Introduction: Reconsidering Japanese food

Tine Walravens*, Andreas Niehaus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPreface/postscriptResearchpeer-review


In December 2013, washoku was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list of the United Nations, and Japanese cuisine was thereby acknowledged as a social practice that provides the Japanese people with a sense of identity. Starting from this perception of Japanese cuisine, this introduction shows that food not only contributes to a person’s identity and communicates a sense of social belonging but that it is also productive in the construction of local and national identities. The construction, reconstruction, assertion and promotion of a ‘national cuisine’ in Japan reach beyond the aims of tourism and trade and are easily applied as a soft power instrument in the hands of those fostering nationalism. The narrative of a ‘pure’, natural, authentic and timeless cuisine, as it will be argued, successfully shaped a Japanese national-cultural identity, which centred on the ideas of homogeneity and uniqueness. Finally, this introduction will also map the scope of the contributions collected in this volume; arguing that national cuisine ‘happens’ at the intersection of a diverse set of academic approaches and research areas.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFeeding Japan : The Cultural and Political Issues of Dependency and Risk
Number of pages16
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date22 Aug 2017
ISBN (Print)9783319505527
ISBN (Electronic)9783319505534
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes

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