Students working in-store wore aprons featuring Bingata dyeing, one Okinawa’s traditional handicrafts.
The Okinawan Home Cooking Fair was a special event put on at all of the 95 Summit stores. Okinawan music added to the atmosphere and pamphlets featuring recipes were given out to shoppers.
Summit Inc., a supermarket chain operating in the Tokyo metropolitan area and one of Sumitomo's operating companies, provided students with work experience opportunities at its "Okinawan Home Cooking Fair," a special in-store promotion held from Wednesday, July 29 to Sunday, August 2. The program was organized with the cooperation of Okinawa prefecture and the students involved participated by assisting with sales activities at seven stores including the Higashi Terakata store and Kawaguchi Elsa Tower store.
Summit holds the Okinawan Home Cooking Fair every summer to promote Okinawan home cooking, the source of the energy of the Okinawan people, for surviving the summer heat. This year, which marked the 10th anniversary of the event, along with the bitter gourds and other staple ingredients used in Okinawan dishes, buyers purchased local products such as Japanese black cattle beef, blue-fin tuna and special flavored Blue Seal ice cream and other Okinawan confectionery.
The fair has provided the program for Okinawan students since 2008. Speaking the local dialect, students explain Okinawan food to shoppers, emphasizing its appealing taste. The 13 participants taking part in this year's fair included students from Okinawa International University, the University of the Ryukyus and other schools. As part of the program, they were trained in the basics of customer service before working at the stores, where they tackled the task of persuading shoppers to try local specialty products. Following their experience, the students reported their satisfaction with the program, with one commenting, "Seeing Okinawa through the eyes of other people and hearing all the good things they said about it helped me to appreciate my home more."
Some of the students who participated in last year's fair, after weighing up their options, sought full-time employment with Summit Inc. "I hope that when it becomes time for this year's group to enter the workforce, they will benefit from their experience in the program," the fair's organizer said.
( Aug. 07, 2009 )
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