Here at Arigato Travel, we recently had the pleasure of talking with the wonderful team behind Omotenashi Selection. With such a great selection of products that they promote not only locally but globally, we couldn’t wait to introduce them here on our blog.
Hello! Could you please introduce yourselves to us? What are your roles at Omotenashi Selection?
My department is called “Japan Brand Produce” in ENGAWA Co., Ltd. At ENGAWA, we are always on the lookout for the latest and greatest Japanese-made products and services to help local manufacturers/producers reach an international audience, either by assisting with product development, PR, or distribution opportunities with the support from over 20 partner companies.
OMOTENASHI Selection is the main project my team is in charge of and mainly operating. We do everything from finding the finest Japanese products and services from all over Japan, introducing our program to these makers and service providers, holding a judging session with international residents in Japan, awarding these items, and promoting the awarded items in various ways.
OMOTENASHI Selection will continue to find and promote the Omotenashi culture of Japan produced items and services, as well as bring those products closer to consumers and help companies seeking to make the international market.
For people that are not familiar with the term “Omotenashi” in Japanese, can you please explain a bit about what it means and the main concept behind Omotenashi Selection?
Omotenashi means “hospitality” in Japanese which include gestures to welcome a guest or cares to meet customer’s needs, before they are even expressed.
OMOTENASHI Selection is a collection of products and services that reflect the spirit of Japanese hospitality and the same kind of thought and consideration – whether it is a piece of clothing made with extraordinary attention to detail, food or drinks made in a traditional, time-honoured method, or just a small household item that brings a smile to your face every time you see it. We started the award in 2015 with the desire to share these amazing products and services with the rest of the world.
There are so many great products in Japan, so it might be hard to only pick a few of them! How are the awarded ones selected?
We conduct thorough searches all over Japan to discover products and services that represent Japanese hospitality and culture, but also appeal to a global audience. Each item is judged by international residents living in Japan. They are from more than 15 countries/regions and have both international and domestic points of views (Foreign residents that have a basic knowledge about Japanese culture, food, or living), such as media related directors, buyers, influencers, and embassy related personnel. The evaluation criteria “global” and “omotenashi” are used to evaluate these items.
Your goal is also to help these Japanese manufacturers/local products become well known overseas and we think that’s great. In your experience, which countries are most interested in these local products?
Since the OMOTENASHI Selection covers various categories of products and services, it is quite difficult to pick specific countries. Depending on the trends of each country, price range, cultural differences, every product and service has a potential market in different countries, and one of our missions is to find the potential market or country for each item. As for our recent projects, we are working with partner companies from the U.S. (NY), Singapore, China (Hong Kong).
You feature a lot of different categories such as food, tableware, room wear, and so much more. What are the main criteria the nominated products have to meet for the award?
There are 2 main criteria: “OMOTENASHI” and “GLOBAL”.
Our international judges will see the following aspects:
<OMOTENASHI> – Japanese hospitality
* Do you think this product reflects Japanese ingenuity or hospitality?
* Do you think the maker is considerate of the users? (i.e. usability, solving users problems, or just making them smile with this product?)
<GLOBAL> – international appeal
* Do you think the people in your country would appreciate and enjoy this product?
* Does this product have a potential market in your country in terms of quality, price, and/or uniqueness?
*If the item is a service,
Out of all of the wonderful products awarded throughout the years, what food-related item would you recommend to our readers?
There are tons of food-related items, and it’s too difficult to pick some.
Here are the recent food products which got popular among our international judges, and each has a unique backstory to tell.
ON THE UMAMI dashi Packs
Zaiho Premium Pudding
Smoked Seasoning Series
Fruit Amazake Series
Sesame Furikake series
Why do you think it’s such an important point to spread Omotenashi throughout the wider world?
We believe the spirit of “omotenashi”, such as consideration and thoughtful gestures to others, represents the mentality and unique cultural background of Japanese people. There are numerous products and services carrying the spirit but haven’t been introduced to the international audience yet. Through the OMOTENASHI Selection, we are trying to create a platform gathering a variety of high-quality Japanese products and services, and the platform will support manufacturers and lead to enhance the Japanese brand, and eventually provide surprise and excitement to people all over the world. This concept should benefit both makers and end-users throughout the world.
Thank you so much for talking with us today, we truly appreciate the chance to share your company with our readers!
Follow them on:
- Website: https://omotenashinippon.jp/selection/en/
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.come/watch?v=WDJjWIqjonY&t=88s (It’s Tokyo Weekender’s YouTube channel, but they have 2 videos covering OMOTENASHI Selection products. Three more videos will be published in June 2022)
- Twitter: @OMSenglish
- Facebook: Omotenashi Selection
- Instagram: @omotenashiselection
- Other: Twice a year, OMOTENASHI Selection has a special brochure (book-in-book style with Tokyo Weekender issue) https://www.tokyoweekender.com/omotenashi-selection-winter-2021/