainichi Broadcasting System) several times, so many of you may have seen him. He also personally promotes cacao and chocolate on YouTube as the "Prince of Chocolate," although he downplays himself by saying, "I don't have very many registered users (laughs).” As a side note, Mr. Fujiwara has several YouTube accounts, and he also has a channel for playing the bean-pipe as his personal hobby. All the interview staff had a good laugh when he showed us the video.
This event was a unique event where participants enjoyed learning about the history of cacao, how chocolate is made, and the health benefits of cacao polyphenols, while tasting chocolate and enjoying the marriage of chocolate with other ingredients. The participants were also very excited to learn about the differences in taste between different cacao varieties and regions, and to have the precious experience of touching and tasting actual cacao fruits.
Actual cacao fruit
Enjoy chocolate tastings
and chocolate-covered curry
The collaboration project featured chocolate-based curry, dessert and coffee during the daytime, and cacao dishes and Omishima Brewery beer during the evening. The project was supported by young members living in Omishima.
From the left, Mr. Takahashi from Omishima Brewery, Mr. and Mrs. Kashima who manages Kitsune no Botan. Mr. Fujiwara, Mr. Ikeda, a member of the Local Vitallization Cooperater, and Ms. Nakamura who runs the Munakata coffee shop
“The purpose of organizing this event was, of course, to let people know more about cacao and chocolate, but what I wanted most was to let people know about the people who are working hard in Omishima," said Fujiwara. ”I love Omishima. As a native of the island, I should be doing something for my hometown, Omishima. But now I'm in Tokyo, and there is a limit to what I can do. There are many young people who are working hard in Omishima, and I am very grateful for their presence, and I have always wanted to do something to repay them. I've always wanted to do something together with them.” This is how this event came to be.
There are many people like Mr. Fujiwara who live away from their hometowns. On the other hand, there are also many who come from the cities to live in the countryside. Searching for comfort with a life in harmony with nature, rich in spirit, and a way of life that is unique to them. They may be in different positions, but they all share the same for Imabari. Mr. Fujiwara has left his hometown, but his heart is still connected to Omishima. This event has created a new bond between cacao, chocolate, and the local people. Perhaps it is because chocolate is everyone's favorite that it can become a bond of connection and interaction between people.
Chocolate is also a fermented food made by fermenting cacao, and in recent years, its health benefits have been attracting attention. The source of Mr. Fujiwara's various activities is his passion, "I want to raise the value of chocolate in Japan through deliciousness and health benefit, and make everyone happy.
"I'm into Cacao". This is Mr. Fujiwara, and he's into cacao!
Click here for the website of Meiji Corporation, where Mr. Fujiwara works.
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