Progression of Japanese Foodways

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The goal of this paper is to provide a backdrop for Japanese culinary history, show its evolution, and contemplate where the future of Japanese cuisine could lead. The Japanese diet has evolved over the long course of the nation’s history, and has paralleled the history of the nation itself. By examining the cuisine of the past, as well as that of twenty-first century Japan, one is able to see that there are strong links to traditional foodstuffs, despite an influx of dishes from the West. Foods that have Chinese or Western origins have been acclimated to Japanese tastes; and while some changes have been made, there is still a strong adherence to that which is associated with traditional foods, and this is relevant even in the modern era. Rice was primarily a food for the upper classes, and the most important ritual food, but not a widespread staple until recent times. The natural flavor of food is especially prized in Japanese cooking; and fast food is even subject to the gastronomical preferences and ideals. The post-WWII Japanese diet was the first time the diet could be seen as national: centuries of development divided food by region and social class, yet wartime forced these divisions to be abandoned and cuisine became homogenized after the war. Since then, cuisine has changed rapidly and there is evidence that meals are losing structure and centrality. The diet is evolving to accommodate more Western dishes, meats, and convenience foods. Different types of sources, both primary and secondary, from various disciplines support this research. Anthropology, sociology, economics, literary theory, and even research published in dental journals have augmented historical sources.


Keywords: Japan, Cuisine, History, Traditional Food, Diet
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Progression of Japanese Foodways, ,


Chrissie Tate Reilly

Graduate Student, History and Anthropology, Monmouth University
Long Branch, New Jersey, USA

As a historian, I strive to provide a comprehensive picture, even if it means going outside the conventional ideas. Being a food historian, there are very few conventions, so this allows for a greater range of flexibility and interdisciplinary research. I am currently studying food and national identity, as well as the dissemination of foodways across cultures.

Ref: I08P0291