Lonely Planet Writer

Copenhagen's Christiania district to host Japanese culinary festival using only ‘waste’ food

In what could be the first food festival of its kind, a month-long Japanese feast is set to take place in Copenhagen’s self-governing district Christiania this June, where all of the dishes will be created using ‘out of date’ food.

Entrance to Christiania, Copenhagen.
Entrance to Christiania, Copenhagen. Image by Pedro Cambra / CC BY 2.0

The event, organised by Japanese ex-pat Maiko Shintani, follows the opening of WeFood, the first supermarket in Denmark to sell only surplus food,which includes items with damaged packaging, and food which is still safe to eat but has expired according to the date stated on the pack. All the ingredients for the festival will be sourced from the store, which is run by volunteers aiming to challenge current perceptions about food safety and therefore reduce food waste.

Throughout the month, visitors to the Itadakimasu in Christiania festival will have the opportunity to try a variety of Japanese dishes, learn how to make sushi, take part in Japanese language workshops and try their hand at origami. Individual events are priced separately, with prices ranging from free to 50Dkr.

Speaking of her choice of location for the festival, Shintani, a researcher with the Christiania Researcher in Residence (CRIR) programme, told The Local, “I got to know that Christiania has a long history for recycling and reusing materials to stop waste. In Japan, we have a word that conveys a sense of regret concerning waste. Mottainai means roughly ‘what a waste!’ in English. It seems we have common philosophy between Christiania and Japan.”

Christiania mural.
Free Town, Christiania mural. Image by Tony Webster / CC BY 2.0

The Free Town of Christiania was created in the early seventies by squatters who wanted to create an alternative society. While it’s still the subject of some controversy – most notably because of its relaxed attitude towards marijuana, at odds with Danish law – the 34-hectare district is home to restaurants, bars, artists’ workshops and nature trails.

Itadakimasu in Christiania runs from 1-28 June.