Masa's Japan

Bourdain’s Field Notes

It’s always great when you can tell the story of a place through the eyes of an individual. It’s even better when that individual is an extraordinarily creative and talented artist with a unique way of looking at the world. How did they get from there to here? What mysterious forces shaped them? What was it about the place and circumstances of their upbringing that helped push them, gave them the drive and the hunger to be different, to be bold, to insist on carving out their own path?

Masayoshi “Masa” Takayama was raised a “country boy” in the rural farming community of Nasushiobara, Japan. It is a drab, featureless place — not unlike the town where another creative powerhouse, the Spanish chef and innovator Ferran Adrià, grew up in its seeming total absence of stimuli. Masa’s family was in the retail fish trade and during wedding season catered banquets. Even as a small boy young Masa worked after school and was even called upon to leave school during the busier times to assist with the family business.

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“They say you can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy. I don’t know if that’s true—we all come from someplace, that’s for sure—but New York City in Masa Takayama’s case seems far, far away from the little town he grew up in.”

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