Why Takuma Asano, a member of Japan’s national soccer team with seven siblings, runs a bakery | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Why Takuma Asano, a member of Japan’s national soccer team with seven siblings, runs a bakery

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In January 2019, when all seven siblings gathered at the family home in Mie Prefecture. From right to left, in order of birth: first son Shoki, second son Shohei, third son Takuma, fourth son Yuya, fifth son Fumiya, sixth son Kaito, and first daughter Koharu (Photo from Takuma Asano’s Instagram: asatakugram)

On March 24, Japan’s national soccer team beat Australia 2-0 away from home to qualify for its seventh consecutive World Cup. Takuma Asano (Bochum, Germany), a regular participant in the Asian qualifiers that began last September, started for the first time since October 7, 2011, against Saudi Arabia and played until the 19th minute of the second half, contributing to the victory that sealed Japan’s World Cup berth.

In the fourth and final qualifying match against Australia on October 12 last year, he fired a shot that led to an own goal, saving coach Kazu Moriyasu, who was certain to be dismissed if the team lost. Asano, who qualified for the World Cup with his mentor from his J-League days in Hiroshima, where Asano began his professional career, is the third of seven siblings and the owner of a high-end bakery in his hometown of Yokkaichi City, Mie Prefecture. His older brother, Shohei, who works as the store manager, spoke of the “family love” in the Asano family.

Asano (second from left) played until the 19th minute of the second half.

When Takuma Asano travels to Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, where he worked out during his high school days, he is struck by an illustration of a family of nine enjoying bread for breakfast. This is Asano ‘s high-end bread store, Asano-no-Rassa, of which he is the owner. His older brother, Shohei, is the store manager and bakes bread every day.

One day, Takuma said to me, ‘Kohei, why don’t you open a bakery with us? At the time, I was working in a job that had nothing to do with bread or food, but I had always loved bread, so I really wanted to try it. Among my many siblings, we were bread lovers, and even after I started working, whenever I found out there was good bread, I would immediately go out and buy it. I was always on the lookout for bread,” says manager Shohei.

Brothers around 2002. At that time, the seventh daughter, Koharu, had not yet been born (courtesy of Shohei).

A large family of seven siblings. Moreover, they were all boys until the seventh girl was born. The image of his mother taking the children to school and eating bread for her own breakfast at the end of the day was burned into Asano’s mind.

She wanted her mother to eat warm, fluffy bread instead of the cold bread she always ate…

It was around this time that Asano met Takuya Kishimoto, a bakery producer for Japan Bakery Marketing (JBM), which has expanded its “high-end bread stores with funny names” to 350 stores in Japan and abroad and is also expanding its number of stores in the Corona Disaster, and this led Asano to give shape to his dim wish. The current form of the bakery was born, with Asano, who lives in Germany, as the owner and Shohei running the store as the manager.

Mie Prefecture is said to be a fierce battleground for high-end bread specialty stores, and Yokkaichi, where Asa no Rasasa is located, is surrounded by many restaurants. The name “Asa no Rasusa” of course means “Asano family style. What kind of innovations did they make in order to survive in this area?

JBM-san has a different recipe for bread for each store. We also aimed to create a bread with a strong local connection by using delicious milk and fermented butter from the Suzuka Mountains, which are the specialties of Yokkaichi and Komono Town.

Asano’s brother, Shohei, is the manager of Asa no Rashisa, a high-end bread store in Yokkaichi, Mie. The signboard is reminiscent of the Asano family’s dining table.

Manager Shohei was originally a soccer goalkeeper, so he was confident in his physical strength. He wakes up early in the morning to prepare the food. He is also good at kneading bread, and now says, “The bread is soft, fluffy, and sweet, even the ears (of the bread) are soft, and it goes well with morning coffee, which is a characteristic of ‘Asa-narashi’ bread. I hope our fans all over the country will discover this taste as well.”

The brothers are separated by a time difference from Bochum, Germany, where Asano continues to play, so they are unable to confirm the taste of their bread online, but they sell an average of 100 loaves a day through their strong teamwork, which is unique to brothers who communicate constantly. However, the recent sharp rise in the price of flour and other raw materials is a headache. As the store manager, he continues his efforts to spread the taste without raising the price.

In addition to maintaining the popularity of the flavor, he has been putting effort into online sales and actively holding events to promote their presence. When the owner, Mr. Asano, temporarily returned to Japan from Germany, the store was visited by fans from all over the country. Although soccer players’ time off is short and they may only be able to stay at their parents’ home for a limited period of time, Asano is willing to go the extra mile if it is for the benefit of his family.

Asano took time out of his short time off to visit the store when he returned to Mie from Germany

Since the opening of Asa no Rashisa in 2020, warm bread has been on the table in the Asano household. His father, Tomoyuki (56), is busy as an active truck driver, and Asano’s one younger brother, Yuya, the fourth son, follows Asano in playing for J1 Hiroshima. The brothers are active in Japan and abroad, and Shohei and Asano are the only ones involved with Asano’s Bakery, but Shohei is happy that his mother, Aneko Miyako, is now able to enjoy the freshly baked bread as well. Manager Shohei reveals, “I’m very happy that my mother, Miyako, can now enjoy freshly baked bread.

Whenever I have time between jobs, I often see my mother on the phone with Takuma [in Germany]. It seems that Takuma is the one who calls her. It seems that he always calls her before a game.”

It is not clear what they are talking about, but for Asano, it may be a “wish” to play well in the games. This is Asano’s sixth year playing overseas. He was not a member of Japan’s national team for the last World Cup in 2018 and was forced to accompany the team as a reserve team member. It is Asano’s long-cherished wish to play in the World Cup in Qatar this November. Asano has never lost heart because of the love of his family, which is deeply engraved in his body from his upbringing in a family of nine members.

Address: 3-5-33 Hinaga-Nishi, Yokkaichi City, Mie Prefecture
Phone: 059-327-7127
Business hours: 10:00-19:00, open year-round

  • Interview, text, and photography Masahiro Kawayanagi

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