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Spanning nearly six hundred years of Japanese food culture, Japanese Foodways, Past and Present considers the production, consumption, and circulation of Japanese foods from the mid-fifteenth century to the present day in contexts that are political, economic, cultural, social, and religious. Diverse contributors—including anthropologists, historians, sociologists, a tea master, and a chef—address a range of issues such as medieval banquet cuisine, the tea ceremony, table manners, cookbooks in modern times, food during the U.S. occupation period, eating and dining out during wartimes, the role of heirloom vegetables in the revitalization of rural areas, children's lunches, and the gentrification of blue-collar foods.
Framed by two reoccurring themes—food in relation to place and food in relation to status—the collection considers the complicated relationships between the globalization of foodways and the integrity of national identity through eating habits. Focusing on the consumption of Western foods, heirloom foods, once-taboo foods, and contemporary Japanese cuisines, Japanese Foodways, Past and Present shows how Japanese concerns for and consumption of food has relevance and resonance with other foodways around the world.
Contributors are Stephanie Assmann, Gary Soka Cadwallader, Katarzyna Cwiertka, Satomi Fukutomi, Shoko Higashiyotsuyanagi, Joseph R. Justice, Michael Kinski, Barak Kushner, Bridget Love, Joji Nozawa, Tomoko Onabe, Eric C. Rath, Akira Shimizu, George Solt, David E. Wells, and Miho Yasuhara.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780252035630
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Publication date: 10/07/2010
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Eric C. Rath is an associate professor of history at the University of Kansas and the author of The Ethos of Noh: Actors and Their Act. Stephanie Assmann is a lecturer at Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan, and the author of Value Change and Social Stratification in Japan: Aspects of Women's Consumer Behaviour.

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Copyright © 2010 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-252-07752-4



WITH SUSHI NOW AVAILABLE in many European and American supermarkets, more people outside of Japan have become aware of Japanese foods—or at least some interpretations of them, like the "California (sushi) roll." At the same time in Japan, more Japanese have greater access than ever before to foreign cuisines such as Chinese, Korean, French, and Italian, and to domesticated versions like the "curry doughnut" to the point that "multiculturalism is the defining feature of the culinary scene in contemporary Japan," as one of our contributors to this volume, Katarzyna Cwiertka, noted in her recent book, Modern Japanese Cuisine (2006, 7). Japanese food demonstrates an incredible diversity, from the blue-collar worker's steaming bowl of ramen noodles to the multicourse kaiseki meals served at elite restaurants, from lovingly crafted bento box lunches that use heirloom vegetables to dishes like crane soup found in centuries-old cookbooks to delicate modern confectionery. Both the commonplace and the unfamiliar parts of Japanese food have compelling stories to tell that shed light on life in Japan, past and present.

Globalization has brought increasing familiarity with foreign foods in both Japan and abroad, but the term foodways in the title of our book deserves some explanation. Foodways can be defined in terms of the eating habits of a people, of a historical time period, or of a region. But the term also serves as an indication that there is something more to food than just food. Food is essential to so many facets of human life that it is hard to list all the "ways." We can consider production, consumption, and circulation of foods in the concept of foodways as well as political, economic, cultural, social, and religious dimensions to these. If we consider the subject chronologically, we can add disjunctures and continuities in practices, beliefs, and habits surrounding foods. Our contributors demonstrate that food in these systems and contexts casts light on a range of larger issues—from foreign policy to traditional medicine to perceptions of other countries to understandings of the past. Accordingly, rather than delimit foodways by disclaimers and jargon, in this book we have chosen to examine food from the broadest possible perspective, leaving the individual authors—who include a tea master and a chef as well as scholars from the disciplines of history, anthropology, and sociology—the opportunity to define their own terms in their discussions of specific moments and corners in past and present Japan.

Despite this interdisciplinary approach, we address two reoccurring themes in this book that can best be described as food in relation to status and place. Postwar Japan has long been perceived as the only non-Western industrialized nation whose society shows minor status differences: Some 90 percent of Japanese consider themselves to be middle class! However, sociologists point out that status differences do exist in the forms of income discrepancies and social mobility, and these are also pertinent issues in Western industrialized nations. Regarding the current sociological discourse on the so-called gap society (kakusa shakai), two recent works written by Japanese sociologists that discuss status discrepancies from the perspectives of income and intergenerational mobility are noteworthy. In his book Economic Discrepancies in Japan from the Perspective of Income and Property (Nihon no keizai kakusa: Shotoku to shisan kara kangaeru, 1998), the sociologist Tachibanaki Toshiaki has argued that based on analysis of the Gini coefficient, which measures the degree of income inequality in a nation, income discrepancies are increasing in Japan. Sociologist Sato Toshiki has described the "pedigree society" (gakureki shakai) in his book Unequal Society Japan: Goodbye Middle Class (Fubyodo shakai Nihon: Sayonara sochuryu, 2000) and found that there is a strong correlation between the professional occupation of the father and the professional occupation of the son, suggesting that social intergenerational mobility is less pronounced in Japan than had been assumed. Both works analyze the decay of the Japanese "middle class" and argue that social inequality is increasing in Japan.

Despite this fear of growing social inequality in Japanese society, consumption practices of middle-class Japanese remain powerful tools for analyzing subtle status differences. Using Pierre Bourdieu's concept of cultural capital and applying this concept to the Japanese "middle class," the sociologist John Clammer writes in Contemporary Urban Japan: A Sociology of Consumption that consumers who are part of the same economic position construct their "class consciousness" around consumption habits, which allows them to accumulate cultural capital and to engage in a symbolic competition (Clammer 1997, 103-5). In other words, Japanese are increasingly defining themselves by their habits of consumption: shaping their personas and designating their personal status and group affiliation by what they buy.

The complicated relationship between the globalization of foodways and the integrity of national identity through maintaining eating habits is the second theme in our volume. Globalization has led to the increasing popularity of Japanese culinary specialties abroad and to the embrace of foreign cuisines in Japan; but globalization has also evoked consciousness of the erosion of national identity, of which foodways are an essential part. For example, our contributors identify foreign foodways that have been domesticated and native foodways that are currently being "rediscovered" as a means to counteract Japan's low food self-sufficiency rate and to assuage fears of food safety. By using food as a tool to analyze status differences on the one hand and the relationship between globalization and national identity on the other, we hope to provide insights to these crucial issues for an audience beyond Japan specialists.

Chronologically, this book is divided into three sections. The first section covers the mid-fifteenth through the late nineteenth centuries, corresponding to the late medieval (1450-1600) and early modern periods (1600-1868). This historical span overlaps with the traditional periodization of the Muromachi (1336-1573), Momoyama (1573-1600), and Edo or Tokugawa period (1600-1868). The second part focuses on modern Japan from the Meiji period (1868-1912) through the mid-1950s. The third and last section investigates food issues in contemporary Japan in the period since the 1950s.

The writers hope that this volume will contribute to illuminating the long history of Japanese foodways and spur additional English-language research on food in Japan, particularly for the premodern era. While a growing number of scholars—especially in anthropology (see Ashkenazi and Jacob 2000; Bestor 2004; and Cwiertka 2005, 2006) but also in Japanese literature (for instance, Aoyama 2008)—have taken up the topic of food in modern and contemporary Japan, studies of Japanese foodways in English focusing on the period before the twentieth century lag, notwithstanding a few seminal works such as the historical survey of Naomichi Ishige (2001) and anthropologist Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney's (1993) meditation on rice and identity over the course of Japanese civilization. Agriculture has been an enduring interest for historians of all periods, but our impression from these studies is that primary attention is given to the political welfare of the peasants and secondarily to farming methods. In other words, food as the object of production often takes a back seat to the monetary value of the harvest itself, which is an important dimension given that rice and other grains were used as currency and to pay tribute in premodern Japan, but it is only one aspect of food production to the point that we only rarely glimpse what and how people ate and how they thought about food. Most of the previous research on dining in premodern Japan has focused on the elite kaiseki cuisine of the tea ceremony (for example, Kumakura 1989, 55-59). Susan Hanley's (1997) survey of the physical well-being of people in the early modern period includes important data about diet. And a translation of the research of the historian of Japanese culture Nishiyama Matsunosuke's work (1997) describes some of the pleasures of dining as well as the pains of famine in the same era. However, all of these topics await further exploration for the premodern period, and we hope to point out some directions for future studies with this book.


Japan enjoys a long culinary history, and the chapters in this section survey prominent styles of cooking in late medieval and early modern Japan, including honzen ryori used for formal banquets, meals served for tea events (chakai) called kaiseki, and Iberian foods and methods of cooking them called "Southern Barbarian cuisine" (nanban ryori). One chapter describes the earliest history of Japan's love of European wine, and another sheds light on one of the most contentious issues in the history of the Japanese diet: the extent to which Japanese ate beef and other meats before the opening to the West in the late nineteenth century when meat-eating became more widely accepted and popularized.

In chapter 1, Eric Rath describes the formula used for laying out dishes on trays that comprise the structure of a honzen meal—a style of dining that began with elite samurai in the 1400s and spread to wealthier commoners in the early modern period. He compares the creation of a honzen meal to the art of writing poetry since both relied on structure and literary imagery for effect. Rath shows how food could be used for artistic and intellectual stimulation, two parameters apart from modern nationalism that can be used to distinguish a cuisine from ordinary modes of eating. Yet, in contrast to modern Japanese cuisine, honzen ryori was a banquet cuisine that found its highest expression in meals reserved for the military and aristocratic elites. Therefore, it remained an elite practice in its more elaborate form but one whose rules could be applied, adapted, and aspired to by different status groups.

The diffusion of elite customs to a wider audience extended to table manners for honzen meals as well other rules of etiquette as described by Michael Kinski in chapter 2. Kinski indicates that in contrast to medieval collections of rules of behavior and custom written for high-ranking samurai, early modern books of etiquette and table manners transcended status boundaries, at least for the people who were educated enough to read about them, in that they spoke to a general readership. Manners are one of the elements in "culinary culture," but in Kinski's analysis we see also that food and dining were viewed in the early modern period as important to perceptions of self in terms of gender, body consciousness, and maintenance of relationships with other people. The history of food-etiquette books indicates the evolution of written, "nonjuridical norms for social intercourse." This development is all the more remarkable for the fact that its stimulus was from wealthier and more educated sections of the commoner population rather than being imposed from above.

Kaiseki ryori, foods served to accompany tea gatherings, is the subject of chapter 3 by Gary S. Cadwallader and Joseph R. Justice. Their translations of a range of kaiseki menus from the period remind us that this refined style of food preparation and eating once had many variant approaches. On the one hand, practitioners of the "rustic tea" (wabicha) of Sen no Rikyu (1522-91) favored simple and small servings of food befitting the way of writing kaiseki ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]) with the Chinese characters that refer to the monk's warm rock tucked inside the robe on a cold night to stave off hunger. On the other hand, regional lord (daimyo) devotees of tea masters Furuta Oribe (1544-1615) and Kobori Enshu (1579-1647) preferred more lavish meals, reflecting an older way of writing kaiseki ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.])—literally "meeting and sitting" together, which can be loosely translated as "banquet." Connections with other styles of eating are evident in both forms of kaiseki. Like honzen ryori, both forms of kaiseki meals are served on trays and require the observance of elaborate rules to eat. Tea masters were earlier exponents of Iberian (nanban) sweets, which appear occasionally in the translated menus in this chapter. Though not completely vegetarian since they make use of fowl and fish, tea menus—especially the simplified ones of one soup and three side dishes (ichiju sansai) of the wabicha masters—excluded beef, revealing the influence of vegetarian (shojin) cooking (Harada 1989, 17). The simplified "stones for the belly" version of kaiseki has come to dominate tea practice since the Meiji period (1868-1912), but Cadwallader and Justice's chapter indicates that was not an automatic or uncontested decision in the early modern period (Kumakura 2002, 17).

Both the honzen and kaiseki serving styles eschewed the use of beef and other meat. Yet samurai hunted boar and deer as part of their military training, occasionally chasing and killing these animals on shrine and temple grounds (Ishikawa 1988, 43). However, when it came time to plan formal banquets for samurai, their chefs and tea masters preferred the use of game fowl and fish, judging by the contents of medieval culinary texts (ryorisho) written beginning in the mid-fifteenth century. More widely in society, it seems that beef and other meats were eaten up to the dawn of the early modern period, although the extent to which this occurred is still a subject of scholarly debate (Kumakura 2002, 173).

The reasons for meat consumption and avoidance were complicated and are the subject of chapter 4 by Akira Shimizu. Some gourmands in the early modern period believed that eating meat was poisonous: it literally "turned one's mouth around" (kuchi ga magaru) (Harada 2003, x); but meat, Shimizu explains, was also one of the earliest health foods "eaten for medicinal reasons" (kusuri gui). Shimizu challenges notions of Japanese scholars, including Harada Nobuo, who find the avoidance of meat to be central to the definition of foodways in the early modern period (Harada 2004, 13), arguing that the debate over meat consumption was more ambivalent. Food scholars such as Matsushita Sachiko have recognized that despite new prohibitions, consumption of domesticated and wild animals continued in that period, and the meat of these animals was sold openly in city "beast markets" (momonjiya) (Matsushita 1998, 139-40). Shimizu presents a portrait of one such market to examine the place of meat-eating in the foodways of early modern cities. He explores the writings of supporters and detractors of the beast market, revealing how views regarding meat consumption changed over the course of the early modern period.

Western and Chinese visitors to Japan consumed beef, pork, and other meats, and meat's association with foreign culture was one of the reasons many Japanese avoided it, but it was also one of its attractions; and this was also true for Western alcoholic beverages like wine. Iberian missionaries, who by some estimates converted approximately 300,000 Japanese to Christianity before being banned from Japan in the first decades of the seventeenth century, consumed beef and chicken, as did many of their converts. Warlord Hosokawa Tadaoki (1563-1645), whose wife Gracia (1563-1600) was a famous convert, ate beef and showed a fascination for Iberian foods until later in his career when he began to persecute Christians enforcing government edicts against them (Ego 2004, 17-19). Despite the banishment of the Portuguese in 1639 and the earlier withdrawal of the Spanish from Japan in 1624, Iberian sweets like Castilian cake (kasutera) and sugar candies (konpeito, aruheito) became favorites in Japanese confectionery. By their foreign associations, meat, wine, and Iberian confectionery can be lumped into the category of the Southern Barbarian style of foods (nanban ryori), which became a catchall in the early modern era—though a loosely defined one—for foreign-sounding foods or methods of preparation.


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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction Eric C. Rath Stephanie Assmann 1

Part I Early Modern Japan

1 Honzen Dining: The Poetry of Formal Meals in Late Medieval and Early Modern Japan Eric C. Rath 19

2 "How to Eat the Ten Thousand Things": Table Manners in the Edo Period Michael Kinski 42

3 "Stones for the Belly": Kaiseki Cuisine for Tea during the Early Edo Period Gary Soka Cadwallader Joseph R. Justice 68

4 Meat-eating in the Kojimachi District of Edo Akira Shimizu 92

5 Wine-drinking Culture in Seventeenth-century Japan: The Role of Dutch Merchants Joji Nozawa 108

Part II Modern Japan

6 The History of Domestic Cookbooks in Modern Japan Shoko Higashiyotsuyanagi 129

7 Imperial Cuisines in Taisho Foodways Barak Kushner 145

8 Beyond Hunger: Grocery Shopping, Cooking, and Eating in 1940s Japan Katarzyna Cwiertka Miho Yasuhara 166

9 Ramen and U.S. Occupation Policy George Solt 186

10 Bento: Boxed Love, Eaten by the Eye Tomoko Onabe 201

Part III Contemporary Japan

11 Mountain Vegetables and the Politics of Local Flavor in Japan Bridget Love 221

12 Reinventing Culinary Heritage in Northern Japan: Slow Food and Traditional Vegetables Stephanie Assmann 243

13 Ramen Connoisseurs: Class, Gender, and the Internet Satomi Fukutomi 257

14 Irretrievably in Love with Japanese Cuisine David E. Wells 275

Contributors 285

Index 289

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