There are days we never forget. For example, the day we first went to school or the day we first met our partner. And interestingly enough, I remember in detail the day I first ate nattó. Nattó is fermented soybeans and perhaps the most important food Japan has given me. Here is the story: With a group of friends we spent a nice weekend in a mountain place called Karuizawa. It is not just a place, but very famous place to go to in summer, when it is hot in Tokyo, hard to survive. Everyone wants to enjoy pastures and homemade food in Karuizawa, and yes, we enjoyed ourselves. We received a Japanese breakfast with nattó in the morning and the owners of the guest house emphasized that they do the nattó themselves. And because I was the only foreigner there and because I was in Japan only few months, everyone wanted to show me how to mix nattó. I was fascinated by the way the nattó began to thaw. I didn’t mind the smell, which does not smell well to many people. Nattó was great. I liked it and immediately I became the hero of the day. I felt accepted. Accepted, thanks to nattó. It probably wasn’t quite like that, but I was naive and full of desire for friendship, and that’s probably why I remember the day so strongly. It happened 45 years ago. I did not leave nattó and nattó did not leave me.
Nattó’s fiber extending from bite to bite seems to wire also my experience between Japan and my Czech homeland. After Karuizawa, I was proud of myself that I ate nattó and my Japanese husband did not. He never really liked it. And because he was a workaholic and performed little involvement in our home affairs, as a result I was the bearer of Japanese culture in our household. I included nattó to our family diet. It is said that love passes through the stomach, and the same applies to me in relation to Japanese culture. I love Japan because from the first moment I liked almost everything I took in my mouth. I ate even namako without any problems. This is sea cucumber, which is not a vegetable but an animal. It looks strange, slimy and ugly crunchy. It has a kind of suckers that look like Covid’s spikes. I recommend that before someone decides to move permanently to Japan, it may be a good idea to first try how to withstand nattó and namako. When the person falls in love with these two, like I did, there is a good chance to survive in Japan and do well. Culture passes through the stomach!
Thanks to the food, I was gradually remade to a Japanese likeness. Willingly. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to return home. After two years in Japan, when my first son was born, I went to the Czech Republic to show off to my parents how Japan enriched me. I took with me a jar with nattó, because I thought that without nattó I would miss Japan too much, besides I wanted to share that goodness. Maybe I wanted to introduce the secrets of Japanese culture to my loved ones and I took it unfortunately through nattó. My parents cared very little about the kind of my enrichment. Immediately after arriving from the airport, I carefully put the nattó in the fridge, and because we had plenty of other interesting things to talk about and because the dining table was overflowing with Czech goodies, it was not until a few days later when I remembered nattó. But the jar was not in place. I asked my mom if she had seen… and I didn’t even have to explain much, she knew right away. She said that she indeed found some stinky ugly thing and threw it away. I argued it was true goodie, my beloved food. But my mom didn’t think it was edible and probably she believes so till today. Nattó no no!
In fact, nattó became a symbol of my connection with Japan. I even noticed that when I rebelled against something in Japan, I stopped eating nattó. In such a situation I longed most for dark bread and butter. Rice and nattó. Bread and butter. These are two pairs that speak about me. Two pairs I care about. When I want and can have both of them, and my loved ones love them too, I am happy. I can’t imagine that my second husband, who is not Japanese but Czech, would not like nattó. He loves nattó. He even starts his every day with nattó. Then we continue our breakfast with the bread and butter. When he goes on his science trip, he takes nattó with him, just like I did long ago when I went to show up in Bohemia. We both expect that nattó will keep us in good health and prolong our lives. We believe that nattó fiber, which look like nanotubes, has a power that we humans should recognize and use. Scientists promise that a rope for a lift connected to other planets of the universe will be woven from nanofiber, and we gastronauts promise that nattó fiber will prepare us for this journey, be it to the Moon.
So here it is! Now you finally know why I’ve been trying for twenty-six years to convince people to eat nattó. In Miyabi we have nattó as a product in the original Japanese packaging and we prepare the same product for inspiration as a meal. Of course, you can also order the classic nattó hosomaki sushi and we newly offer fried nattó cocoons in nori seaweed. I call them Minafrities. Mini Nattó Fried Beans. It is awesome! Absolutely great food! We will add wasabi and soy sauce so that you may taste Minafrities similarly as sushi. Allow yourself to become courageous traveler to a bright brilliant tomorrow!
To be ready for the journey please find the necessary information about nattó on the net and you may also read my blog on the Miyabi website. You will learn why nattó is so healthy. In addition, Lukáš Holinka’s art magazine ZAK is being published right now, and several pages are dedicated to my beloved nattó. Eeeeeeeeeextending nattó. Moreover, we will celebrate nattó together this weekend. Yes, Tribute to Nattó is waiting for you. Minafrities, nattó okonomiyaki and nattó oinari will have their premiere. Nattó futomaki will be offered as the popular 1 + 1 special. When eating these goodies under the blossoming sakura trees, it may happen that nattó fibers will transport you virtually to the faraway Japan. Elevator to Japan. Enjoy your meal!