Kurihara, Harumi

Kurihara, Harumi
▪ 2007

      Japanese celebrity homemaker, chef, and lifestyle expert Harumi Kurihara, who had already stirred up a fervent following in Japan, expanded the realm of her influence to global proportions in April 2006 when her first English-language cookbook, Harumi's Japanese Cooking: More than 75 Authentic and Contemporary Recipes from Japan's Most Popular Cooking Expert, was released in the United States. Winner of the 2004 Gourmand World Media Award for best book of the year (the first such prize ever bestowed on a book by an Asian author), it was lauded for presenting simple recipes for traditional Japanese cuisine that could be prepared quickly and easily with relatively familiar, inexpensive ingredients in lieu of the difficult and laborious techniques that this style of cooking often required. With the use of helpful tips and easy shortcuts—whether for cooking, cleaning, or decorating a home—Kurihara sought to teach her scores of fans how to create a pleasant environment for their families and enjoy the tasks associated with running a household while minimizing the day-to-day drudgery.

      Kurihara was born on March 5, 1947, in Shimoda, Shizuoka prefecture, Japan. She was raised in a traditional Japanese household and was taught by her mother how to cook simple yet tasty Japanese food. She later said that she had learned from her modest upbringing to appreciate life's small pleasures and that she enjoyed incorporating those values into her own home. After Kurihara married a well-known newscaster in Japan, her exceptional cooking skills were noticed by reporters who went to her home to interview her husband, and she was soon invited to submit recipes and short articles to various magazines. This led to a television career in 1983, when she served as a production assistant on a cooking program. She moved on to host her own series of shows, but it was not until 1992, when she published her first cookbook, Gochisōsama ga, kikitakute (“I Want to Hear You Say Delicious”), that Kurihara emerged as a national icon. By 2006 she had authored more than 40 cookbooks, which had sold some 15 million copies. She established a magazine, Suteki reshipi (“Great Recipes”), and opened a chain of stores that sold her own brand of houseware items, including aprons, gardening tools, kitchen equipment, linens, and cookware. Kurihara also oversaw several restaurants that used her recipes to create authentic Japanese dishes from fresh local ingredients. Her husband encouraged her career and eventually took over as president of her corporate empire, Yutori no Kukan (“A Place to Relax”).

      Building on her popularity as a cooking-show host, Kurihara was moving forward in 2006 with plans to produce a cooking series on DVD for the Japanese market. With a keen interest in sharing her techniques for preparing traditional Japanese dishes with Western audiences, Kurihara also began taking English lessons and appeared on Japanese television to promote the study of the English language.

Barbara A. Schreiber

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Universalium. 2010.

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