Kyoto as Japan’s Ancient Kitchen: Feeding Tradition, Quenching Anxiety

Panel in the 7th Annual International ADI Conference on Food, Feeding and Eating In and Out of Asia

Convenors: Greg de St. Maurice and Takeshi Watanabe

Feelings about food in post-WWII, affluent Japan straddle an uncomfortable spectrum.
On the one hand, chefs on television dazzle viewers with elaborate dishes featuring special ingredients. On the other, consumers’ pursuit of wholesome foods signals an anxiety with routine excess, waste and commodification. Many people--from chefs and tastemakers to consumers and culinary tourists--have turned to the ancient capital of Kyoto when seeking Japan’s gastronomic roots. Perhaps it is no coincidence that throughout its history, Kyoto, said to be the “heart” of Japan, has experienced disasters and social turbulence in which food played a material, as well as symbolic role. This panel probes how the old capital has served--and continues to serve--as a stage for working through tensions surrounding food in Japan.

This panel invites paper proposals related to this theme. Possible topics include: culinary tourism and Kyoto, the role of Kyoto actors in the campaign to register washoku as UNESCO world heritage, Japanese religious perspectives on food, or the imagined mappings of food safety.


  • Greg de St. Maurice, PhD fellow, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh
  • Takeshi Watanabe, Assistant professor, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Connecticut College