The Remaking of a National Cuisine: The Food Education Campaign in Japan

  • Stephanie Assmann


On December 5, 2013, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) acknowledged washoku, which can be translated as “Japanese cuisine,” as an intangible cultural world heritage. In particular Japan’s elaborate New Year’s cuisine (o-sechi ryōri) received the status of a cultural world heritage. In accordance with the Japanese government’s efforts to convey the image of a globally recognized national cuisine characterized by elegance and tradition, washoku has joined the list of intangible cultural world heritage assets next to the French gastronomic meal, Mexican cuisine, and a number of specific culinary dishes such as Korean pickles (kimchi) and gingerbread from Northern Croatia (Robinson 2014). One intent of applying for world heritage status for washoku was to shift global attention away from the potential dangers associated with radiation and food safety after the nuclear disaster of March 11, 2011, and elevate the image of Japanese cuisine by associating it with elaborate cuisine, refined ingredients, and cleanliness.


School Lunch Nuclear Disaster Japanese Food Food Education School Lunch Program 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Assmann, Stephanie. 2010. “Food Action Nippon and Slow Food Japan: The Role of Two Citizen Movements in the Rediscovery of Local Foodways.” In Globalization, Food and Social Identities in the Asia Pacifc Region, edited by James Farrer. Tokyo: Sophia University. Accessed December 4, 2014. Scholar
  2. Barlösisus, Eva. 2011. Soziologie des Essens. Eine sozial- und kulturwissenschaftliche Einführung in die Ernährungsforschung (Sociology of Food: A Social and Cultural Introduction to Nutrition Research].Weinheim und München: Juventa.Google Scholar
  3. Center for the Advancement of Food Education by the Cabinet Offce (Nai-kaku-fu Shokuiku suishin shitsu). 2013. “Current Situation and Tasks of Policies for Advancing Food Education” (Shokuiku suishin shisaku no genjō to kadai). In Food Education White Book (Shokuiku hakusho). Accessed January 29, 2015. 2013/pdf/gaiyo1sho1.pdf.Google Scholar
  4. Cwiertka, Katarzyna Joanna. 2006. Modern Japanese Cuisine: Food, Power, and National Identity. London: Reaktion Books.Google Scholar
  5. Distribution System Research Center. 2012. Shokuseikatsu oyobi nōrin gyōgyō taiken ni kansuru chōsa (Survey on Food Life and Experiences of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries). Accessed April 13, 2014. Scholar
  6. Food Action Nippon Website. Accessed March 31, 2014.
  7. Food Action Nippon. 2014. Tabete ōen shiyō (Supporting through Eating). Accessed March 31, 2014.
  8. Foucault, Michel. 1976. Überwachen und Strafen. Die Geburt des Gefängnisses (Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  9. Harvard School of Public Health, Obesity Prevention Source. “Why Use BMI?” Accessed April 15, 2014.
  10. Hope, Andrew. 2013. “Foucault, Panopticism and School Surveillance Research.” In Social Theory and Education Research Understanding Foucault, Habermas, Bourdieu and Derrida, edited by Mark Murphy, 35–51. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Japan Finance Corporation (Nihon seisaku kinyū kinko kokumin seikatsu jigyō honbu seikatsu eisei yūshi-bu). 2013. Gaishoku ni kansuru shōhisha ishiki to inshokuten no keiei jittai chōsa (Survey on consumer awareness regarding eating out and restaurants). Last modifed December 18, 2013. Accessed December 3, 2014. Scholar
  12. Kasch, Franziska. 2013. “Der aktuelle Übergewichtsdiskurs in Japan” (The Contemporary Discourse on Overweight in Japan]. OAG Notizen (May): 11–26.Google Scholar
  13. Kimura, Hirata Aya. 2011. “Nationalism, Patriarchy, and Moralism: The Government-Led Food Reform in Contemporary Japan.” Food and Food-ways: Explorations in the History and Culture of Human Nourishment, 19: 3, 201–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Klotter, Christoph. 2013. “Gesundheitszwänge im Lichte der Theorie Foucaults” (Health Obsessions in Light of Foucault’s Theory). In Gesundheitszwänge (Health Obsessions), edited by Hans-Wolfgang Hoefert and Christoph Klotter, 7–39. Lengerich: Pabst.Google Scholar
  15. Kroke, Anja. 2013. “Der perfekte Body Mass Index” (The Perfect Body Mass Index). In Gesundheitszwänge (Health Obsessions), edited by Hans-Wolfgang Hoefert and Christoph Klotter, 110–30. Lengerich: Pabst.Google Scholar
  16. Kuczmarski Robert J. and Katherine M. Flegal. 2000. “Criteria for Defnition of Overweight in Transition: Background and Recommendations for the United States.” American Society for Clinical Nutrition: 1074–81. Accessed April 15, 2015.
  17. Mae, Michiko. 2008. “Zur Entwicklung einer partizipatorischen Zivilgesellschaft in Japan” (About the Development of a Participatory Civil Society in Japan). In Japan 2008. Politik, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft (Japan 2008: Politics, Economy, and Society), edited by Iris Wieczorek, 217–40. Berlin: Vereinigung für Sozialwissenschaftliche Japanforschung.Google Scholar
  18. McVeigh, Brian. 2001. “Postwar Japan’s ‘Hard’ and ‘Soft’ Nationalism.” Japan Policy Research Institute (JPRI) at the University of San Francisco Center for the Pacifc Rim, Working Paper No. 73.Google Scholar
  19. Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), ed. Kodomo no shokuiku (Food Education for Children). Accessed April 16, 2014.
  20. Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). What Is Shokuiku (Food Education). Accessed April 15, 2014.
  21. Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). 2014. Survey on the Implementation of the School Lunch Program— Overview of the Results of 2014 (Gakkō kyushoku jisshi jōkyō nado chōsa— Heisei 24 nendo kekka no gaiyō). Accessed January 29, 2015.
  22. Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW). 2012. Heisei 24 Nen Kokumin kenkō eiyō chōsa kekka no gaiyō (Overview of the Results of the Survey of Health and Nutrition of the Japanese Population for the Year 2012]. Accessed April 8, 2015. Scholar
  23. Müller, Claudia, Maike Groeneveld, and Margret Büning-Fesel. 2007. “Food Literacy—Essen als Querschnittsthema der Erwachsenenbildung” (Food Literacy—Food as a General Topic in Adult Learning]. Ernährung im Fokus (Nutrition in Focus] 7: 5–7.Google Scholar
  24. Prime Minister’s Cabinet Offce. 2015. About ‘Awareness Survey Regarding Food and Nutrition Education’ (‘Shokuiku ni kansuru ishiki chōsa’ ni tsuite). Accessed April 8, 2015. Scholar
  25. Robinson, Gwen. 2014. “Safeguarding a Culinary Heritage.” New York Times, January 16. Accessed April 16, 2014.
  26. Sternsdorff Cisterna, Nicolas. 2014. “On Food and Safety: What is the Meaning of Safety in Post-Fukushima Japan?” In To See Once More the Stars. Living in a Post-Fukushima World, edited by Daisuke Naito, Ryan Syre, Heather Swanson, and Satsuki Takahashi, Santa Cruz: New Pacifc Press, pp. 74–75.Google Scholar
  27. Suematsu, Hiroyuki. 2008. Shokuryō jikyu-ritsu no ‘naze’. Dōshite hikui to ikenai no ka? (The Riddle of the Food Self-Suffciency Rate: Why Should It Not Be Low?). Tokyo: Fusosha Shinsho.Google Scholar
  28. Tanaka, Nobuko, and Miki Miyoshi. 2012. “School Lunch Program for Health Promotion among Children in Japan.” Asia Pacifc Journal Clinical Nutrition 21, no. 1: 155–58.Google Scholar
  29. The Japan Dietetic Association (Nihon Eiyōshikai). 2013. Accessed December 4, 2014.
  30. Tokudome, Shinkan, and Shigeru Yamamoto. 2012. “Overview of Nutrition Education Program for National Health Promotion in Asian Countries: Current Situation and Future Direction.” Asia Pacifc Journal Clinical Nutrition 21, no. 1: 127.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© James Farrer 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephanie Assmann

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations