Rosanjin Kitaōji and Conceptions of Japanese Cuisine

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As part of the academic lecture and cultural series in 2015, JASGA will present a lecture entitled "Rosanjin Kitaōji and Conceptions of Japanese Cuisine" by Dr. Nancy K. Stalker, University of Texas at Austin.  The lecture will be held in a private dining room at  Mikado Ryotei, Japanese tapas restaurant in Austin.  We will enjoy Japaense Bento box lunch with green tea.


About Lecture:

Internationally acclaimed films featuring Japanese food, such as Tampopo and Jiro Dreams of Sushi, highlight individuals with zealous and all-consuming attitudes toward food appreciation.  Such individuals are often known as bishokuka, or epicureans, and their highly disciplined, aesthetically centered devotion to gastronomy has significantly shaped both Japan's own gastro-identity and Western conceptions of Japanese cuisine, which tend to accentuate culinary values such as seasonality, simplicity, the highest quality ingredients and tasteful "wabi" aesthetics harmonizing food and tableware.  As noted by food historian Katarzyna Cwiertka, however, modern Japanese cuisine is not only composed of such elite and traditional Japanese cuisine, but prominently features Western and Chinese elements.  The imaginary national cuisine of bishokuka represents a very minor aspect of Japanese foodways.  How did seasonality, aesthetics, etc. become the quintessential values associated with Japanese cuisine when relatively few people eat with these qualities in mind?  

These characteristics do not necessarily stem from elite early modern gastronomy; rather they are associated with Rosanjin Kitaoji (1883-1959), primarily known as a ceramicist in the West but one of Japan's best-known epicureans of the 20th century.  As a restaurateur in the 1920s and 30s, he developed a reputation for punctilious insistence on the finest and freshest ingredients, exquisite ambience and crafting his own tableware to complement his food.  The West would not embrace Japanese cuisine until the late 1980s, coinciding with Japan's own "gurume boom" (gourmet boom).  At that moment Rosanjin’s epicurean and culturally nationalist views on Japanese culinary arts were rediscovered and became a kind of canon that helped shape essentialist views of Japanese cuisine, subsequently transmitted to the West.  This presentation provides a window into the culinary life of Rosanjin, considering his influences and musings on cuisine and national identity.   

About Dr. Nancy Stalker:

Dr. Nancy Stalker is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Asian Studies and History at The University of Texas at Austin.  She obtained her Ph.D. in History at Stanford University and has taught at Yale University and the University of California Berkeley.  Her research focuses on material and popular culture in 20th century Japan.  She is the author of Prophet Motive: Deguchi Onisaburō, Oomoto and the Rise of New Religions in Imperial Japan and is currently working on a monograph on ikebana.  She is also currently editing a book for Oxford University Press entitled Devouring Japan: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Japanese Gastro-identity, based on a conference she organized at UT last February. 


When:   Sunday, February 8, 2015 1:00-2:30 pm

Where:  Mikado Ryotei, Japanese tapas restaurant 

We enjoy lecture and Japanese bento box lunch (incl. tax, tip, & green tea)

Online reservation is available. Click Register Now below.

For those who would like to pay by check in advance to secure your seat, reserve your seat at and send check by Friday, February 6, 2015 by noon, made payable to:

PO Box 9276
Austin, TX 78766

Note: Cancellation fees are applicable for cancellations received less than 24 hours prior to the program (by February 7 at 1:00 pm.)

For any questions, please contact or 512-656-4731


February 8th, 2015 1:00 PM   through   2:30 PM
Phone: 512-656-4731
JASGA Member $ 20.00
Non-Member $ 20.00

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