Devouring Japan: Global Perspectives on Japanese Culinary Identity
Devouring Japan: Global Perspectives on Japanese Culinary Identity

Devouring Japan: Global Perspectives on Japanese Culinary Identity

Nancy K. Stalker
  • Original essays by leading food historians and leading scholars of Japanese history, literature, and anthropology
  • Examines the role of Japanese foods in regional, national, and international identities
  • Addresses the current fashionability of Japanese food globally

In recent years Japan's cuisine, or washoku, has been eclipsing that of France as the world's most desirable food. UNESCO recognized washoku as an intangible cultural treasure in 2013 and Tokyo boasts more Michelin-starred restaurants than Paris and New York combined. International enthusiasm for Japanese food is not limited to haute cuisine; it also encompasses comfort foods like ramen, which has reached cult status in the U.S. and many world capitals. Together with anime, pop music, fashion, and cute goods, cuisine is part of the "Cool Japan" brand that promotes the country as a new kind of cultural superpower.

This collection of essays offers original insights into many different aspects of Japanese culinary history and practice, from the evolution and characteristics of particular foodstuffs to their representation in literature and film, to the role of foods in individual, regional, and national identity. It features contributions by both noted Japan specialists and experts in food history. 

The authors collectively pose the question "what is washoku?" What culinary values are imposed or implied by this term? Which elements of Japanese cuisine are most visible in the global gourmet landscape and why? Essays from a variety of disciplinary perspectives interrogate how foodways have come to represent aspects of a "unique" Japanese identity and are infused with official and unofficial ideologies. They reveal how Japanese culinary values and choices, past and present, reflect beliefs about gender, class, and race; how they are represented in mass media; and how they are interpreted by state and non-state actors, at home and abroad. They examine the thoughts, actions, and motives of those who produce, consume, promote, and represent Japanese foods.


Introduction: Japanese Culinary Capital- Nancy K. Stalker
Part I: Japan's Culinary Brands and Identities
Historical Culinary Identities
Ch. 1. Japanese Food in the Early Modern European Imagination- Ken Albala
Ch. 2. Gifting Melons to the Shining Prince: Food in the Late Heian Court Imagination- Takeshi Watanabe
Ch. 3. Soba, Edo style: Food, Aesthetics, and Cultural Identity- Lorie Brau
Ch. 4. Three Waves (and Ways) of Sake Appreciation in the West- Dick Stegewerns
Culinary Nationalism and Branding
Ch. 5. Washoku, Far and Near: UNESCO, Gastrodiplomacy and the Cultural Politics of Traditional Japanese Cuisine - Theodore C. Bestor
Ch. 6. "We Can Taste but Others Cannot": Umami as an Exclusively Japanese Concept- Yoshimi Osawa
Ch. 7. Rosanjin the Epicurean: Roots of a Gourmet Nation- Nancy K. Stalker
Regional and International Variations 
Ch. 8. Savoring the Kyoto Brand- Greg de St. Maurice
Ch. 9. "LOVE! SPAM!" Food, Military, and Empire in Post-World War II Okinawa- Mire Koikari
Ch. 10. Nikkei Cuisine: How Japanese Food Travels and Adapts Abroad- Ayumi Takenaka
Part II: Japan's Food-Related Values 
Food and Individual Identity
Ch. 11. Miso Mama: How Meals Make the Mother in Contemporary Japan- Amanda Seaman
Ch. 12. Better than Sex?: Masaoka Shiki's Foodie Haiku- J. Keith Vincent
Ch. 13. The Devouring Empire: Food and Memory in Hayashi Fumiko's Wartime Narratives and Naruse Mikio's Films- Noriko Horiguchi
Food Anxieties 
Ch. 14. Eating Amid Affluence: Kaik? Takeshi's Adventures in Food- Bruce Suttmeier
Ch. 15. An Anorexic in Miyazaki's Land of Cockaigne: Excess and Abnegation in Spirited Away - Susan Napier
Ch. 16. Discarding Cultures: Social Critiques of Food Waste in an Affluent Japan- Eiko Siniawer
Ch. 17. The Unbearable, Endless Anxiety of Eating: Food Consumption in Japan after 3.11- Faye Kleeman
Afterword: Foods of Japan, Not Japanese Foods- Eric C. Rath


Nancy Stalker is the Soshitsu Sen XV Distinguished Professor of Traditional Japanese Culture and History at University of Hawai'i at Manoa. She is author of numerous articles and books on Japanese history and culture, including Japan: History and Culture from Classical to Cool. She loves to eat and cook foods of all kinds.


Ken Albala--University of the Pacific 
Theodore C. Bestor--Harvard University
Lorie Brau--University of New Mexico
Greg de St. Maurice--University of Pittsburgh
Noriko J. Horiguchi--University of Tennessee
Faye Yuan Kleeman--University of Colorado
Mire Koikari--University of Hawaii at Manoa
Susan Napier--Tufts University
Yoshimi Osawa--Kyoto University and Kyoto University ASEAN Center, Bangkok
Eric C. Rath--University of Kansas 
Eiko Maruko Siniawer--Williams College
Amanda Seaman--University of Massachusetts Amherst
Nancy K. Stalker--University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Dick Stegewerns--University of Oslo
Bruce Suttmeier--Lewis & Clark College
Ayumi Takenaka--Aston University 
J. Keith Vincent--Boston University
Takeshi Watanabe--Wesleyan University

"Devouring Japan offers radical new insights into the complex and fascinating world of Japanese food. It is a timely reminder of how important the paradoxical Japanese model of simplicity along with media celebrity has become to the new post-Francophone gastronomy. It is peppered with insightful chapters on the propaganda value of umami and washoku that allowed Japanese cuisine to enter the great council of good taste in a new global hierarchy. A much needed intervention in the politics and poetics of good taste in the 21st century."--Krishnendu Ray, author of The Ethnic Restaurateur

"This volume contains a world of wisdom about Japanese food from scholars of literature, history, and social sciences. Its strength lies in the geographical and cultural diversity of its writers and themes and its importance is in setting Japanese food in multiple frames of meaning--not only as it has been 'inscribed' with national, spiritual, cultural, and aesthetic value but also as it has been, more importantly for its global audiences, given worth and value in food trucks, in street stalls, and in outlier interpreters of its essences. Far from the sanctity of culinary gods and 'authenticity' altars, the book encourages us to slurp and chew--and learn."--Merry White, author of Coffee Life in Japan


ISBN : 9780190240417

Nancy K. Stalker
368 ページ
156 x 235 mm





Devouring Japan: Global Perspectives on Japanese Culinary Identity

Devouring Japan: Global Perspectives on Japanese Culinary Identity

Devouring Japan: Global Perspectives on Japanese Culinary Identity