The Marmalade awards have always been an increasingly international event, and following the success of the Australian Marmalade Festival, we were thrilled to announce that the inaugural Japanese Festival of marmalade will be taking place in May 2019, in Yawatahama.

As part of the build up to this historic event, the Dalemain Marmalade Awards were delighted to be invited to Osaka, Japan in October, to attend the Hankyu British Fair. This is one of the biggest fairs in Japan and takes place in the Hankyu flagship department store in Central Osaka. The Dalemain team set off, armed with lots of marmalade, to host a world first – a pop up Marmalade contest for the people of Japan! We hoped to excite marmalade enthusiasts and to introduce the joys of marmalade to people not yet aware of its marvels.

We arrived in Osaka and met people from lots of fantastic British businesses who were attending the Fair. The Lake District was well represented, and we were joined by Lindeth Howe Hotel, the Lakes Distillery, Moongazer Cards and the Lake District Forum. After a visit up the tallest building in Japan and a trip to the rooftop gardens, it was time for the launch party. Jane Hasell-McCosh, founder of the Marmalade Awards, was asked to make a speech, which not to be out-faced by a challenge, she decided to do in Japanese. We can’t guarantee the quality of the translation, but the reception was rapturous!

The next day, it was time for the Fair to start. Thousands of people came pouring in! Everyone was so kind and happy, from customers to co-workers at Hankyu, and we enjoyed every minute. The Dalemain stand ran daily marmalade demonstrations, and we were asked all sorts of questions, from where we got our excellent marmalade scissors to what the best marmalade is to put in your tea! It was a completely new experience and we were honoured to have been asked to take part. Jane gave some talks about the Marmalade Awards and their history at Dalemain, which were really well received – since the broadcasting of the NHK documentaries about the gardens, she was something of a celebrity in Japan! In the evening we were kindly taken out to a tempura restaurant, which was incredible. The staff canteen food was also not to be sniffed at with an incredible range of freshly cooked Japanese meals, of all varieties.

Finally, it was time for the marmalade competition. The Mayor of Yawatahama arrived to judge alongside Jane and several other marmalade making experts. The crowd gathered and the scene was set. Jane had been nervous that people would not be interested in how the marmalade was judged but she needn’t have worried, as there was a full house of fascinated marmalade makers (and eaters!) and the judging was soon underway. There was a wonderful selection of flavours, but there could only be one winner, who thrillingly had visited the British Fair and was able to collect her certificate in person!

 

It was an honour to have the Mayor of Yawatahama and his team at Hankyu, and wonderful for them to have the opportunity to speak about the Marmalade Awards in Japan. The Festival is taking place in what is a key citrus region and we look forward to seeing all of the entries made from freshly picked Japanese fruits.

 

To celebrate the last night of the British Fair, we were treated to a very special Hankyu dinner, complete with sashimi, sake and a special Hankyu dance! It was wonderful to spend time with the Hankyu team, as well as the other fantastic businesses from the UK who took part in the 2018 Fair. We were sad to leave our marmalade team, who had looked after us so well. By this point they had been present for a week of marmalade making demonstrations, so hopefully may be inspired to enter the competition in May!

Once the Fair drew to a close, Jane was joined by her children Hermione, George and Beatrice and they made their way first to Hiroshima – a moving and fascinating experience – and then to the small town of Mitarai on an island called Osaki Shimojima. Jane very much wanted to visit this island as she had been sent marmalade entries from a wonderful Island Rural Marmalade group, who entered the ‘Octogenarian’ category with delicious Satsuma marmalade. Jane leapt at the chance to visit these ladies and learn more about where the marmalade came from. The island has faced struggles owing to the recent storms and their aging population, and it was so inspiring to hear from their revitalisation group, who have many fantastic ideas for the future of Mitarai. They are working with senior citrus farmers on the island to create more marmalade projects moving forward. Such an inspiration!

From Mitarai, Jane and family then travelled to Yawatahama, home of the 2019 Japanese Marmalade Festival! The Mayor and his team took them to meet the Chamber, who were delighted to learn more about marmalade. Jane got to learn all about the plans underway for the Festival, which was so exciting – to be kept up to date, make sure you check out the website! Jane also got to see the historic building where the judging will be taking place. Heritage has always been such an integral part of the Awards and Festival, and we are so pleased that the judging will be taking place in such a beautiful location. Jane and her family also got the chance to visit several orange growers whilst in Yawatahama – the look and smell of the fruit is a sight to behold and we can’t wait to share it with visitors from all over the world next May!

Overall, the trip to Japan was a once in a lifetime experience, filled with new places, food and people and Jane cannot wait to return in May with head judges Dan Lepard and Michael Perry for the inaugural Dalemain World Marmalade Awards & Festival in Japan. We hope to see you there!