Due to the various international research facilities that compromise the Kansai Science City there are about 200 foreign residents living and working in Seika Town. A local NPO called Seika Global Network offers various programs to help support and integrate the foreign population of the area. Not too long ago I was invited by Seika Global Network to come to their weekly Japanese language class that they offer free of charge for the foreign population of Seika. Normally this is a classroom environment where Japanese tutors help the foreigners with their Japanese and also teach some key cultural lessons. The week that I went was a special day and instead of having the normal class we went to the local community center (Mukunoki Center) for a Japanese cooking class!
Mukunoki Center is a new and really big community center that has everything from cooking rooms, music practice rooms, judo and kendo practice areas, basketball courts to an exercise gym. On this day about 40 of us gathered in the immaculately clean and spacious cooking room to make vegetable tempura, sushi and various other dishes. I think for most of us it was the first time we had a chance to make traditional Japanese cuisine and all the Seika Global Network volunteers were extremely helpful and nice in instructing us on the proper way to prepare the dishes.
The foreign population is quite diverse here in Seika and there were people from China, Korea, Peru, Eastern Europe and India. So it was really interesting to meet the people who live in town that I do various things for at work but rarely have a chance to meet face to face.
It was really fun to make the food but as it started piling up and looking more and more delicious it became harder and harder to hold myself back from eating the tempura right out of the fryer. But once everything was done we all sat down and had a big (40 people) group dinner and ate all the great food that we had just made. Everything was good and Nishi Sensei gave us some essential pointers on Japanese table manors.
After the meal everyone pitched in and we washed all the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. It was funny as having so many people from different cultures together there were a few people that seemed surprised to see men cooking and cleaning! All in all it was a fun night and I think everyone did learn a lot about Japanese cuisine, language and of course about each other.