Kamatani has discovered success too, however by going a unique approach. For her, she felt that the snack’s old-school picture wanted to alter. “Younger girls like candy potatoes, however they’ve this picture as ‘old style’ or ‘lame’, and folks assume ‘I wish to eat them, however they’re embarrassing to purchase’,” she mentioned.
To subvert that status, she targeted on onkochishin – an idiom that means “studying new concepts from the previous” – and began her enterprise with a classy, tricked-out, pink VW campervan in 2018. Quick-forward to 2021, and her enterprise has moved right into a everlasting (and nonetheless pink) storefront within the trendy Omotesando district of Tokyo. “All the gross sales employees, the imo [potato] ladies and imo boys, are influencers,” she defined. “They’re cool, trendy younger women and men.”
Regardless of Kamitani’s fashionable strategy, she recognised the attract of these old-school distributors. “I do not assume [they] will disappear,” she mentioned. “As a result of they’re ‘uncommon’, there are some prospects who’re fascinated by that sense of rarity and wish to purchase from them, so there’s a sure demand.”
For these keen, beginning a yaki-imo truck is comparatively simple. Not like different gastronomic enterprises in Japan, no meals licence is required – solely a allow to promote from the truck. There’s even an organization known as Yaki-imo Kobo (Yaki-imo Workshop) that gives info for potential distributors and sells all the pieces they’re going to must arrange a cellular store – together with cassette tapes of the yaki-imo track.
“I feel there is a rising appreciation and nostalgia for meals distributors that may permit them to proceed,” Rath mentioned. “The yaki-imo vendor is without doubt one of the harbingers of the seasons… It is onerous to think about an city panorama with out them.”
For Tanaka, the key is simplicity: roasted candy potatoes are naturally candy and might be eaten straight off the coals. It is nutritious, filling and “an amazing snack different to junk meals”, she mentioned. “Yaki-imo is and at all times will probably be a heart-warming deal with that holds many fond recollections.
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