A ‘must read’ before visiting Japan or just seeking to appreciate its beauty and unique culture.
Assigned to Japan in the 1970s was an eye opener for the young Urquhart family. They soon came to appreciate that beneath the westernised façade, Japan was still very much a country of ongoing traditions, culture, business forms and cuisine. All had been a part of Japanese life for centuries.
Based on a selection of letters written between 1974-85, Meet Japan is a journey of enlightenment as John and Lois delved into their particular areas of interest: ranging from the countryside and mountain villages, the hustle and bustle of cities, traditional business relationships, the evolution of the Japanese diet and Australia’s contribution to a food revolution. Between them, John and Lois visited every prefecture of Japan. The daughter of a commercial flower grower, Lois became engrossed in the colourful seasonal nature of the countryside, the spiritual core of Japanese garden design and traditional art media and pottery. John’s assignment was to market meat – a food that, up until 1870, had never been a part of the diet. Business practices, political intrigue, Japan’s relationship with western culture, the old social class system, the traditional diet and the inclusion of western style foods since WWII– were all factors that had to be understood.
About the Author
Born in Portland Victoria, the son of a livestock buyer and inheriting his mother’s enquiring mind, John was fortunate to gain experience in all aspects of meat processing during nineteen years with Thomas Borthwick and Sons, the then leading meat exporter. During the 1960s he was involved in rapidly expanding Japanese boneless mutton market. In 1970, John was a team member in the pioneering of chilled vacuum packaged beef shipments to Japan and represented Borthwicks in Japan during the tumultuous mid 1970s. Returning to Japan in 1979 for six years to represent the Australian meat industry in North Asia, John gained a deeper appreciation of the fast-evolving change in Japanese total food market and was at the forefront of the introducing of chilled lamb to the Japanese market.
John was a committee member of the Saint Andrew Society and helped form the Tokyo Piping Society, which he led for several years. These roles created life-long friendships and opened new windows of discovery into the blending of Japanese and foreign cultures. John continued to be involved in export market development until his retirement.