Tserova Koria welcomes Japanese visitors to ‘Village Style Bulgarian Yoghurt exhibition’

Veliko Tarnovo is about the 15th largest city in Bulgaria with a population of only 72,000 people.

Tourism however brings over 200,000 visitors to the old capital and continues to grow year on year.

Many of those tourists now desire to see something unique and memorable of the countries they visit and to experience local culture and traditions.

Veliko Tarnovo has long been associated with Japanese tourism and so the ‘Culture, Tourism and International activities Directorate of the municipality of Veliko Tarnovo initiated an idea to include a nearby village to be included in the visitors programme.

Tserova Koria was chosen to host a tour to include an exhibition of the making of  Bulgarian yoghurt ‘village style’

Bulgarian yoghurt is extremely popular in Asia, particularly Japan, because interestingly, the unique blend of bacteria native to Bulgaria ((lactobacillus bulgaricus) cannot be reproduced in other countries, these Asian companies must continuously import new ‘starter cultures’ to create their version of Bulgarian yoghurt.


Stepping off the bus into the wonderful sunny village square of Terova Koria

The Japanese tourists along with their guide Mr Yuji Nakajima were welcomed by mayor, Mr Christo Kunchev and a colourful welcoming party of village ladies dressed in traditional Bulgarian costume

After many greetings and shaking of hands with the smiling and happy guests the party moved into the pensioners club where a table was laden with homemade bread, locally produced honey, herbs and the unique Bulgarian yoghurt

During the ‘food taster’ a wonderful explanation and demonstration of ‘how to make Bulgarian Yoghurt village style’ was given by Christina Bratoeva.

The smiling guests, true to their inquisitive culture, showed much interest in the live show. They also listened intently to the story and history of Yoghurt production

Yoghurt has a long history in this country. Many Bulgarians claim it was accidentally discovered here around 4,000 years ago when nomadic tribes roamed the land. The nomads carried their milk in animal skins, creating a ripe environment for bacteria to grow and cause fermentation, producing yoghurt

After the fascinating yoghurt demonstration, the guests were assisted and dressed in authentic traditional Bulgarian costume. They were then led into the large village theatre where the ladies ‘Svetnitsa’ village choir entertained a delighted audience with melodic Bulgarian folk songs.sang ‘acappella’ style.

After the wonderful recital, a tour of the church of St John and its small museum was conducted. The happy curious guests, supervised by the mayor, also had an opportunity to toll the church bells too!

Gifts of Friendship

Before leaving, each of the guests were presented a small gift of homemade yoghurt as a reminder of their short time with the village.

I’m sure our guests enjoyed the tour very much judging by the smiling, happy faces.

That is what local tourism is much better at, a friendly and more personal connection and experience for the traveller.

In the village square of Tserova koria lit by the warm September sun, people of different cultures met, smiled, laughed, and shared photos. 

On returning home, those visitors will relate their experience of Bulgaria to friends and family and there is no doubt that the village of Tserova Koria will be mentioned with affection for its warm hospitality in those faraway prefectures of Japan.

Author & Photography: Paul Williams

Translator: Francesca James

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