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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Bread and Washoku: Unveiling Japanese Identity Through the Necessity of Bread Baking
by Peters, Arisa Shibagaki, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2017, 297; 10686789
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of my research is to understand the meaning behind Japanese bread among Japanese people. Although bread is not something native to Japan, the Japanese have for over five hundred years made improvements to bread so it would become palatable to themselves. In the end Japanese people succeeded in creating bread specific to Japan— “Japanese bread”. However, because Japanese bread has been generated specifically for the Japanese, it is not something common in rest of the world. This fact makes it difficult for the Japanese living abroad to obtain Japanese bread amid increasing globalization.

Material collected between February and September 2015 during fieldwork conducted among Japanese people in San Diego, CA, for this study, reveals that most people have begun baking Japanese bread on their own as a result of seeking the bread that can satisfy their appetites. Even though everyone has different motives and goals for bread baking, Japanese women specifically share common features in their baking. Japanese bread baking is not simply for indulging their appetite for Japanese bread but for fulfilling a role as Japanese women. Viewed from the understanding of the traditional notion of “good wives, wise mothers” representing self-sacrifice and devotion to family, Japanese wives and mothers make an effort to learn and bake bread to feed the best food to their families.

A larger aim of this research is to contribute to the field of folklore, especially the study of material culture. The study of foodways and other genres of material culture share the directions and theories of folklore scholarship. Different from other genres of material culture showing the individuals’ identity through subcultural objects, scholars in food studies tend to address staple foods as a source of symbolism in a given culture and the emergence of a cultural identity or a group’s identity through such food. To expand this tradition, I have shown the intimate connection between the Japanese and bread as non-staple food of the Japanese in the individual level by interpreting individuals’ raw voices gathered during fieldwork.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Shukla, Pravina
Commitee: Foster, Michael, McDowell, John, Schrempp, Gregory
School: Indiana University
Department: Folklore and Ethnomusicology
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 79/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Folklore
Keywords: Bread, Foodways, Japanese identity, Material culture, Unesco, Washoku
Publication Number: 10686789
ISBN: 978-0-355-52124-5
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