Washoku , heritage and national identity

Authored by: Katarzyna J. Cwiertka

Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese History

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138815186
eBook ISBN: 9781315746678
Adobe ISBN:


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Washoku is nowadays commonly known as the name for traditional Japanese cuisine, which is roughly defined as being based on rice and miso soup with other dishes and putting emphasis on seasonal ingredients. On 4 December 2013 washoku was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and has ever since been heavily utilized by the Japanese government for nation branding. This chapter argues that washoku is a myth, which reveals more about Japan’s twentieth-century transformations than about its age-old culinary traditions. The case of washoku confronts us with the vulnerability of historical truth and the dangers the agendas of cultural diplomacy pose for the narratives of the past.

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