Session 13: Room 11-411
Individual Papers on Contemporary Japanese Cultural Production
Chair: Roberta Strippoli, Bates College

1) Rossella Ceccarini, Sophia University
The Role of the Food Worker in the Globalization of Food: the Case of Pizza Cooks in Japan

Hamburgers, cappuccino, ice cream and pizza belong to the long list of foreign food that has successfully made its way into Japan. Scholars have paid attention to global brands and corporations bringing foreign food into Japan and, more generally, into Asia; McDonald’s, Starbucks and other fast food chains are the evergreen objects of investigation. Great attention has been paid to the Japanese consumer, and to the way food has been glocalized and to the way eating habits have changed since the introduction of new foods (Tobin et al. 1994, Ohonuki-Tierney 1997, Ashkenazi and Jacob 2000, Miller 2003, Chwiertka 2006). General literature on gastronomic culture has paid attention to non-chain and ethnic restaurants as agents of globalization and cultural changes (Amdur et al. 1992, Ferguson 1998, Barbas 2003). However, the role of food workers seems to have been overlooked. Prior to being eaten, food and cuisine must be crafted and prepared. Thus, through a study of pizza in Japan, I propose to look at the glocalization of a foreign culinary product from the perspective of the pizzaiolo (i.e. pizza cook)  investigating the worker as an individual agent of globalization and the role he plays in spreading, glocalizing and making a culinary product desirable.

2) Patrick Galbraith, University of Tokyo
Fujoshi: From “Ladies” to “Rotten Girls,” Transgressive Play and Intimacy among young Japanese Female Yaoi Fans

This paper presents ethnography of “fujoshi," female fans and artists of the "yaoi" genre of male homosexual romance manga (comics). I conducted participant observation for one year among a dozen informants ages 18 to 28 as they created and shared artwork online and in person in ways that developed complex and innovative forms of “networked intimacy.” In a post-millennial age when many forms of intuitional connection and identity—home, school and work—are breaking down, hundreds of thousands of young women across Japan are productively engaging socioeconomic alienation and apathy, and regimes of patriarchy and hetronormativity, by creating alternative forms of intimacy and sociality in the writing, publishing and distributing of graphic images and compilations. The basis for yaoi imagery is usually for-boys manga and anime (animation) manipulated and reimagined to foreground the latent subversive elements. Stopping short of explicit sexual representation, yaoi still engages queer or otherwise forbidden desires in ways that allow the producers and consumers to explore attentive romance and fantasy and thus to serve as a platform for new types of intimacies. Fujoshi use yaoi images to not only re-contextualize the world around them, but also as a novel terrain on which to collectively explore and transform one another’s understanding of and position within the unstable world around them. This paper aims to extend the literature by considering how non-western gendered cultural forms are entailed in the global trends of neoliberal contraction and digital mediation. It will suggest that imaginative labor is productive of network intimacy.

3) Michael Furmanovsky, Ryukoku University
Uncovering the Historical Origins of Japan’s Commercial Pop Music Industry: Misa Watanabe and the Japanization of Western Pop, 1959–63

The distinctive structure of the current Japanese pop music industry has its origins in the years of the so-called “rokabiri bumu” of 1958-59. During what was a momentous two years in Japan’s economic and political post-war development, the Kanto area experienced an explosion of youth culture that paralleled the American rock ‘n’ roll movement of the mid-1950s. Modeled on, but not entirely imitative of, the American version, the Japanese rockabilly boom shocked the authorities and received massive media attention because of the raucous behavior of its teenage fans and the exciting performances of the mostly male rockabilly stars. Within a year, however, this authentic explosion of youthful musical energy had given way to a much less threatening style of popular music culture. Based on jazz-oriented and light pop songs composed by Japanese songwriters or translated cover versions of English songs, the new musical culture was epitomized by music variety shows such as The Hit Parade and Shabondama Holiday that were carried on the first commercial TV stations in the early 1960s. Ironically, the shift to a mainstream pop-oriented sound was masterminded by the same person who had been responsible for promoting the earlier rockabilly movement—Misa Watanabe. This presentation will look at the manner in which Watanabe and her jazz musician husband shaped the early Japanese pop music business. It pays particular attention to how the new production company found and groomed Japan’s first idol artists—the twin sisters known as The Peanuts—to become the voice and image of a new modern society.

4) Shoko Imai, The University of Tokyo
Cuisine, Cities and Globalization: The Geography of Japanese Food

In recent decades, the speed of the rising popularity of Japanese food around the world has been simply overwhelming. There are Japanese restaurants on every corner in major cities, and nowadays it is no longer so difficult to purchase Japanese ingredients at local supermarkets even if you live in a rural area far away from Japan. This whole phenomenon can be described as the globalization of Japanese culinary culture. Yet, each element of the process of this event has actually been happening on a “local” scale. The goal of my paper is to explore these processes in detail through case studies of the culinary globalization of Japanese food as it has been happening in locations such New York, London, Tokyo, and Kuala Lumpur, which is an emerging international city in Asia where Japanese food is growing in popularity. To conduct my research, I especially focus on a few specific chefs and cookbooks, as well as restaurants located in those places. In developing my argument I will use world city theory, an approach to globalization developed by geographers and spatial theorists. World city theory understands the major cities in the world as economic, political and cultural centers of power. In a space of flow of humans, materials and information, the Japanese food industry has established itself in world cities as a significant set of nodes in global networks. I analyze the ways in which chefs and restaurants have established their networks in their practice of Japanese culinary culture. And finally, I illustrate how they have eventually contributed to the emerging positive acceptance of Japanese food.

5) A. J. Jacobs, East Carolina University
Embedded Unevenness in Central Tokyo: A Comparison of Koto and Kita-Ku
Globalization has become a powerful agent on urban development. However, locally embedded factors, such as public investment policies and locational advantages remain the primary catalysts driving urban development. The situation is no different in Tokyo’s Ku. High incomes and a disproportionate share of employment have been clustered in Tokyo’s inner Ku. Conversely, low incomes and decline have been concentrated in its Kawanote Area. Currently, this eight Ku area contains the bottom six in mean per capita income (PCI) among the 23 Ku. Moreover, since 1965, five of its Ku have suffered declines in population and employment.

      The concentration of low incomes in Kawanote is not surprising, considering it has some of the Ku’s oldest housing units and historically has been home to Tokyo’s day laborers and outcastes. However, over the past decade, an interesting phenomenon has taken place there, uneven development. For example, the area’s Koto-Ku on Tokyo’s eastern waterfront has seen its mean PCI rank soar from 21st among the Ku in 1980 to 13th in 2006. It also has experienced the largest numeric increase in population of any Ku since 1995. In contrast, Kita-Ku, bordering Saitama Prefecture, has seen its PCI rank and population decline since 1995, occurring during a period when the 23 Ku combined to gain 812,828 residents. Through a comparative case study of these two Ku, this paper examines the reasons behind Tokyo’s uneven growth. It shows how the Ku’s growth patterns have remained tightly nested in their national and local contexts.