FUKUSHIMA -- To celebrate this city becoming Japan's biggest consumer of natto -- fermented soy beans notorious for their strong smell and sticky texture -- the municipal government headquarters cafeteria has been offering a special natto curry with rice menu option on June 21 and 22.
A Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications household spending survey found that Fukushima city households spent more on natto than those in any other municipality in Japan in 2017, reclaiming the top spot after a two-year absence.
The municipal government and collaborators came up with the natto curry plan to "let people know that this area is No. 1 in Japan (for munching natto), and to attract people to the cafeteria." Customers, including municipal government employees, can add locally produced natto and eggs -- which Fukushima residents also spend more on than anywhere else in the country -- to the spicy curry on their own.
Fukushima Prefecture is also among Japan's top producers of peaches, apples and cucumbers by harvest volume, but the prefecture has not been able to build a nationally recognized brand identity for these products. A source related to the Fukushima Municipal Government said, "I want to promote these products' brands by eating them persistently (like natto)."
(Japanese original by Toshiki Miyazaki, Fukushima Bureau)