Kyoto torchbearer sharing prefectures gourmet cuisine

IWAMA Takashi drives a sightseeing cab "Kyoto Gourmet Taxi" that speicalises in introducing gourmet cuisine to visitors.

Takashi, who studied cooking in France, has a cooking licence and licence to treat fugu (blowfish) so he has used his knowledge to provide advice to his customers as a sightseeing guide in Kyoto.

He says the happiest moment is when his customers smile and say, "That was delicious!".

The father of three also serves as the PTA vice president at his children's elementary school and makes a contribution to the local community.

Being designated as the Kyoto Prefecture Sightseeing Ambassador, Takashi also promotes the local charm of the prefecture on TV and radio. He ends his report with "Hurray to gourmet city Kyoto!"

How and when did you come up with the idea of a sightseeing taxi specicalising in gourmet food?

I used to drive a regular sightseeing taxi, but I wanted to use my knowledge and experience as a former chef and recommend restaurants based on information I've gathered eating at many different places. That's why I started a sightseeing cab service specialising in Kyoto gourmet food.

Do you have any unforgettable experiences form the days you studied in France?

The second week into my training in France, we served a group of twenty. A French customer came into the kitchen with an empty plate and said, "It was so delicious, I almost ate my plate!" That was a moment I will never forget.

What food ingredients or dishes would you recommend to people visiting Kyoto?

Kyoto is a historic city that is also rich in nature. I would definitely recommend the vegetables grown in Kyoto and river fish. I actually get a lot of requests about dishes the local Kyoto people eat daily, and I have a lot of recommendations!

Of all the different things you've eaten, what was the best dish you've had?

Honestly, there's so many that cross my mind, but if I have to choose, I would say the bento that was distributed after I helped at the Gion Festival. It's a special bento we only get once a year. After pulling the hoko float under the burning sun, the other pullers and I would commend each other for the hard work and enjoy the meal together.

What do you look forward to when you run through the streets of Kyoto as a torchbearer?

I must say, meeting people. On my job as a cab driver, I have many wonderful encounters with people. This time I will run past the many people who extend their support to the Games, so there will be a lot of new "torch relay encounters" I can look forward to.