Governor of Nara Prefecture
I would like to extend my warmest greetings to all, as the representative of the host prefecture of the 7th UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism. It is a great honor and privilege for Nara to host the Forum in Japan, with the support of the Secretary-General of the UNWTO, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, the member states, the affiliate members, and other related organizations.
Gastronomy tourism has been at the heart of Nara's initiatives to promote the linkages between food and tourism. Such linkages not only contribute to the promotion of traditional culture and diversity, but also the development of cultural communication, the regional economy, sustainable tourism, and gastronomic exchanges.
Nara was the first capital of Japan and is home to many valuable historical buildings and cultural properties. They date back to the Asuka and Nara periods, which spanned from the end of the sixth century to the end of the eighth century, and three UNESCO World Heritage sites are located here. You can also find well-preserved traditional farming villages and towns, and rich natural scenery, which many people consider one of the iconic landscapes of authentic Japan.
The history, culture, and nature of Nara have also fostered a rich food culture unique to the area, including Yamato vegetables called “Yamato Yasai.” In an effort to promote this food culture, we have established a brand accreditation system for agricultural, livestock, and aquatic products. We have also been active in holding food festivals and other promotional events. Recent local developments include the opening of more nice restaurants and “auberges” (restaurants with accommodation that offer excellent quality meals and service) which use locally-sourced ingredients. In May 2022, the second edition of Michelin Guide Nara 2022 was published.
As part of our efforts to promote education for the next generation, the Nara Prefectural Government founded the NARA Agriculture and Food International College (NAFIC) in 2016, to develop personnel who would further advance the food and agricultural sectors. We are now trying to form a partnership with a pioneering gastronomic institution, the Basque Culinary Center in Spain, which is located in the leading city in the field of gastronomy, San Sebastián in the Basque Country.
I sincerely hope you will have a chance to visit Nara and experience its rich food culture first-hand. During your stay in Nara, I hope that you will also visit Osaka, Kansai where the 2025 World Exposition is held, and other areas so that you can enjoy our winter cuisine and the many scenic areas of this beautiful country.