Haicheng Zhao came to Japan in 1985 and majored in television at the Nihon University College of Art. In 1988, he helped found, and was the first editor of, Ryugakusei Shimbun, the first Chinese language newspaper for Chinese living in Japan. In 1995, he became the representative for the Ethnic Media Press Center, a collection of ten countries’ foreign language media geared towards foreign residents in Japan. In 1999, Zhao was made the advertising manager at Daifu, a satellite broadcasting company broadcasting China-related programming for Japan. Also that year, he was selected by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government as a member of the Foreign Residents’ Committee, which was established to give advice and feedback to the Governor of Tokyo about various issues related to foreign residents. In 2000, Zhao took part in the making of Yuyu Shiruku Rohd, a documentary jointly produced by Japan and China. He returned to China in 2002. Since then, Zhao has traveled back and forth between Japan and China working as a freelance writer and cameraman. In 2015, he published Zainichi-chugokujin 33-nin Sore demo Watashitachi ga Nihon wo Suki-na Riyu, which became a bestseller in Japan.
Wakayama is said to be the sacred abode of the gods as well as the birthplace of artisans. After visiting the Papermaking Studio in Tanabe City and the soy sauce shops in Gobo City , I could understand how that reputation came about.
Paper-making using plant material was invented by Cai Lun in China during the later part of the Han dynasty, and this knowledge of this process was transmitted to Japan around 610 CE. This is the same process that the proprietor of the Papermaking Studio, Mr. Okuno, still uses today to make washi, or “Japanese paper.”
Also, during the Kamakura era, a monk known as Kakushin went abroad to study in China. While he undertaking his training in Zen Buddhism at Jingshan Temple, he also learned how to make Jingshan miso paste. Kakushin returned to Japan in 1254 and set about spreading his knowledge of Zen Buddhism among the local inhabitants; in the course of this, he also spread his knowledge of Jingshan miso paste-making. This led to the incredibly delicious culinary discovery of a miso-based soy sauce created using the liquid that runs off of miso as it matures. In the present day, Keisuke Nomura creates soy sauce using the same methods that his distant ancestor and founder of the family business did eighteen generations ago.
Now my son (age 8) has discovered another treasure in a Japanese convenience store. “Wakayama Ramen Noodles in a Rich, Pork Bone Soy Sauce.” So incredibly delicious. My son tells me he wants to bring a bunch back to China. The charms of Wakayama are limitless.