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Berlin’s Japanese Foodscapes

Prof. Dr. Cornelia Reiher

Japanese food is currently very popular in Berlin. Gourmet journals feature special issues on Japanese cuisine and new culinary events related to Japan pop up consistently. Japanese food is no longer limited to sushi and teppanyaki, but is characterized by an increasing variety of dishes. Because of this ongoing diversification and great plurality, Japanese foodscapes in Berlin are an interesting case for studying the globalization of Japanese food. This project investigates culinary globalization and migration in Berlin’s Japanese foodscape from the perspective of food entrepreneurs, food workers and consumers. It started out as a methods course in the MA program Japanese Studies in 2015. Drawing on Berlin’s vibrant Japanese foodscape this course provides students with opportunities to plan and conduct research projects on various aspects of Japanese food. Students present their findings and reflections on methods and fieldwork in video tutorials online through the course blog. https://userblogs.fu-berlin.de/forschungswerkstatt-japan/

Project activities so far include a cooperation with Dr. Nora Kottmann from HHU Düsseldorf (2016 to 2018). Students had the opportunity to compare their findings with those of HHU students who conducted research on Japanese food in Düsseldorf and to share their results with them at a joint workshop in Berlin in 2017. In addition, a lecture series on culinary globalization took place at Freie Universität Berlin in 2017/18 (with Eun-Jeung Lee and Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit). First results of the project were published in the special issue Fieldwork in Japan: New trends and challenges (ed. Cornelia Reiher, 2018, ASIEN – The German Journal on Contemporary Asia 149).