This is something I've heard many times from my professor here in Japan, who recently brought researchers together from across Japan to sell indigenous products, each with its own unique story, at an international conference.
Today, I came across some quantitative evidence to support his words: This site tells the story of a project which began with the question 'does a story raise the objective value of a product?' The leader of the project, an American newspaper columnist called Rob Walker, began by purchasing very cheap, second hand goods, with little or no intrinsic value. He then contacted amateur writers and asked each of them to write a short story involving one of the objects. He then sold the products on eBay. On average, the value of the products rose by 2700%. (That is, according to this article. I couldn't find this figure on the site itself, but after a quick look at some of the examples I don't doubt it.)
So, where is all this going?
Well, reading this reminded me of a conversation I had recently with Takafumi Yokoyama, who does research on edible seaweed in Japan. We talked about making a product that combines 'gifts from the sea' with 'gifts from the mountains' - in short, tsukudani made with seaweed and insects!
- Grasshoppers (Oxya spp.) gathered from rice paddies in central mountainous Japan, and
- Kombu seaweed (Laminaria digitata) gathered from the southern Hokkaido coast, in the North of Japan,
And to add to the story a bit (well, actually because it's the only mirin I have at the moment), I used bara-ichigo mirin: A jug of mirin to which I added wild berries collected from nearby forests. It has been sitting absorbing the wild berry taste for a couple of months now, which gives the mirin such a good taste that it can be drunk alone, like a sweet dessert wine.