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CEAPS Speaker | Akira Shimizu - "Grapes that Connected Peasants to the Shogun: A New Perspective on Early-Modern Japanese Society through Regional Brand Food."

Event Type
Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies
306 Coble Hall
Apr 7, 2023   1:00 - 2:30 pm  
Akira Shimizu (Wilkes University)
Webinar Registration
Yuchuan (Mike) Shen
Originating Calendar
CEAPS Events Calendar

*This is a Hybrid event

In 1836, Yamamiya village of today’s Yamanashi Prefecture submitted to a local intendant a request for permission to ship their grapes to Edo as “Koshū” grapes, branded after the province in which the village was located. Long recognized as the region’s meibutsu (specialty), these brand grapes had been produced exclusively by two villages of Katsunuma and Kami-Iwasaki, and annually presented to the shogun. These villages responded to Yamamiya’s petition to defend their privilege of being the sole producers of “Kōshū” grapes, and notified to bakufu-contracted wholesalers in Edo a possibility of halting their grape shipments in the event that the latter would receive grapes from other origins, pointing to the wholesalers’ potential inability to fulfill their obligation to make grapes available to Edo Castle. 

Through the examination of this case, we will consider how the handling of food empowered peasants to claim their own place in society by assuming control over the shogun’s kitchen. In doing, the talk will propose a new approach to social history of early-modern Japan through food and foodways.

Akira Shimizu received his doctorate in 2011 from the University of Illinois, and is currently Associate Professor in the Division of Global Cultures at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA. As a specialist of Japanese history of food and foodways, he is the author of Specialty Food, Market Culture, and Daily Life in Early Modern Japan (Lexington Press, 2022). His current research is focused on the cultural history of sake branding in the nineteenth century as well as the issues surrounding hatsumono (firstling primeur). 

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