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Kurihara Harumi Wins International Cookbook Award (May 9, 2005)

Kurihara's award-winning cookbook (Fusosha)
When it comes to the art and science of Japanese homemaking, Harumi Kurihara reigns supreme. Dubbed the karisuma shufu ("charisma housewife"), Kurihara is the author of numerous highly popular cookbooks, has produced a line of cookery merchandise, and has set up her own restaurant. Kurihara's reputation went global in February when her English-language book, Harumi's Japanese Cooking, was selected as Best Cookbook of the Year 2004 at the 10th Gourmand World Cookbook Awards - the Oscars of the cookbook world.

Enjoying life
Kurihara, 57, never set out to be a celebrity. After graduating from junior college, she married TV presenter Kurihara Reiji and settled down as a housewife and a mother of two children. During this time, she found herself playing host to numerous guests from the media world who were invited home by her husband for food and drinks. Her homemade dishes made a lasting impression on many of them, and word began to spread that Kurihara had a special talent for cooking.

After 36 years of staying at home as a housewife, Kurihara's TV career was launched in 1983 when she landed a job as a production assistant working behind the scenes on a TV cooking program. The work gave her the opportunity to cook professionally, and she used the knowledge and experience she gained to establish retail stores and restaurants that promised her customers "enjoyable living."

The secret of Kurihara's success is not difficult to fathom. Her culinary concoctions are not only delicious but also easy to make and healthy. They bring the flavors of old-fashioned Japanese cooking to the modern household. A book of her recipes titled Gochiso-sama ga, Kikitakute (Longing to Hear the Words "That Was Delicious"), which she wrote in 1992, went on to become a multi-million-seller and is now seen as an indispensable tome for newlywed homemakers. The book lives up to its subtitle, "Meals that your family will love every time," by emphasizing ingredients that are healthy, inexpensive, and familiar to most Japanese people, such as mackerel, sardines, vegetables, seaweed, and tofu. The book is also sprinkled with plenty of Kurihara's personal comments, in which she expresses her love of cooking and other housekeeping tasks.

A big reason behind the book's popularity is the flexibility of its recipes, which are based on common ingredients found around home. The cookbook, along with her other ambitious projects, have turned Kurihara into something of a phenomenon. All of her publications have sold more than 10 million copies, while she has even inspired some fanatical admirers - known as "Harura" - to copy her hairstyle, clothes, and lifestyle to a tee.

Global Charisma
Kurihara gained recognition outside Japan in February, when her English-language book, Harumi's Japanese Cooking, was named Best Cookbook of the Year 2004 at the 10th Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Orebro, Sweden. The book was chosen from more than 5,000 publications from 67 countries. Kurihara was the first Japanese - the first Asian, in fact - to be the overall winner at the awards. Her book received the Best in the World Asian Cuisine Book Award to reach the final selection of nine winners in eight different languages, before being named the overall winner.

The book was praised for taking a fresh and open-minded look at Japanese cuisine, presenting it as something that can created quickly and easily in the home, rather than being constricted by tradition. Kurihara is currently studying English, because, she says, "I would like to teach cooking to foreign people." If all goes well, the fame of Japan's cooking queen could become a worldwide phenomenon.

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Copyright (c) 2005 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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