Chinese-style pot-stickers, known generically in Japan as gyoza whether they are prepared by frying, steaming or boiling, are bite-size dumplings containing pork, Chinese cabbage, garlic and other ingredients. The cities of Utsunomiya and Hamamatsu have been engaged in a seesaw battle for the title of the nation's biggest per capita consumer of gyoza.
Last February, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced that in 2018 the average household in Hamamatsu consumed 3,501 yen worth of gyoza, nudging out Utsunomiya, in 2nd place with 3,241 yen.
Shukan Jitsuwa (5/9-16) reports that gyoza have been enjoying a boom of late among young Japanese women.
"In many people's minds, gyoza are associated with middle-aged men," says a worker at a gyoza specialty shop. "But more recently it's become common to see young women drop in by themselves for lunch. More have been coming alone in the evenings as well, and just ordering a gyoza and beer."
A food critic credits the recent boom in gyoza to singer-songwriter Chiharu Tamashiro.
"All over Japan more women have been going out to eat gyoza," he tells the magazine. "The media has begun calling them gyoza joshi (gyoza girls), and their numbers appear to be on the rise."
Not surprisingly, gyoza have become a hot topic inline, and a new term -- gyojo -- has been coined to describe fanatical female aficionados of the dish.
"I've become fixated on the gyoza that people are posting on social media," a college coed named Naomi is quoted as saying. "These days I've been prowling through SNSs to hunt for gyoza specialty shops where I can go to eat."
One explanation for the appearance of these gyojo is that over the last several years more women have become involved in planning the menus or meals at food service outlets. For example, Gyoza no Ohsama, a major national chain of Chinese restaurants, introduced a "Gal's Group Plan" that includes a beverage and unlimited volume of gyoza (with a time limit) for a flat 1,800 yen. Other gyoza specialty shops -- call them gyoza boutiques if you will -- have been opening in central Tokyo.
"Some of these offer garlic-free gyoza or healthy 'salad gyoza' on their menus, so they're more conducive to going there with a date," a female office worker in her 20s tells the magazine.
Interestingly, the gyoza boom seems to be having repercussions beyond the food and beverage industry. The organizer of konkatsu parties, held with the aim of matching up young couples who are looking for a spouse, says, "Gyoza have become a popular aspect of the marriage market. We've noticed that whenever we hold events like gyoza-making workshops or matchmaking parties with gyoza on the menu, they are quickly sold out. So it's come to the point that gyoza have become one of the dominant aspects of our various activities."
During Golden Week, "Gyoza Festa" events have been organized in the cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Hiroshima. In Tokyo the event will be held from May 2 through May 6 at Komazawa Park, Setagaya-ku. The cost of entry, with an all-you-can-eat deal, is 2,500 yen. This link (in Japanese only) has more information about operating hours and other conditions: https://www.gyo-zafes.jp/tokyo-2019© Japan Today