Fostering Rich Food Culture through the Expansive World of Salt
Shiho Aoyama is the founder of the salt specialist certification “Salt Coordinator”. Growing up with a mother who was a fantastic cook led her interest in the culinary world, where she worked for a food company after graduating from university. After successfully turning the deficit brand into the black, she got married and moved to Okinawa at the age of 29, where she was introduced into the world of salt.
"When I was looking for a new job, I happened to click with the president of a company that runs a salt specialty store ‘Ma-Suya’. He asked if I would help him boost the salt industry, which felt like an exciting new challenge.”
Salt is a very broadly used term, considering that the taste and shape can vary depending on the production area and manufacturing method. The more Aoyama researched the characteristics of hundreds of salts made in Japan and overseas to create a database, the more she was fascinated. Eventually, she wanted not only to sell products but also spread her knowledge of salt. In 2012, she independently launched the Japan Salt Coordinator Association.
“Salt influences the deliciousness of our food and is also deeply related to health and beauty, but where and how it is made is still very much unknown. I believe it is socially meaningful to convey the extensiveness of salt.”
In addition to training salt coordinators, Aoyama currently travels back and forth between Okinawa and Tokyo to conduct consulting for salt specialty stores and seminars for chefs. Her goal is to make several types of salt commonplace in ordinary households.
“When you choose salt well, you will be able to feel the original taste of the ingredients, which will lead to food education, and your table will look stylish just by adding several types of salt to a plate. I hope more people become particular about salt, and our food culture becomes even richer.”
Shiho Aoyama was born in Tokyo in 1977. After graduating from Keio University, she worked in sales, marketing, and product development at Kagome Co., Ltd. Since 2008, she has been in charge of creating textbooks for the in-house certification program at Shioya. She is currently a Representative Director of the Japan Salt Coordinator Association.
2. "Sal de Gusano Sea Salt" (right) containing insects called Gusano and peppers, and "Full Moon Salt Fukushio" (left) made from seawater at high tide of the full moon.
3. There are dozens of kinds of salt at "The Meadow" in Shinjuku. The back wall is made of rock salt and there is a corner filled with salts from Japan.
4. A pallet with various salts. Aoyama owns 1400 kinds of salt.
5. A bowl, perfect for salads, that is made of Himalayan rock salt is also sold at The Meadow.
Japan’s first "The Meadow” store—a craft food store that originated in Portland—at which Aoyama helps produce the salt corner, is on the first floor of Shinjuku LUMINE 2 by the south exit of JR Shinjuku Station.