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How to determine provenience of an item (Japan/Korea/China) ?

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some items are not "exclusive" from an area: for instance it's possible to find kombu and katshuobushi originating from both Japan and Korea, so I usually try to determine where the item is from.

Until very recently the strategy I used to determine the provenience of an item at the Asian store was to check for the internet address (which is usually present) and check whether it ends with jp, ch or kr.

However I recently noticed that I brought an item which had a link to a Japanese web address, but the extra label applied by the shop says: origin: China. See the attached photo for the product:

2011-09-25 17.00.46.jpg

It cannot be seen in this specific package (as the label is covering it), but there is a link to www.shin-shin.co.jp, which is the manufacturer of the item. I knew this because I brought this item before and it did not have the extra label applied by the shop covering the link.

Do you have any idea of how the staff determined that the item was in fact from China? Is it written anywhere on the package?

In general, I would find very useful if someone could post the Japanese symbols corresponding to origin, Japan, China and Korea, to help me understanding the products better in the future.

Thank you in advance for any comments/help on this strange issue ;)

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Thank you very much for your reply.

However in the picture I only spot 中国, so can the last symbol (の) be occasionally dropped from "China" as well?

At this point I am interested in what the symbols on left of 中国 mean exactly. I browsed their website (reported above) and it's clearly a Japanese company with HQ at Tokyo, so I am confused about the Chinese origin of the product.

Could it refer to the raw materials (cucumbers) only?

Thanks again!

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However in the picture I only spot 中国, so can the last symbol (の) be occasionally dropped from "China" as well?

Right. 中国, or 中國 (simplified vs. traditional characters) is "China" (zhōngguó in pinyin) in Chinese.

I think in the US, country of origin is supposed to be specified somewhere on the product (in English). The label with English language ingredients is usually applied by the importer, not the shop, so it's possible that the shop is acting as an importer in this context.

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However in the picture I only spot 中国, so can the last symbol (の) be occasionally dropped from "China" as well?

Right. 中国, or 中國 (simplified vs. traditional characters) is "China" (zhōngguó in pinyin) in Chinese.

I think in the US, country of origin is supposed to be specified somewhere on the product (in English). The label with English language ingredients is usually applied by the importer, not the shop, so it's possible that the shop is acting as an importer in this context.

You are correct. Country of origin must be on the label in English.

Provenance is not usually used as a term for foods - except for wine. Sourcing is the usual term "to obtain from a particular source."

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Somewhat related to this, I've noticed that all the nori for sale that I've seen, despite being labelled in Japanese, and produce by a Japanese company, says Product of China on it. Is Japanese-made nori exported?

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You will find many "Japanese" products that are either made/manufactured/processed in China or made in Japan using Chinese products. Not only for sale overseas but in Japan as well. Anything that is made in Japan with Japanese ingredients is going to much more expensive that it's made in China counterpart. So if you are seeing a wide range of prices on the shelves the more expensive things will most likely be Japanese made.

These particular pickles that you bought were processed in China for the Japanese market and then imported by the company Shin Shin.

in Japanese your package says:

原産国名:中国

Country of manufacture: China

輸入者:新進

Importer: Shin Shin

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To relate, I have this problem all the time with crawfish. We have had a huge drought this last year and I've had to get a magnifying glass out to see the baby print "product of" fill in the blank, mainly asian_. I mean, they'll label it Boudreaux's for God's sake! No shame.

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You are correct. Country of origin must be on the label in English.

Provenance is not usually used as a term for foods - except for wine. Sourcing is the usual term "to obtain from a particular source."

In the UK I am not sure it's the case. Some packages are missing any information, while some others just says "Imported by..." and no other origin-related info. Ingredients are mostly present instead.

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You will find many "Japanese" products that are either made/manufactured/processed in China or made in Japan using Chinese products. Not only for sale overseas but in Japan as well. Anything that is made in Japan with Japanese ingredients is going to much more expensive that it's made in China counterpart. So if you are seeing a wide range of prices on the shelves the more expensive things will most likely be Japanese made.

These particular pickles that you bought were processed in China for the Japanese market and then imported by the company Shin Shin.

in Japanese your package says:

原産国名:中国

Country of manufacture: China

輸入者:新進

Importer: Shin Shin

First of all, thank you all for your replies! :)

This reply raise an interesting point, what happens if a product is made in Japan using Chinese products? Would this still qualify as Japanese (that would be my guess)?

In fact (for example) some Italian tomato sauces, from Italian brands, reports "Made with Italian tomatoes", which means that in general you cannot safely assume it :P

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Somewhat related to this, I've noticed that all the nori for sale that I've seen, despite being labelled in Japanese, and produce by a Japanese company, says Product of China on it. Is Japanese-made nori exported?

Most of the cheaper Nori now sold is of Chinese manufacture and not exported by Japan to China. I find that even the Korean Nori is inferior to Japanese Nori. Japanese Nori can still be obtained at places like Mitsuwa but you will pay a premium price. I see this happening across the board.

I shop frequently at places like Mitsuwa and H-Mart.

Not to offend anyone but in order of quality I find its Japanese, Korean and then Chinese for comparable items. But there are some Chinese items for which there is no substitute and quality is usually good.-Dick

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