Faculty and students at APU tackle regional issues: Considering the sustainability of Usuki's food culture


Mar 18, 2024

In June 2023, Professor Tomonori Sudo from the College of Sustainability Tourism and his seminar students embarked on a nine-month investigation into the sustainability of Usuki's food culture, termed "Sustainable Gastronomy."

Usuki City, as a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for Gastronomy, has seen its food culture highlighted globally. However, questions arise about whether Usuki's traditional food culture meets global sustainability standards, especially amidst concerns about the outflow of younger generations and the consequent threat to food culture sustainability.

The research aimed not only to evaluate the sustainability of Usuki's food culture from an academic perspective but also to contribute to fostering pride and attachment to the local community among Usuki citizens and devising strategies for utilizing it for tourism. Students conducted the investigation via literature review, data analysis, and field surveys to assess the interconnectedness of economic, social, and environmental sustainability through six themes closely related to food sustainability such as ensuring a healthy diet and the circularity of local resources.

International student teams analyzed reasons for the inheritance of their respective traditional cuisines, similar to Usuki's "Kirasumameshi" and compared them with Usuki's food culture, while evaluating their applicability. The results of these investigations reaffirmed the sustainability of Usuki's food culture.
Furthermore, given Usuki's historical ties with Europe and the high emphasis placed on sustainability within affluent demographics, forming tourism strategies targeting such regions was deemed appropriate.

On February 3, 2024, a symposium was held in Usuki City to widely report the research findings to citizens and local high school students. Participants expressed that they gained a new perspective on Usuki's local cuisine, felt proud to know that Usuki's food culture is globally recognized, and were motivated to contribute to the development of Usuki's food culture.

This initiative was carried out in collaboration with the Oita Prefectural Government's Central Promotion Bureau, Usuki City Hall, Usuki High School, and local companies, under the "Oita Regional Collaboration Platform Project for the Assessment of Usuki City's Food Culture Sustainability and its Potential for Tourism Resources from an Academic Perspective" in the fiscal year 2023.

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