Eating Contests in Early Modern Japanese Entertainment Media

Image of "Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan" book front cover by Eric C. Rath

Eric Rath, University of Kansas, Toyota Visiting Professor, University of Michigan

September 22, 2017 - 15:00 to 17:00

Jackman Humanities Building, JHB318 St. George Campus

Early modern Japan witnessed the rise of food as a subject of entertainment media as exemplified by numerous literary and visual depictions of culinary contests in which pedants debated the virtues of rice or tea; strong men (and women) measured their endurance in the number of bowls of noodles or cups of sake they could swallow; and posters ranked seafood recipes against vegetarian dishes.  Visual and literary artists even helped audiences imagine what would happen if food or drinks came alive and debated and battled each other.  Early modern media proved that food and beverages were not mundane objects, but instead had lives of their own, which were poetic, heroic, and potentially precarious.