In 2013 ‘traditional Japanese dietary culture’ (washoku) was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Washoku’s predecessor was ‘national people’s cuisine’, an attempt during the Second World War to create a uniform diet for all citizens. Japan’s Cuisines reveals the diversity of Japanese cuisine and explains how Japan’s modern food culture arose through the direction of private and public institutions. Readers will discover how tea came to be portrayed as the origin of Japanese cuisine, how lunch became a gourmet meal and how regions on Japan’s periphery are reasserting their distinct food cultures.
This is a fascinating book that reveals how the cuisine from the land of the rising sun shapes national, local and personal identity.
‘In Japan’s Cuisines, Eric C. Rath argues that, by focusing on ceremonial and festival foods, and the typical white-rice dinners of today’s middle class and the past’s elites, Japanese culinary history is inaccurately portrayed . . . Rath laments how contemporary definitions of Japanese cuisine only demonstrate “a fraction of Japan’s diverse culinary heritage”.’ – Times Literary Supplement
‘Eric C. Rath’s book, Japan’s Cuisines: Food, Place and Identity, offers a well-informed and lucid critique’ – Huffington Post
‘This wise and richly documented study provides an important corrective to the many misconceptions about Japanese food culture. Rath moves skillfully between high cuisine and the great diversity of local foodways to reveal how class cultures, national institutions, and economic change have shaped what Japanese eat and what most people think of as typical Japanese cuisine.’ – Professor Jordan Sand, Professor of Japanese History, Georgetown University
Eric C. Rath is Professor of Japanese history at the University of Kansas and a leading expert on Japanese food culture. He is the author of Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan, co-editor with Stephanie Assmann of Japanese Foodways Past and Present, and regional editor for the Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets.