Hello Masayo Waki, we are delighted to be able to talk with you! Can you tell us about yourself?
|My entire life has been dedicated to gastronomy and to building bridges between Japan and France, the country I love. From 1977 to 1984, I studied French cuisine at prestigious institutions like the Cordon Bleu, the Tour d’Argent and Maxim’s, which taught me the high standards and excellence synonymous with France. After returning to Japan following this fascinating experience, I became director of the International division of the Hattori Nutrition Cooking School and organised cooking classes by renowned French chefs who were visiting Japan. In 2000, I founded my company Trois Sœurs, which allows me to carry out all of my activities. The name Trois Sœurs was carefully chosen: I have 3 daughters and it was important for me to make a link between my generation and theirs. I am currently director of the cooking school named after me, “Masayo Waki”.|
Here, I work as a food and beverage consultant for Meiji Kinenkan and I have the opportunity to take part in TV shows such as Kyo no Ryori and Asaichi. I have developed a range of kitchen utensils and I also produce cooking videos. Finally, I have also written a number of books, including My Family-Style French Cooking, In Fact, I Love Japanese Cuisine, How to Make Your Daily Bento Quickly and Umeboshi, Tsukemono and Other Foods That Keep Well. As you can see, more than just a profession, cooking is a passion that has always been with me!
What led you to get started on the Web? What triggered it all?
It all clicked when my second daughter came back to Japan after having studied cooking in France (just like me!) for 5 years. She earned a CAP vocational degree in Cooking and Pastry. At that time, cooking video sites like “Tasty” were starting to become popular. My daughter offered my husband and I to set out on a new “cooking video” adventure. To help us move past our hesitations (we didn’t have any cameras or editing equipment), she filmed herself making an omelet, using her smartphone, then did the editing herself. The result was very high quality and both my husband (who worked in image creation at the time) and I quickly got in on the act.
Today, we are very proud to celebrate the third anniversary of our site. There is a Japanese proverb that says “When you start to get old, you must listen to young people.” And that’s exactly what we have done!
What does it change for you and for your audience to appear in videos with your daughter, who is from another generation? How does that impact your editorial line?
My daughter is sensitive to new trends in social media and the way it is used. She brings us an innovative dimension that is in touch with what the younger generations want.
It’s all about being complementary. What I publish on social media is different from what young people publish and I think the real attraction of social media lies precisely in the fact that everyone uses it in different ways.
One of the big generational differences that I have seen is that people of my age tend to edit and correct the videos a lot before publishing them online so that they are as perfect as possible because many users will be watching them. Younger people, on the other hand, put things online very quickly and then correct them afterwards if there are any mistakes. Perhaps it’s the same thing for the content? Young people have the same aims, like us they are sensitive to things that are visually beautiful and original, but they avoid waste and prefer recipes that are easy to make. I think they try to convey in the best possible way their love of the products, their tips to avoid waste and basic recipes.
According to our study, 60% of Japanese seniors use Internet as their main way of finding information on food or nutrition. Do you see this as true?
A long time ago, books were the only way to check information, and we had to go to a library to do research. Today, having a tablet is exactly like having a computer, and allows you to access all types of content, from weather, news and novels to videos, shopping and more. There is, however, no guarantee that this information is truly accurate. We must always remain attentive, check sources and not take everything that is said at face value!
Do you know what share of your audience seniors account for? Is this share on the rise? Does it impact the way you express yourself or your messages? What are they looking for?
I do not publish content on social media that exclusively targets seniors. As well, I do not check the age of the users. So, I don’t know if the number of seniors is increasing or decreasing. Having said this, I think that senior viewers must feel close to and identify with my videos and feel fondness for me. Sometimes, on Instagram, even mundane events of my everyday life create a buzz.
What types of content work best in Japan?
Content related to food, health and beauty care. Travel and pets are also popular topics.
Our study has shown that 86% of Japanese respondents see food as a “means to stay healthy”. Is health an important theme in your work?
Yes, I think it is important because you can only eat if you are in good health. Eating is also a pleasure, so we can’t lay down too many rules. However, you don’t necessarily have to eat foods that are trendy, for their so-called “health benefits”. What’s important is eating a bit of everything, having a balanced diet. As well, I think we have to pay attention to additives in processed products, for example.
As an avid traveller, namely to France, do you get the feeling that Japan is a precursor in terms of its range of foods for seniors?
Many of my French friends who are seniors are cutting down on meat and turning to fish and vegetables. I have never compared meals made specifically for the elderly, but it is also a question of preference and we cannot generalise. On the other hand, in Japan, people tend to reduce the overall quantity of food rather than reduce the quantity of meat. I often hear people say, “Since we can’t eat a lot, let’s eat things that are delicious, but in small quantities”.
We detected a trend in energy foods. Can you talk to us about that?
I’m not interested in products that give energy. I am convinced that if you are capable of eating solid foods, it is better to eat them in the most natural form possible. If you are not able to absorb all of the calories when eating solid foods, that’s a different story.
What is your favourite dish?
Dishes that are delicious, healthy and seasonal. Dishes that are easy to make, even though they don’t need a lot of preparation. However, when I eat out, I am happy to enjoy a dish that has required time and effort.
Do you get the feeling that seniors are open to international cuisine?
I think so. I think they are really fond of things that are rare and delicious.
52% of the Japanese respondents feel they are shown sufficiently in advertising. Do you agree?
I don’t really identify with others. Sometimes, however, when I look at elderly, I realise that I am just about the same age as them.
Are there any senior celebrities that have made an impression on you? Why?
The actress Kirin Kiki, who gave the impression of being a courageous, generous woman even at the end of her life. Sayuri Yoshinaga, who was also a great actress when I was a little girl, and who remains a performer that still makes us dream even as she grows older. I was surprised to learn that she can still swim very long distances.
What are your next challenges?
Staying curious about everything.
Observing and analysing things, then coming to my own conclusions.
Paying forward the benefits I have received throughout my lifetime by helping others.