Work: Fattoria Bio Hokkaido

Hometown: Strongoli, Italy

Arrived: 2013

Italian cheesemaker Giovanni Graziano loves Hokkaido for the bounty of high-quality ingredients available – and its delicious ramen.

A long conversation with Elio Orsara, founder of Fattoria Bio Hokkaido, provided the catalyst for Giovanni Graziano’s move to Japan in 2013. “He convinced me to become the first Italian to introduce Japanese people to the world of Italian cheese culture,” says Graziano, who now crafts awardwinning cheeses using high-quality milk from Hokkaido.
In a prefecture renowned for its abundance of produce, Sapporo and its rich food scene have proven the perfect match for Graziano. “The local way of life is much quieter than it is in Tokyo,” he says. “I love the quality of food and the fish is always so fresh.” Gourmet delights aside, Graziano lists the diverse mix of architecture and green spaces such as Maruyama Park among his favourite parts of the city.

The quality of life in Hokkaido has come with an added sense of security. Experiencing a significant earthquake in September 2018 reinforced Graziano’s belief that, compared to western countries, Japan is better prepared to overcome the challenges posed by natural disasters. “The Japanese try to solve problems in the fastest way possible, trying to find alternative methods to the normal resolutions,” he says. The cheesemaker was also impressed to see initiatives in place, such as shops limiting individual purchases to provide access for all, that ensured life returned to normal as quickly as possible.