Hokuriku is a region located several hundred kilometers away from Tokyo -- on the coast of the Sea of Japan -- and is essentially made up of three prefectures: Toyama, Ishikawa and Fukui. There are no major cities in Hokuriku, but the region offers a rich variety of foods, profound traditions as well as a wide range of famous tourist attractions. The wonders of Hokuriku have not only attracted Japanese people to the region, but foreigners too. There are approximately 37,000 foreigners living in Hokuriku, which is just over 1 percent of the total number of residents in the region (approximately 3 million). This section provides a glimpse into the lives of various foreigners who have based themselves in Hokuriku, and who have integrated themselves within the region.
TOYAMA -- "Monsieur J," a French confectionary shop, sits in the central part of this city, having opened in November 2013. French patissier Josselin Rimbod, 32, works there making popular cakes and macaroons, and says the smiles of his customers give him the fuel to do the job.
Born in Vendee, France, Josselin loved sweet things since he was a child. When he was 16 he enrolled in a patissier school. After graduating, he thought that if he stayed in France it would be boring because he could predict his future, so he traveled to famous hotels in countries including Italy, Denmark and Canada, where he improved his skills.
While working at a hotel on Bora Bora Island in Tahiti, through a friend he met Noriko, 34, who he began dating, and in March 2012 they married. Josselin says Noriko is always kind and smiling, while she says they were a match feeling-wise.
Wanting to open his own store, Josselin talked with Noriko and decided on opening a shop in Toyama Prefecture, where her parents lived. Noriko began learning how to manage a shop at a school under the Toyama New Industry Organization.
Josselin struggled with preparing his ingredients in the humidity of Toyama, and he couldn't get the ingredients he once could. Sleepless nights continued until the opening of the shop, as he experimented and rewrote his recipes.
Josselin made 300 yen macaroons the main product of the store, to be the flagship product. He always has a variety of flavors ready, such as chocolate, vanilla and cassis. Now some varieties sell out before noon due to their popularity. Other products include chocolate and raspberry cakes, selling from 500 yen and up. Another feature of his sweets is their use of many local products like Oyabe eggs, Shogawa citrons and Yatsuo black sesame. He credits the local ingredients with giving him more ideas as a chef.
Josselin says that in the future he wants to collaborate more with local people and work more with local food products, and eventually to pass on his knowledge to others.
The shop can be reached by phone at 076-461-5242.
(This has been the final installment of the Hokuriku Foreigner Focus series.)