Jeanette Aw, budding pâtissière and Japanese confectioner enthusiast

The actress-turned-director will be filming her third short film 'Senses' in Takasaki, Japan

Jeanette Aw at a pear farm in Takasaki
Jeanette Aw at a pear farm in Takasaki
21 Nov 2018

Jeanette Aw at a pear farm in Takasaki

Photos: J Code

Jeanette Aw is one busy bee. The actress-slash-director-slash-culinary student officially embarked on her ambassador duties for Takasaki, a Japanese city in the Kanto region, after she was announced as its ‘new face’ in September.

She flew in from Bangkok last week, where she is attending a Patisserie course in Le Cordon Bleu Dusit Culinary School, and had a ‘fruitful’ time in the city, visiting its fruit and flower farms and checking out requisite sight-seeing spots like the Byakue Dai-kannon (a huge statue of the Goddess of Mercy), to name a few.

She met a flower farmer who created his own hybrid pansies that had petals in different shapes (only found in Takasaki), and was introduced to more than 20 different varieties of the pear fruit at a farm where she also learned how the low-hanging fruits were harvested.

Of course she had a taste of Takasaki’s famous nashi (pears), sampling not one but three different varieties at the farm. Each had its “own distinct taste and texture,” she said.

Needless to say, she developed a newfound love for the juicy and sweet fruit, and expressed a keen desire to repurpose it in her baking recipes.

(Continued on next page: Why did Jeanette choose Takasaki as the location to film her 3rd short film?)

Filming third short film in Takasaki
Filming third short film in Takasaki
21 Nov 2018

Filming third short film in Takasaki

In fact, the budding director loves the city so much she is planning to film her third short film in Takasaki this December – with a local and Japanese crew. The team in Japan, whom she got to know on the set of Eric Khoo’s Ramen Teh, is currently helping her with logistics and auditions in the country.

The story, said Jeanette, “came by a sudden wave of inspiration” and the places she visited in Takasaki all fit together in the story like jigsaw pieces in a puzzle.

The film is titled ‘Senses’ (or 心境, its Mandarin title) for now, and “is open for interpretation,” she added, promising to reveal more in time to come.

With examinations approaching and planning for her second directorial project well underway, Jeanette also shared that she’s involved in another project which requires her to create a recipe. On top of that, she will also be doing a video shoot as brand ambassador for Le Cordon Bleu Dusit.

She won’t have much time to spend at home in Singapore during the holidays as she’s due to head to Takasaki to film – which may take up to five days or more, depending on the weather conditions in winter.

(Continued on next page: Jeanette on the 'forces of the universe' that keeps bringing her back to Japan)

An unexplained affinity for Japan, especially Takasaki
An unexplained affinity for Japan, especially Takasaki
21 Nov 2018

An unexplained affinity for Japan, especially Takasaki

Work has been bringing Jeanette to the land of the rising sun more frequently than she ever imagined: First, she was in Takasaki for the shoot of Ramen Teh in which she played the protagonist’s late mother, then she returned to the country to film a collage video for Tokyo Cinema Ensemble, and now she’s set to embark on her third directorial project in the country.

Jeanette’s brief stay and interaction with the people in Takasaki left a deep impression on her. “They were simple, kind, generous and extremely hospitable. So many are family-owned businesses, be it in the farms, the F&B shops, even the shrines (now the 27th generation running it). It is also a place with so much history.”

So what does she like best about Takaskai?

“The people and the food,” she said, “They are ever so polite and they welcomed me making me feel right at home. I love how they have their own produce, and how their cooking incorporates fruits and all that they have in their own land. I also love how their pastries are seasonal, using the best and sweetest fruits. They also have traditional Takasaki food that can only be found there. I always think it's very special to have your own distinct dishes.

“There's also a sense of peace and tranquility in Takasaki that I really love.”

As much as she enjoys the local Takasaki food, it was a pillow-y and chewy traditional Japanese sweet called ‘mochi’, made with rice dough, that won her heart during her recent stay in the city.

“I got to try this mochi, only found in Takasaki. This master uses seasonal fruits [for the mochi] and this particular mochi is sold out once it hits the shelves. I’m wondering if he takes in students,” she laughed.

Jeanette Aw, budding pâtissière and Japanese confectioner enthusiast? Sounds like a winning combination to us.

Jeanette Aw and the mayor of Takasaki
Jeanette Aw and the mayor of Takasaki
21 Nov 2018

Jeanette Aw and the mayor of Takasaki

Jeanette Aw at the Takasaki Agriculture Festival
Jeanette Aw at the Takasaki Agriculture Festival
21 Nov 2018

Jeanette Aw at the Takasaki Agriculture Festival

Jeanette Aw at the Takasaki Agriculture Festival
Jeanette Aw at the Takasaki Agriculture Festival
21 Nov 2018

Jeanette Aw at the Takasaki Agriculture Festival

Jeanette Aw is the official ambassador of Takasaki, Japan
Jeanette Aw is the official ambassador of Takasaki, Japan
21 Nov 2018

Jeanette Aw is the official ambassador of Takasaki, Japan

Catch Jeanette in Till We Meet Again from Nov 26 onwards, weeknights, 9pm on Channel 8. Watch the prequel series on Toggle.

Related:
Jeanette Aw is loving life as a student baker
Jeanette Aw’s short film selected for Tokyo’s Short Shorts Film Festival
Jeanette Aw moved to tears by Mark Lee’s acting in ‘Ramen Teh’

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