Marinus in Japan & Thailand

In December 2019, director Marinus Noordenbos went on a business trip to Japan and Thailand. In two weeks’ time he spoke with many Japanese fish suppliers about possible collaborations, he coincidentally walked into the director of Nichirei, visited a large fish fair at the invitation of the Japanese government, and visited many friends and family. This and many more Marinus did together with his daughter Alice, which made the trip extra special for him. You can read his entire report below.

November 22

“After a long day of traveling, Alice and I arrived in Tokyo. The city where my wife Yukiko and I met 29 years ago and where her family still lives. We jumped into a cab to see our aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and of course obachan: grandma. Because Alice turns 20 soon, we held a traditional Seijin Shiki with the family: a ceremony to celebrate that she is (almost) an adult. Fully in traditional kimono, as befits tradition. A beautiful start of our trip together.”

November 24

“There are 14 million people living in Tokyo. The odds that you run into someone are extremely small. Nonetheless, it happened to me. In the supermarket I bumped into to mister Ienaga, the director of the largest fish company in the world: Nichirei. Ienaga and I have been interested in each other’s work for quite some time, but never before have we done business together. Japanese people believe in go-en, or in other words: predestination. According to Ienaga, our meeting in this metropolitan was a sign to start working together. As such, we will expand our assortment in the near future with some of Nichirei’s top products.”

November 25

“Alice and I traveled from the capital to the beautiful Hakata, where we visited a company that produces Tarako (salted cod roe) and Mentaiko (spicy cod roe). It was incredibly interesting to hear from a professional how this process works. In the future, we would like to offer our own authentic Mentaiko by flavoring the Tarako by ourselves in IJmuiden. For the time being, this is a plan that we are working on behind the scenes.”

November 27

“With the Japanese bullet train the Shinkansen, Alice and I went from Hakata to Kagoshima. This train ride alone is already worth a trip to Japan: the train runs along the magnificent Japanese coastline and has a breathtaking view over the sea. After three hours we arrived at a satsumaage (Japanese fishcake) factory. We got an extensive tour including a lot of information on the mixers and ingredients. It was very impressive to see.”

November 28

“On to Hiroshima where we visited Farm Suzuki. This oyster farm from mister Suzuki exports freshly frozen oysters. At Hokkai Suisan we also work with freshly frozen fish, which means that we freeze our fish products really fresh and fast, to prevent any damage to the ice crystals. This way the flavor of the fish remains fully preserved. It turns out, that with oysters it works exactly the same. Together with Jean Dhooge from Oesterij, we feasted on great, freshly frozen oysters!”

November 29

“Back in Tokyo we visited a large food expo at the invitation of the Japanese government. Like us, many Japanese organizations wish to spread the Japanese food culture in Europe. Therefore, we talked with a lot of companies to discuss potential collaborations. This resulted in very interesting discussions and new contacts. After the expo we went to have dinner with mister Wrashina, my Japanese mentor.  Mister Warashina is the owner of the fish processing company where I worked for a year when I was 18 years old. Under his wing the idea of Hokkai came into being. It was amazing to see each other again.”

December 1

“After nine days Alice and I traveled from Japan to Bangkok. It was my 20th time in the capital of Thailand, but never before did I come here with one of my daughters. As such, we started with a day of sightseeing. Together with Co van Kessel Bangkoktours we cycled for about three hours through the entire city. It was a wonderful experience.”

December 2

“From Monday till Wednesday we visited our four regular suppliers in Thailand. Among other things, they produce our Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, Oden set and Chikuwa, all according to authentic Japanese recipes of course. My yearly visits to these factories are very important to me, because I want to stay up to date on the production process of our fish products. We also always discuss the possibilities to broaden our assortment with new products. This time I was very pleased with the Shrimp toast. Perhaps I will share more about that later.”

December 4

“Alice and I ended this incredible trip with a lovely dinner in the exclusive Michelin restaurant Blue Elephant. After that it was time to go back to IJmuiden, where I got back to work with Hokkai Suisan and Hokkai Kitchen with renewed energy and inspiration.”