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216 × 138 mm
240 pages
89 illustrations
01 Dec 2006
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Modern Japanese Cuisine Food, Power and National Identity Katarzyna J. Cwiertka

Over the last decade the popularity of Japanese food in the West has increased immeasurably, contributing to the continuing diversification of Western eating habits; but Japanese cuisine itself has evolved significantly since pre-modern times. This book explores the origins of Japanese cuisine as we know it today, investigating the transformations and developments food culture in Japan has undergone since the late nineteenth century.

Among the key factors in the shift in Japanese eating habits were the dietary effects of imperialism, reforms in military catering and home cooking, wartime food management and the rise of urban gastronomy. Japan’s patchwork of diverse regional cuisines became homogenized over time and was replaced by a set of foods and practices with which the majority of Japanese today ardently identify. This book demonstrates that Japanese cuisine as it is currently understood and valued, in spite of certain inevitable historical influences, is primarily a modern invention concocted in the midst of the turbulent events of the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries.

Katarzyna J. Cwiertka is a recognized expert on the subject of Japanese cuisine and its modern history, and this book is a result of more than a decade of research. It also includes a section on the spread of Japanese food and restaurants in Western countries.

Modern Japanese Cuisine will be of interest to the general reader interested in Japanese culture and society, as well as to a more specialized audience, such as scholars of Japan, anthropologists and food historians.

‘a gold mine of fascinating data . . . well worth reading’ – The Daily Yomiuri

Modern Japanese Cuisine is one of those rare scholarly books that should appeal to the palate of the general literary omnivore as well as to the more specialized tastes of the professional scholar . . . well-researched and concise.’ – Monumenta Nipponica

‘Culinary history has opened up new perspectives in the study of culture, technology, economics, and politics as well as other fields. Katarzyna Cwiertka’s recent work is a lucid example of such a treatment of history through foodways, clarifying, on the one hand, ideas of nationalism and ideologies of identity, and, on the other, from the ground up, cultural understandings of taste and human behavior . . . This is a work to read and reread as the detail is so rich. This deeply engaged treatment of Japanese modernizing foodways underscores the power of producers, marketers, and policymakers, along with ordinary consumers, in an interactive system of nutritional and cultural production and consumption.’ – Journal of Japanese Studies

‘This book is a fascinating study of Japanese food, focusing on the important historical processes shaping the dietary system of modern Japan. It is well organized, and provides a clear, chronological overview of modern Japanese history in terms of the meals that ordinary Japanese digested in the latter half of the nineteenth through the twentieth century.’ – Asian Anthopology

‘Though properly scholarly, [Modern Japanese Cuisine] is also juicy in details’ – Japan Times

‘As the first academic book on the history of Japanese cuisine in English, this pioneering work will be with us as a basis for some time to come as we are filling in our gaps in knowledge and understanding in the newly emerging fields of consumption and the history of daily life.’ – Japan Forum

‘ . . . a trove of useful and original information, based on solid research and sources often not accessible to scholars who do not speak Japanese. Moreover, it offer new and stimulating analysis of the making of a national cuisine, adding interesting elements to the debate on the dynamics that determine and affect the development and the transformation of cultural - and culinary - identities.’ – Food and Foodways

‘Cwiertka’s account is both highly readable and essential.’ – Gastronomica

‘a worthwhile and important addition to the growing corpus of material about Japanese cuisine and its influence worldwide.’ – Pacific Affairs

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Katarzyna J. Cwiertka is Chair and Professor of Modern Japan Studies at Leiden University. She is the author of Cuisine, Colonialism and Cold War: Food in Twentieth-century Korea (Reaktion, 2012) and the editor of Critical Readings on Food in East Asia (2012) and Food and War in Mid-Twentieth-Century East Asia (2013).