Gastronomic Innovation

The Faculty of Agriculture, Yamagata University, actively enhances the preservation and use of the indigenous crops as an initiative to develop food-related industries. The Institute of Advanced Biosciences, Keio University, also undertakes state-of-the-art researches as well as studies related to local ingredients.

The Faculty of Agriculture, Yamagata University

Faculty of Agriculture, Yamagata University
Yamagata University is one of the national universities in Japan. The institution comprises six faculties, one of which, the Faculty of Agriculture, has its campus in Tsuruoka.

Because it is an area that takes pride in a wide variety of indigenous crops in Tsuruoka, Yamagata Indigenous Crops Preservation Center was founded in 2004 to ensure the preservation of the indigenous crops. In this Center, the indigenous crops are cultivated and exhibited while being preserved and the crops are employed by the students as educational materials.

Institute for Advanced Biosciences, Keio University (IAB)

The Institute for Advanced Biosciences,
Keio University
In 2001, the Institute for Advanced Biosciences, Keio University (IAB) was established in Tsuruoka. This private university is the oldest in Asia. The IAB is a bioscience research institution with leading-edge biotechnologies and IT.

The IAB is currently engaged in state-of-the-art research on sake in Tsuruoka. In collaboration with the Tsuruoka Sake Brewers Council, the institute clarified, by means of metabolomics, the scientific mechanism of jukusei, or aging of Japanese sake, which is a process of preservation for a certain period of time and, as a result, the flavor and smoothness of sake being enhanced.

Through this research, the institute tracked changes in the composition of namazake, or sake before heat treatment, and hiirezake, or heat-treated sake, made by eight sake breweries based around Tsuruoka, after four months of preservation. The result was that in namazake, glucose, the main component of sweetness, and the peptides, which are related to sourness and bitterness, increased and the amino acids decreased over time. In heat-sterilized hiirezake, on the other hand, no increase in glucose or the peptides was detected but the decrease in the amino acids was found to be faster than in namazake. This demonstrated a difference in transition between namazake and hiirezake.

This technology has caught worldwide attention since it may potentially be applied to management and evaluation of the quality of sake as well as to the optimization of preservation methods. In addition, the technology is increasingly expected to have the potential for use with other alcoholic beverages, including wine and shochu.

Tsuruoka Center for the Creation of Gastronomic and Food Industry

With the support of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the city of Tsuruoka has implemented since 2012 the project of comprehensive industrial enhancement, including creation of employments taking advantage of Tsuruoka’s robust food culture, as well as development of new business models through partnership of gastronomy and different fields, for the purposes of developing human resources and creating job opportunities for a new food industry.