Sumidaya Shoten Co., Ltd.
Representative Director Mr. Shinichi Katayama
We could start selling our rice overseas because of the support of Buy TOKYO Promotion Project.
"Sumidaya Rice" that is named after "Sumidaya," a store with a long history of over 100 years, is an original blended rice Tokyo has certified as an "Edo Rice from Tokyo."
We create original and unique flavors only Sumidaya can create by considering the characteristics of the rice that changes every year, and intentionally choosing and blending several rice to bring out the best features of the rice.
We created "Sumidaya Rice" to bring out the natural flavors of the rice
The 5th generation master of Sumidaya Shoten, Mr. Shinichi Katayama proudly explained to us about the rice."People often ask us whether 'Sumidaya Rice' is made at a paddy field in the suburbs although it is introduced as being from Tokyo. 'Sumidaya Rice' is not rice produced in Tokyo. It is a special rice made by carefully selecting rice around Japan and blended it with our own unique recipe, which is then milled. This rice is certified by Sumida-ku and Tokyo as rice 'from Tokyo.'"
Why was the rice certified as being "from Tokyo" while it was not produced in Tokyo?
"'Milling' is actually crucial to bring out the original delicious 'flavors' of the rice. The 'flavor' of the rice is greatly influenced by the 'rice bran layer' right beneath the skin of the brown rice. If you mill brown rice using a modern and efficient milling machine,
adjusting to the consumers' taste, you will end up shaving off this 'flavor' component.
In contrast, our store uses an old milling machine made around 1945 - 1954. We take time to mill and do it in small portions, committed to the 'circulation type traditional milling method.' This helps you to appreciate the original flavors and sweet aroma of the rice."
Sumidaya Shoten is also able to discern good quality rice because of the extensive network with the production areas and businesses it has built in Sumidaya Shoten's history of over 100 years, and the commitment and teaching of the chefs that it has sold rice.
"We create a new kind of rice with the original blending recipe using a traditional milling method, utilizing our ability to 'discern' rice. Although the production area varies, we mill it all here in Sumida-ku, Tokyo. We can call ourselves the maker of 'Sumidaya Rice' from Tokyo because this idea and the reason was acknowledged."
Many "rice refugees" visit Sumidaya Shoten
"Many customers travel to visit us from far away although we are a small rice store in Sumida-ku. There are sometimes foreigners who visit us, finding us using their smartphones. I call these customers 'rice refugees' who wonder searching for delicious rice (laughter)."
Consumers now purchase rice from supermarkets, retail stores, online, or directly from the production areas. The brand name and the price becomes the main factors for choosing the rice. According to Mr. Katayama, "This is the reason for creating 'rice refugees.'"
"Rice used to be bought at rice stores. A staff would give all kinds of advice in person, considering what kinds of rice the customer likes, how the rice turned out that year, and teaching how to cook it well.
Because we lost these opportunities, people who have strong preferences for rice become 'rice refugees.'"
Mr. Katayama holds "rice cooking classes" at different places to help solve this disadvantage that does not allow selling rice in person. He wants consumers to experience the flavor and aroma of "Sumidaya Rice" and to taste the original flavor of the rice.
On top of this, Mr. Katayama has been gaining attention from overseas, in addition to people in Japan.
"The best rice in the world is in Japan. Rice cookers are also the best in the world. The top-selling electronic products among foreign tourists has been rice cookers for a decade. The interest foreigners have in Japanese rice is much higher than what we expect. I came to know about Buy TOKYO Promotion Project when I was thinking how I could help people experience tasting rice and sell it overseas."
"I fist visited a Japanese supermarket in the West Coast of US bringing "Sumidaya Rice" and two rice cookers in 2017. I offered people to experience eating "Sumidaya Rice" and sold it utilizing the subsidies of Buy TOKYO Promotion Project.
Other than a simple tasting experience and selling rice, I explained the difference between California rice and Japanese rice, and how to cook it the right way. This was extremely popular among the locals. I was asked by the store manager to also hold a "rice cooking class" and immediately went back to the US."
Now, other than the West Coast of the US, Mr. Katayama holds "rice cooking classes" every three months overseas in West Asia, including Singapore and Taiwan.
"We were also certified as a strategic US-export business in the fall of 2018, as a result of these successful results being acknowledged. I am surprised at how things are unfolding so quickly. However, my attitude has not changed from before, and it is just that what Sumidaya Shoten has been working on for a long time has been recognized. Considering this, my confidence has been strengthened and I now have a renewed motivation that I must keep polishing the shop curtain of Sumidaya Shoten.
I could start a so-called rocket start because of the support of Buy TOKYO Promotion Project. I am very grateful."