Unjacketed Hardcover

The Untold History of Ramen

How Political Crisis in Japan Spawned a Global Food Craze

George Solt (Author)

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Unjacketed Hardcover, 240 pages
ISBN: 9780520277564
February 2014
$60.00, £41.95
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A rich, salty, and steaming bowl of noodle soup, ramen has become an international symbol of the cultural prowess of Japanese cuisine. In this highly original account of geopolitics and industrialization in Japan, George Solt traces the meteoric rise of ramen from humble fuel for the working poor to international icon of Japanese culture.

Ramen’s popularity can be attributed to political and economic change on a global scale. Using declassified U.S. government documents and an array of Japanese sources, Solt reveals how the creation of a black market for American wheat imports during the U.S. occupation of Japan (1945–1952), the reindustrialization of Japan’s labor force during the Cold War, and the elevation of working-class foods in redefining national identity during the past two decades of economic stagnation (1990s–2000s), all contributed to the establishment of ramen as a national dish.

This book is essential reading for scholars, students of Japanese history and food studies, and anyone interested in gaining greater perspective on how international policy can influence everyday foods around the world.

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments

Introduction. National Food 1
1. Street Life: Chinese Noodles for Japanese Workers
2. Not an Easy Road: Black Market Ramen and the U.S. Occupation
3. Move On Up: Fuel for Rapid Growth
4. Like It Is, Like It Was: Rebranding Ramen
5. Flavor of the Month: American Ramen and “Cool Japan”

Conclusion. Time Will Tell: A Food of Opposition
Notes
Works Cited
Index
George Solt is Assistant Professor of History at New York University.
"Informative read."—Chico News and Reviews
"George Solt's The Untold History of Ramen is a wonderful guide to the world of ramen that will please aficionados, inform neophytes, and satisfy students of Japanese food and popular culture." —Samuel H. Yamashita, Henry E. Sheffield Professor of History, Pomona College

"European and North American diners who previously knew only packaged ramen are now waiting in long lines at specialty restaurants for Japan's iconic noodle soup. Solt's fascinating study reveals the role of U.S. foreign policy in ramen's past and shows how a Japanese worker's meal became a national food and rode to the forefront of the latest wave in Japanese cuisine to arrive in the West." Eric C. Rath, Professor of History, University of Kansas

ONE

Street Life

Chinese Noodles for Japanese Workers

Was ramen first introduced to Japan in 1665, 1884, or 1910? Is its precursor a dish known as ūshin udon, Nankin soba, or Shina soba? Depending on the answer, one arrives at a different dish with its own origin story and a distinct historical trajectory producing a particular view of Japan. None of the dish's origin stories are mutually exclusive, but each is a different way of linking the past to the present. It is clear, then, that each story represents a contrast in emphasis rather than a set of fundamentally irreconcilable facts. This is worth noting because, like all questions about origins, the debate surrounding the roots of ramen reveals the difficulties arising from the open-ended search for the true beginning of any food practice.

The three distinct origin stories concerning the birth of ramen in Japan that have been established by various authors and institutions are as follows. The first and most imaginative originally appeared in food historian Kosuge Keiko's pioneering study of the history of ramen published in 1987. This version dates the introduction of the dish to the 1660s and designates Tokugawa Mitsukuni (a.k.a. Mito Kōmon, 1628-1701), a legendary feudal lord (daimyō) and second in line to the ruling shōgun, as the first person to eat ramen in Japan.

Tokugawa Mitsukuni is a popular historical figure in Japan due to a long-running period drama on television based on his exploits as a disguised defender of the weak who reveals his identity to wrongdoers near the end of each episode with a flash of his inrō (small decorative lacquer case) imprinted with his clan's crest, which serves to identify him as the daimyō of the province. The line "Do you not behold this clan crest?" (Kono mondokoro ga me ni hairanuka?) is repeated by Mitsukuni's guard, Kaku-san, at the culmination of each episode to restore order and hierarchy, leading to instant begging for forgiveness on the part of the unruly malefactors. A record of Mitsukuni's activities surviving from July 1665 indicates that a Chinese refugee of the Ming government living in Mito at the time, Zhu Shun Shui, provided advice to Mitsukuni on how to prepare a Chinese-style noodle soup that may have been similar to today's ramen.

Although Mitsukuni is best known in Japanese history for launching the monumental project of recording Dai Nihon Shi, or the Great History of Japan, which took nearly 250 years and ten generations to complete, he was also an admirer of neo-Confucian philosophy and looked to China for guidance on how to manage state affairs. He therefore sought out the advice and company of Zhu, who had arrived in Japan in 1665 as a refugee from Manchu rule after having served as a high-ranking official in China under Ming rule. Zhu became one of Mitsukuni's most important advisors and worked in his administration for the next seventeen years, until his death in 1682. Zhu's prominence within the daimyō's coterie of consultants afforded him a comfortable lifestyle and a distinguished gravestone in the cemetery of the Tokugawa clan's Mito branch, which remains to this day.

During his service to the daimyō, Zhu learned that Mitsukuni was an avid consumer of udon, a noodle soup made of wheat-flour noodles and dashi broth (made from dried bonito and kelp) that is still popular in Japan. In the seventeenth century Japanese usually ate udon with pickled apricot (umeboshi) and sesame as toppings. Seeing this, Zhu recommended five ingredients commonly used in Chinese noodle soup that the daimyō of Mito could add to improve the taste of the dish. The five ingredients (ūshin) he purportedly suggested were Allium chinense roots (rakkyō), garlic, garlic chives (nira), green onions, and ginger. From these facts, food historian Kosuge surmised that Tokugawa Mitsukuni was the founding father of the consumption of Chinese-style noodle soup in Japan. The Raumen Museum of Shin-Yokohama later popularized this story, and, as a result, in 2003 Japan's Nissin Foods Corporation, the world's largest manufacturer of instant noodles, for a limited time released the U-shin brand of instant ramen packaged with the Tokugawa clan crest and adorned with the story of Mitsukuni and Zhu.

Although it is difficult to determine the extent to which the dish consumed by the famous lord of Mito corresponds to what is known as ramen today, it is significant that this widely circulated narrative of the arrival of Chinese-style noodle soup in Japan sets the origin story in the early modern period, an era marked by Japanese learning from China. Although the story serves as a fantastic theme park version of the dish's origin, replete with larger-than-life characters and imagined interactions based on liberal readings of historical records, it is significant in its accentuation of Japanese admiration of pre-Qing China.

The second origin story centers on ramen's arrival in the nineteenth century as a result of changes in Japanese food practices inspired by American imperialism. In 1853 the United States sent a squadron of gunboats led by Commodore Matthew Perry to Japan in order to obtain a treaty that would 1) open Japan's ports to trade with the United States, 2) guarantee assistance for shipwrecked American sailors, and 3) establish consular offices for mutual diplomatic representation. After obtaining these terms in 1854 (officially achieved through the Convention of Peace and Amity), the United States demanded another treaty that forced Japan to cede territorial concessions, jurisdiction over the adjudication of foreigners accused of committing crimes, and control over its tariffs on imports. The United States obtained the second treaty in 1858 in the form of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Amity and Commerce.

The shōgun'sinability to resist the foreign encroachment eroded his authority, spawning a political crisis that eventually culminated in the toppling of the two-and-a-half-century-old Tokugawa dynasty in 1868. The adoption of European-style industrial, military, and political structures (including aggressive imperialism) soon became the goal of Japanese leaders, and an important part of this process entailed the incorporation of Western foodstuffs into Japanese diets. In this way the availability of the ingredients of ramen on a wide scale (particularly pork and wheat) was made possible only by the chain of events set off by the Perry Expedition of 1853.

Along with the Europeans, there was an influx of Chinese traders (referred to as kakyō in Japan) who settled into the treaty ports of Yokohama, Kobe, Nagasaki, and Hakodate at this time. In the earliest stage of migration, many of the Chinese residents worked for the Europeans and Americans in occupations such as construction, tailoring, printing, and shipping. After the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Commerce of 1871 provided legal recognition and consular protection to the Chinese residents of the open port cities, however, the Chinese increasingly carried out their own trade with Japanese business owners.

One of the skills that the Chinese tradesmen brought with them was cooking. A noodle soup known as lā-mien (hand-stretched noodles served in a lightly salted chicken soup with scallions) soon became a staple of the Chinese restaurants in Japan. The Japanese referred to the lā-mien made by the Chinese tradesmen as Nankin soba (Nanjing noodles) after the Chinese capital city of Nanjing, and they described it as a simple dish served at the end of a meal rather than a meal by itself. The dish, which did not contain toppings or sauces at this point, was akin to a plain shio (salt-flavored) ramen. Excluding the select group of Japanese familiar with life in the foreign residential districts of Yokohama, Kobe, Nagasaki, and Hakodate, however, few in Japan had the opportunity to taste the food. In these early years the consumers of Nankin soba were almost exclusively Chinese workers, traders, and students living in the districts for foreign residents in Japan's treaty ports.

The first known mention of Nankin soba in Japanese print appeared in 1884 in an advertisement for a restaurant named Yōwaken in Hakodate's foreign residential district. Hakodate, located on the southern tip of Hokkaido, was, along with Shimoda, one of the first two cities to open to trade with the United States in 1854 after the Treaty of Kanagawa took effect. Hakodate played a particularly important role as a site of contact between Japanese and Europeans (mainly Russians).

Yōwaken was a "Western-style" restaurant (yōshokuya) that served domesticated European, American, and Chinese cuisine, including Nankin soba, to Japanese and foreign customers. The chicken noodle soup produced by Chinese chefs working at Western-style restaurants, therefore, could logically be considered a precursor to what would later become known as ramen. Unlike the narrative concerning the lord of Mito's taking to ūshin udon in the 1660s, however, the story of Nankin soba's introduction into the foreign residential districts of 1880s Japan contains no legendary characters and is based on the demand for new types of labor and food generated by expanding Euro-American influence in East Asia rather than an appreciation of China by Japanese elites. Ultimately, Nankin soba was a simple chicken noodle soup that did not contain many of the ingredients associated with ramen today, so it may be argued that there was still a significant gap between this food and what would later be known as ramen.

Nankin soba's move into parts of Japan other than the treaty ports can be dated to 1899, when the Japanese government eased the law requiring foreigners to reside in designated settlements. This change made it possible for resident aliens to live and do business throughout the country and brought about the first Chinese restaurants catering primarily to Japanese customers outside the Chinatown districts. The origins of the Yokohama version of the dish that later inspired a wave of pushcart vendors in Tokyo can be dated to this change as well. Renowned author Nagai Kafū is known to have been one of the first Japanese to enjoy Nankin soba at the pushcarts operated by Chinese migrants at this early stage in the food's history.

The last of the three origin stories is centered on the establishment of Rai-Rai Ken, the first Chinese food restaurant owned and operated by a Japanese national. In 1910, Ozaki Kenichi opened Rai-Rai Ken in the Asakusa district of Tokyo, an area known for its teeming population of wage workers. Unlike the plain noodle soups with no toppings other than scallions that had been served in Nankinmachiduring the 1880s and 1890s, Rai-Rai Ken incorporated a soy sauce-based seasoning sauce, tare, and served its noodle soup, referred to as Shina soba, with chāshū (roasted pork), naruto (fish-meal cake), boiled spinach, and nori (seaweed)-ingredients that together would form the model for authentic Tokyo-style ramen. Rai-Rai Kenquickly gained attention for its cheap, tasty, and quickly prepared Shina soba as well as other Chinese foods adapted to Japanese tastes, such as shūmai (pork dumplings) and wantan (wonton soup).

The founder of Rai-Rai Ken, Ozaki Kenichi, was a customs agent working in Yokohama who resigned from his relatively prestigious government job to open a Chinese restaurant. A customs agent leaving an official occupation of repute (underscored by the saber that accompanied the uniform) to work as a restaurateur in the shitamachi (downtown, or working-class district) of Tokyo was indeed rare, but Ozaki pioneered a path that many other white-collar salaried workers would follow in the postwar period. These men, known as datsu-sara, or salaryman escapees, were those who turned away from stable office jobs to begin microscale businesses, essentially to flee the rigidity and competitiveness of white-collar work at large institutions.

In his days as a customs official, Ozaki frequented the Chinese restaurants of Nankinmachi, which were only a stone's throw from his workplace. In launching Rai-Rai Ken, Ozaki hired Chinese chefs from Nankinmachi who hailed from the Guangdong region and used alkali-laced noodles in their soups. Rai-Rai Ken later added sliced marinated bamboo shoots known as Shina chiku (Chinese bamboo shoots) to their Shina soba, which also became a fixture of the dish in Tokyo.

At the time of the shop's opening in 1910, a bowl of Shina soba at Rai-Rai Ken sold for six sen, or six one-hundredths of a yen. For the sake of comparison, the average price of a bowl of tempura with sauce over rice (tendon) was twelve sen,a bowl of soba noodle soup was three sen, and a bowl of Japanese-style curry rice was approximately seven sen in the same year. Due to inflation, by 1931 the cost of a bowl of Shina soba in Tokyo was approximately ten sen, which would be worth roughly three hundred yen today (or $3 at current exchange rates)-half the cost of an average bowl in present-day Japan. Finally, by 1941 (the last year during which Shina soba was available until after the war), the price averaged sixteen sen around Tokyo.

Shina Soba: Fuel for Modern Workers

My focus so far has been on the way in which Chinese immigrants introduced their food to Japan. In order for Shina soba to thrive as it did during the 1920s and 1930s, however, the consumers of the noodle soup (mostly wage earners from rural areas working in modern industry) needed to be assembled and provided with an impetus to buy it. The introduction of Chinese food in Japan is thus only half of the story, and we now turn to the other half, which is the creation of the consumer base for Shina soba.

The industrialization of the Japanese economy produced a demand for workers in cities and manufacturing centers, workers who would encounter new types of work, people, and food. Aiding Japan's industrialization was its victory in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), which generated an indemnity worth four times Japan's national budget of 1893. Like the Spanish-American War of 1898, the First Sino-Japanese War was a conflict between a waning imperial power (China) and a rising one (Japan) concerning the nominal independence of a territory considered strategically vital to each of the warring parties (in this case, Korea). Japan's victory spurred a wave of industrial activity that expanded the urban workforce and magnified the demand for food in the cities. Job growth occurred primarily in mining, manufacturing, construction, transportation, and communications, while employment in the agricultural sector remained stagnant. These changes in the composition of the labor force had a profound impact on the production and consumption of food in Japan.

Food processing became a major component of the industrial economy, and canning in particular was one of the earliest industries to develop during the Meiji period. The construction of a nationwide rail network around the turn of the century also facilitated the distribution of food products, thereby stimulating industrial food production and processing as a whole. Canned foods became especially important for the military and were distributed to soldiers for the first time in Japan during the Seinan Civil War of 1877. The war was the last major uprising in Japan that threatened the rule of the new Meiji regime, which had taken power in 1868. It was headed by a former military leader of the Meiji government, Saigō Takamori, who reluctantly led roughly twenty thousand former samurai in battle against government troops numbering more than seventy thousand. Subsequently the Japanese military's use of canned foods spiked during the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars, when the government spent a total of 2,515,738 yen and 23,099,209 yen respectively on canned food, primarily meat and fish.

The growth in wage laborers in the 1890s created a heightened demand for eateries and outdoor dining establishments in the cities. According to a survey conducted by the Tokyo municipal government, by 1897 there were 476 formal restaurants, 4,470 small eating or drinking establishments, 143 teahouses, and 476 sake houses operating within city limits. Particularly in the vicinity of Asakusa and Ueno, which housed much of the low-wage workforce, rows of pushcart vendors, small eateries, and teahouses lined the narrow city streets.

The First World War stimulated the process of industrialization that had already been underway for three decades. The war in Europe allowed Japan to take the place of the Great Powers in many of the Asian colonial markets, creating a boom for exporters and boosting industrial production overall. Specifically, between 1914 and 1918 Japan's industrial output rose from 1.4 billion to 6.8 billion yen. Although manufacturing had already been growing at a relatively high rate of an average of 5 percent annually in the decade following the Russo-Japanese War, during World War I it jumped to 9.3 percent annually. In 1919, industrial output (6.74 billion yen) overtook agricultural production (4.16 billion yen) for the first time.

As men and women moved to the cities in search of work, they also found pushcarts and Chinese restaurants serving Shina soba. The ranks of industrial workers swelled by 1.4 million over the course of the war, while the farming population correspondingly declined by approximately 1.2 million. The growth in industrial output brought on by the Great War in Europe provided stimulus to the restaurant business in Tokyo as the shift in population resulted in an expansion of Japanese-operated Chinese restaurants (Chūka ryōri ya), Western-style eateries (yōshokuya), and pushcart vendors (yatai), the three types of establishments serving Chinese noodle soup in this period. Alongside the yatai vendors who had been selling buckwheat (soba) noodle soup for nearly four centuries, a new breed of Japanese pushcart vendors hawking Shina soba began to make their way around the same high-population areas of Tokyo in Asakusa and Ueno in the early 1900s. The customers at these establishments were workers and students who migrated to urban destinations from the countryside seeking education, employment, and training that was not available in their local areas.

As the cities grew richer the rural areas grew poorer. This was partly because the wartime boom in industry widened the wage gap between agricultural and industrial laborers, and also because food produced in the colonies of Taiwan (annexed in 1895) and Korea (annexed in 1910) provided competition that drove down the prices Japanese farmers could charge for their produce. The growth of the industrial population that accompanied World War I, and the social unrest related to the availability of food that soon followed (such as the Rice Riots of 1918), led the government to increase imports of food from Taiwan and Korea, which inadvertently reduced welfare for Japanese agricultural workers on the home islands. This chain of events in turn accelerated the shift away from the primary sector (agriculture) toward the secondary (manufacturing) and tertiary (service) sectors. In addition to stimulating rice production in the colonies, the government began studying ways to substitute rice with other staples such as wheat (used to make noodles and bread) and soybeans (for tofu, miso, nattō, edamame, kinako, yuba, and soy sauce, for example) in the case of future shortfalls in rice supplies for the growing metropolitan population.

More urban workers in Japan acquired a taste for Shina soba in the 1910s, and by the 1920s this cheap, quick, and filling dish, widely available in the most populous districts of Japan's modern cities, had become emblematic of the emergent mass (taishū) food culture. One of Japan's first mechanically processed, mass-produced foods, Shina soba reflected directly upon the new work schedules, technologies, and commodity choices of Japan's urban working masses and the movement of both workers and students, including those from China. The short amount of time necessary to prepare and consume the noodle soup, and its heartiness compared to Japanese soba (which did not include meat in the broth or as a topping), also fit the dietary needs and lifestyles of urban Japanese workers in the 1920s and 1930s.

The low status of Shina soba-a dish introduced by people from Shina (a defeated nation no longer considered worthy of emulation after the Sino-Japanese War), unlike more highly regarded foods such as bread and cake, which had been introduced by Westerners-illustrated the class differences associated with the primary consumers of each type of wheat-flour-based food. Although it was Japan's exposure to the gunboat diplomacy of the United States and imperialist nations of Western Europe that caused Chinese and Western foods to be introduced and consumed in Meiji Japan on a new scale, the two cuisines were absorbed at different rates and became categorized differently due to the disparity in international prestige enjoyed by each group. In this way, Shina soba and shūmai pork dumplings became markers of working-class fare partly due to their associations with the defeated Shina and their popularity in areas such as Asakusa.

The industrialization of food production was also a factor in the proliferation of cheap noodle shops. The first noodle-making machine in Japan appeared in 1883, and by the late 1910s mechanized noodle making had superseded the hand-stretched method. The growth in the delivery of foodstuffs such as rice, flour, soy, and sugar from the countryside and the colonies to the cities also facilitated the expansion of the urban population by 1.4 million, as noted above. By 1928, the consumption of Shina soba was significant enough for the first Shina Soba Producers' Trade Union of Greater Tokyo to be established, signaling the rise of the working class as a political force as well. In this manner, one can see that the consumption of Shina soba was no longer an exotic culinary experience, as it had been for those Japanese customs agents, tradesmen, and writers who first ingested Nankin soba in Japan's treaty ports, but rather it was a custom that was increasingly associated with the workers of urban Japan.

The adoption of Shina soba as standard fare by the wage-earning laborers of modern cities such as Tokyo and Sapporo also reflected an increasing desire for speed in the preparation of food. When making Shina soba, cooks prepared a pot of soup base and a bowl of flavoring sauce to serve an entire day's worth of customers, leaving only the boiling of the noodles and reconstituting of the soup to be left for when the orders were placed. With this method, Shina soba was usually served within a few minutes of a customer's arrival, making it particularly appealing to the hungry, exhausted, and hurried worker of modern industry. It is no wonder that this affordable and hearty noodle soup that could be quickly cooked to order appealed to the wage-earning workers of Tokyo and other Japanese cities.

The heightened demand for Shina soba in Tokyo and elsewhere highlighted the increasingly atomized and nocturnal eating practices that resulted from the mass migration of people from the country to the city for work and education. The escalation of the atomization that accompanied economic development in Japan is another qualitative change in dietary habits that accompanied the spread of Shina soba. The dislocation of so many from their hometowns, and the demand they created in the cities for inexpensive and rapidly prepared foods served around the clock, fundamentally transformed the relationship between people and their notion of nourishment. Food became more of an undifferentiated commodity disconnected from the source of production than a creation of communal labor. In this way foods such as Shina soba increasingly served to sustain the labor power of wage earners, replacing time-consuming meals cooked by kinfolk with local ingredients.

In the 1910s and 1920s, Shina soba became a symbol of the rapid transformation of Tokyo into a modern industrial city offering new types of foods that were unavailable in the countryside. For both newcomers and longtime city residents, the availability of novel goods and services in the city was exhilarating. The flourishing of cafés, bars, restaurants, department stores, and movie theaters in Tokyo after the 1923 earthquake signaled the arrival of modern life in Japan. Among the many new types of food establishments that proliferated in this period were the Shina shoku ya (Chinese food restaurant), the yōshokuya (Western-style eatery), the café, and the Shina soba pushcart, the four main venues at which Shina soba could be consumed. For many part of the city-going experience included a visit to a Western-style eatery or pushcart for a taste of Shina soba. The main consumers of Shina soba were workers, students, and soldiers, who were among the most politically radical and fractious constituencies in Japan at the time.

Although it may seem somewhat odd, the café (kissaten) and the Western-style eatery (yōshokuya) were primary venues for the consumption of Shina soba in 1920s Japan as well. Cafés and Western-style eateries together played an important role in introducing new types of foods that often combined European ingredients and techniques with those native to Japan to create entirely novel creations (such as omuraisu, or Japanese omelet rice with ketchup, fried egg, fried onions, and chicken, which is still popular today). Particularly in Sapporo, already in the 1930s ramen had become a fixture of cafés and was sold as rāmen rather than Shina soba, a fact that is often mentioned in ramen histories.

The café, as opposed to the traditional tearoom, was a central component of modern life in Tokyo, particularly after the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923 destroyed much of the old city. Elise Tipton, an expert on urban Japanese culture of the 1920s, argues, "It is no exaggeration to describe the decade after the [Great Kantō] earthquake as 'the café era.' . . . The cafes and bars made Ginza a 'theater' or 'stage' upon which modern life was performed. . . . Cafes flourished in other districts, especially Asakusa and increasingly Shinjuku, but they did not possess the top-class image of Ginza cafes." Writers such as Tanizaki Junichirō also frequently employed the motif of the café to illustrate the social transformations associated with modern life in 1920s Japan. In this way, residents of Japan's cities encountered new foods, ideas, and ways of identifying themselves and one another in the cafés of the 1910s and 1920s. Shina soba was therefore at the center of the dynamic climate of social and political change that marked the era.

Although most Chinese restaurants in Tokyo were small businesses that tended to cater to working-class residents in neighborhoods such as Asakusa and Ueno, some upscale Chinese restaurants serving Shina soba were located in the city's shiny new department stores. This was significant because department stores and their restaurants were at the cutting edge of urban middle-class consumer culture in the 1920s and 1930s. Food historian Katarzyna Cwiertka notes that department store dining halls "represented the mass catering of the future not only because of their multicultural menus," but also because of their heavy reliance on technology, their rationalized corporate systems of advertising and supply-chain management, and their attention to hygiene and speed in their operations. In this way, the locations at which Shina soba was served and the activities with which it was associated endowed the dish with an aura of modern city living.

The new routines of work and leisure that defined urban existence often involved the eating of Shina soba. Going to the movies, for example, was an emblematic component of modern city life that was deeply connected to the consumption of Chinese noodle soup, as the Shina soba pushcart stall became a routine destination for the after-movie crowd beginning in the 1920s. Particularly in Asakusa, a neighborhood that attracted thousands of daily visitors to its movie theaters, eating a bowl of Shina soba became a routine part of a visit.

A 1936 film directed by Ozu Yasujirō, Hitori Musuko (The Only Son), captures the symbolic power of Shina soba as an emblem of modern city life for the rural visitor. The film centers on a widow who is trying to reconnect with her only son, who has left for the city to find work. After thirteen years without seeing him, she decides to pay a visit to the city to find out how he is living. While the son is showing his mother around Tokyo, he treats her to a bowl of Chinese noodle soup at a pushcart stall using the little money he has. She is completely unfamiliar with the dish and tries it only after her son cheerfully urges her to embrace the unknown. The scene is illustrative of both the novelty of the dish from the perspective of a senior from the countryside, and the son's inability to afford a more proper meal.

By the 1920s, people in urban Japan were enjoying domesticated Chinese cuisine on an unprecedented scale. As the most widely recognized dish of the assimilated and domesticated Chinese cuisine that flourished in Japan during the interwar period, Shina soba was an important food that marked the new customs associated with everyday life in urban Tokyo. According to a census taken in 1923, Tokyo was home to roughly a thousand Chinese food restaurants and five thousand restaurants serving Western food (many of which served Shina soba), numbers that do not include the numerous cafés, bars, and pushcarts.

The adoption of Chinese and Western cuisines by Japanese urbanites in the 1920s was a result not only of their palatability, but also of their perceived nutritional superiority to traditional Japanese foods. Food historian Ishige Naomichi notes, "Western and Chinese cuisine were accepted largely because they provided foods that were lacking in the native cuisine-meat, oils and fats, and spices. As knowledge of modern nutritional science spread, meat dishes came to be seen as energy providers, and Western and Chinese foods were considered highly nutritious. The mass media also promoted new foods and nutritional awareness." Ishige's description of the driving forces behind the spread of Chinese and Western foods highlights the interconnectedness of modern nutritional science and the powerful projection of dietary norms by the mass media. His explanation of the domestication and adoption of Chinese and Western-style foods on a mass scale in the 1920s points to the shift toward a diet containing increasing amounts of animal proteins, processed grains, salt, and sugar in Japan.

The application of scientific knowledge to food production increased significantly during the 1920s. The study of food and nutrition flourished with the government's establishment in 1920 of the National Institute of Health and Nutrition, a part of the Ministry of Home Affairs, one of the most powerful ministries in prewar Japan. Among other things, the institute conducted studies to address the growing problems surrounding food production and distribution, particularly that of providing adequate nutrition for the industrial workforce to remain productive. The studies also aided the military in its food planning and provided many rural Japanese conscript soldiers with their first experience of eating Chinese food. In this way, the military was one of the primary sites where the findings of state-sponsored nutritional science were disseminated to the masses. Food historian Katarzyna Cwiertka notes, "The respectability that the military enjoyed in Japanese society facilitated the advance of Chinese cuisine. Moreover, military dieticians propagated Chinese recipes as cheap, nourishing, and close to Japanese cooking."

The ubiquity of Chinese food in Japanese cities in the 1920 and 1930s therefore resulted from a confluence of factors: the rise of the industrial working class, which created a demand for inexpensive high-calorie foods; the findings of modern nutritional science, which advocated the consumption of more wheat, meat, and dairy; the development of mechanized production techniques, such as for processing wheat and making noodles; and Japan's expansion into China, which brought the latter's food culture closer to home for the Japanese. Each of these closely related changes contributed substantially to the growth of Shina soba consumption among the residents of Japan's cities, and particularly among members of the working class.

Literary Leftism and the Noodle

As employment in the manufacturing sector expanded rapidly in the 1920s, proletarian literature describing the agony of work in the food industry became exceedingly common. One of the best-known works on this topic is Kobayashi Takiji's classic "The Cannery Boat" ("Kani kōsen"), in which the filth and anger accompanying low-wage work on a dangerous crab-canning boat are described in horrifying detail. A lesser-known yet significant example from the interwar era is a short story by Satomura Kinzō titled "Chronicle of Starting a Shina Soba Shop," published in 1933 by the journal Kaizō. The story describes a day in the life of a newcomer to the Shina soba pushcart business who struggles to make ends meet for his family and maintain a semblance of dignity. The tale is not only a glimpse into the life of the yatai operator's routine, but also a critique of the economic and social desperation he finds himself facing.

The story begins with the narrator preparing for work as the sun goes down, a scene that underlines how out of sync he is with the natural cycle of nocturnal sleep. The author, writing in the first person, describes how agonizing the routine remains no matter how many times he repeats it. Next he describes the pain he feels in his calves as a result of pulling the yatai cart every night, and he asks himself why he must begin working at a time of the day when even the birds are easing into rest. He wonders aloud, "Can such an existence be considered living?"

Despite his clear disdain for the work, he continues out of a sense of responsibility for his wife and four-year-old son. Although he pities his wife for having to endure a poverty-stricken life, he also resents her for not understanding the toil involved in making a living out of a Shina soba yatai. He states, "She is unconcerned whether I put food on the table by writing, yatai vending, or going off to work in the countryside, so long as there is enough to get along." In a similar fashion, the renowned writer Edogawa Ranpō (whose pen name is an homage to author Edgar Allan Poe) worked as a yatai vendor himself before he was able to support himself through his writing alone.

The desire to provide for his son, however, inspires the narrator to keep working every day. Still, he asks, "How many others have discarded their ideals and worked tirelessly just for the sake of providing a living for their children, only to become ugly carcasses or insect shells left by the wayside?" The narrator's thoughts thus turn negative once again as he leaves his home, pulling his cart into the dark street.

Next he complains about the difficulty of running the business, particularly the blowing of the charumera, a type of flute that was the signature call of all roaming Shina soba yatai operators around that time. He is distressed about café waitresses and passersby who mock and insult him, telling him that his lack of talent in playing the flute also deters them from trying his noodles. People trying to sleep often berate him for playing the flute in their neighborhood so late at night. Competition is fierce. By the time he arrives at the café district of Kōenji, there are already five or six other Shina soba yatai set up. He continues walking because he is unlikely to win any new customers in such a saturated market.

After serving a few unhappy customers who complain about his undercooking of the noodles, he encounters a group of seven café waitresses who order a bowl each. One of them is drunk and begins to demean him with all manner of insults. The author concludes the story by saying, "The waitresses are human too. When they get drunk, they too want to pick on someone weaker than themselves-that's just part of being human. In this case, I was happy to soothe the rage of the drunken café waitress." The Shina soba yatai operator is sufficiently powerless that the women of the night feel comfortable in belittling him, and he resigns himself to his circumstances. In this way the Shina soba maker sacrifices himself for the good of all, serving as the whipping boy in the nocturnal economy of decadence and desperation. The story is a testament to the physical and mental hardships as well as the technical difficulties involved in building a Shina soba yatai business.

Kobayashi Kurasaburō's "Account of a Soba Shop," published in Chūō kōrōn, another left-leaning journal, is less concerned with poverty than with industrial capitalism's supplanting of inherited food practices. Kobayashi's editorial decries the undercutting of long-existing food practices by foreign foods and industrial food production and describes at length the value of Tokyo's old-time soba shops, which largely disappeared from the city after the 1923 earthquake. He begins the piece by grumbling about the lack of expertise in the contemporary soba business, where "one finds shops selling soba, Shina soba, curry rice, shiruko, and mitsumame all under one roof. In the old times a soba shop would be embarrassed to serve even rice-based dishes. These days it is sad to see so many soba shops that do not seem like proper soba shops [sobaya rashiku nai sobaya]."

The author goes on to bemoan the industrialization of the soba production process, pointing out how it has resulted in lower-quality food and a corruption of the principles governing the food business in general. He states:

In the old days, local farmers in Nakano, Kōenji, and Musashino grew the buckwheat, and soba shops used to turn the buckwheat into soba flour themselves, which is why the soba was so fresh. These days, however, the buckwheat travels long distances and soba flour is mass-produced by big merchants. The priority for these merchants is not how to make the tastiest food, but how to produce the food at the lowest cost. In this way, the merchants' first instinct is to use the abacus to calculate profits, which is simply unavoidable. . . . Furthermore, these days shops actually advertise it when they hand make their noodles, meaning machine-produced soba has become ubiquitous. It did not used to be like that.

The editorial's critical perspective on the transformation in food production speaks to many of the disruptions caused by the overall shift to an industrial economy. The decline in the number of farmers and the amount of farmland in Tokyo, the focus on cost over taste by large food corporations, and the newfound value of the handmade were central features of the shift to a factory system that would only become more entrenched over time. Kobayashi ends by decrying the loss of the old-time language that marked the everyday life of the preindustrial soba shop. The author's attention to the correspondence between trends in food production, economic organization, and the use of language relates a sense of the connectedness with which many intellectuals understood the different areas of social life undergoing rapid transformation.

Turning Japanese

There are a number of illuminating local origin stories of famous shops that highlight the centrality of Chinese cooks in transforming the dish into a Japanese staple, beginning with the abovementioned story of Rai-Rai Ken's founding in 1910. Yet, because of its ordinariness as a commodity, there are few reliable records concerning Shina soba, the people who produced it, or those who consumed it in its introductory phase during the 1900s. For information about Shina soba in this period, we must turn to anecdotal evidence and legends recorded during the 1980s and 1990s concerning a handful of renowned Japanese proprietors who paved the way for the dish's further penetration into Japanese dietary practices.

Restaurants serving Chinese food (Shina shoku) began appearing in small cities across Japan such as Sano, Kurume, Wakayama, Onomichi, Hakata, Kumamoto, and Kagoshima in the 1920s and 1930s. All of these cities had a relatively large number of industrial workers, food-processing plants, and train traffic, which made them logical spots for Shina soba shop operators to thrive. Sano, a city of roughly fifty thousand in 1926, already had 160 Shina soba shops, including yatai. Again, the presence of wheat farms and flour-processing plants in the vicinity, as well as a high concentration of industrial workers (involved in the textile industry in the case of Sano), provided a suitable backdrop for the early development of Chinese noodle soup in that city. Sano's role as a transportation hub where the Jōetsu and Tōhoku railway lines joined also contributed to its development as an important regional center of early industry. Furthermore, Sano was one of the first places where large-scale mechanized noodle production replaced the hand stretching of noodles. It is therefore not surprising that Sano became a relatively early center for the production and consumption of Chinese noodle soup.

According to Ogawa Hideo, the third-generation owner of the renowned ramen shop in Sano named Hōraiken, the first place in the city to serve Shina soba was an establishment named Ebisu Shokudō, a Western-style eatery that opened in 1916 with a Chinese chef. Due to his expertise in Chinese cooking, the chef decided to include some Chinese foods on the menu, including Shina soba. Ogawa Risaburō, Hideo's grandfather, who was an apprentice for the unnamed Chinese cook at Ebisu Shokudō, steadfastly learned the skill of Shina soba creation. In 1930, Ogawa Risaburō created his own yatai business and began selling Shina soba using the recipe he had learned while apprenticing at Ebisu Shokudō. His success led him to establish Hōraiken, which became one of the first restaurants in Sano to specialize in Shina soba, according to his grandson and the store's current owner.

Although nearly every city in Japan has its own origin stories of Japanese Shina soba pioneers, the well-known tale of Ōhisa Masaji (and chef Wang Wen Zai) in Sapporo is of particular interest due to the importance of Sapporo ramen in spawning the ramen boom of the 1960s, as well as the glimpse it provides into anti-Chinese discrimination at the time. Like Rai-Rai Ken's Ozaki, Ōhisa had worked for the government before opening a Chinese food restaurant, first as a national railroad employee, then as an officer in the police force. In 1922, after meeting Wang Wen Zai, a native of Shandong province who had been working as a cook in Sakhalin (Karafutō), Ōhisa and his wife decided to convert their small lunchbox (bentō) shop into a restaurant named Shina Ryōri Takeya. Their store catered mainly to local students and railroad workers.

Ōhisa Tatsu, the wife of the proprietor, witnessed how Wang and the other Chinese workers often endured insults from customers, who would order the noodle dish using the terms Chankoro soba and Chan soba (Chankoro and Chan-chan being some of the most derogatory Japanese terms for a Chinese person at the time, akin to "chink" in English). In an effort to limit the use of such insults, Ōhisa Tatsu claims that she suggested they replace the term Shina soba with the word rāmen (the term used by the cooks themselves) on the menu, which would gradually get customers out of the habit of using the offensive terms. The practice eventually caught on around Sapporo, which in turn became the first city (and the only one during the prewar period) where the term rāmen was more widely used than Shina soba.

In 1928 Ōhisa opened a second shop, named Hōran, in the city of Asahikawa, Hokkaidō. Asahikawa's location as the last point north on the Hokkaidō train line made it a collection and processing point for agricultural goods. The high volume of wheat and livestock passing through Asahikawa and the large number of industrial workers in food-processing factories (as well as a garrison of soldiers stationed there) made it a logical place for shops selling Shina soba and other inexpensive foods to operate.

The origin story of ramen in Wakayama centers on a man from Korea known as Takamoto Kōji, who in 1940 began a yatai operation that he named Marutaka. His idiosyncratic method of preparing the soup-boiling the pork bone in soy sauce once, then using those bones for soup broth and that soy sauce as a marinade for the chāshū-became the standard "Wakayama method" for preparing ramen, and his protégés, most of whom were Korean, dominated the ramen-making business in Wakayama for decades. The centrality of not only Chinese but also Korean migrant workers in pioneering the spread of Shina soba is underscored by Takamoto's story.

Miyamoto Tokio, who had previously run an udon yatai business, launched the first recorded Shina soba shop in Kyūshū in 1938. The name of the store, Nankin Senryō, appears to have been a pun, as it was a homonym of "Nanjing occupation," and thus suggested the infamous invasion of Nanjing by the Japanese army in late 1937. Miyamoto had himself apprenticed under a Chinese chef in Yokohama's Nankinmachi just a few years earlier, but his choice for the name of the restaurant stands in stark contrast to the racial harmony that Ōhisa Tatsu attempted to cultivate, as described above.

Miyamoto was a talented chef who pioneered the Kyūshū-style tonkotsu (pork bone) soup base, which consisted of bones boiled down in water over hours into a "muddy white" consistency with relatively little soy sauce added, and was usually served with extra-thin white noodles. Miyamoto is said to have developed his soup-making methods from watching Chinese chefs cook chanpon noodles (also known as Shina udon, a regional specialty of Nagasaki) during his apprenticeship in that city'sNankinmachi. Miyamoto's shop catered mainly to students and soldiers stationed in Kurume, a small city in Fukuoka prefecture on the island of Kyūshū, which may partially explain why he chose to name his restaurant with a homonym for "Nanjing occupation."

Onomichi was another city where ramen became popular in the 1920s due to its location as an early center of industrial production. Here it was the ship-building trade that created the hub of activity necessary for the Shina soba business to thrive. The sizable industrial workforce, which included a relatively large number of Taiwanese and Korean migrant workers, made Onomichi another fertile space for the emergence of various types of yatai. Zhu A Chun was another foreign pioneer of Shina soba in Japan who started as a migrant worker from Taichung, Taiwan. After losing his job at the local shipyard in Onomichi, he opened the first Shina soba business in that city. Zhu's yatai, which he eventually expanded into a small restaurant, became a popular attraction for the after-movie crowd as well as his former co-workers at the shipyards.

A history similar to that of Shina soba is that of Shina udon, now known as chanpon, which became popular in Nagasaki around the turn of the century. In 1899 a man named Chen Ping Jun from Fujian province opened a restaurant named Shikairō, which became known as the first place to serve Shina udon in Nagasaki. Although Chinese students studying in Japan formed his primary customer base in the beginning, the local population also gradually came to know the inexpensive and hearty meals served by Chen, and by 1903 he had created a menu in Japanese listing items that were popular with the locals.

As seen from the examples above, the spread of Shina soba (and Shina udon) was deeply intertwined with the new flow of goods and people brought about by Japan's industrialization. The migration of people from country to city, the formation of an industrial workforce that included Chinese laborers as cooks, and the incorporation of Chinese food into Japanese urban diets after an incubation period in the treaty ports produced the backdrop for a surge in businesses offering cheap, hearty, and rapidly prepared Chinese noodle soup. The students, soldiers, shipyard workers, dock workers, railroad workers, and other industrial workers mentioned in the origin stories above formed the core of those demanding Shina soba. Furthermore, people on the margins of the homeland produced much of the foodstuffs for the industrial laborers in the cities, providing fuel for overall economic growth in a literal way.

The role of locomotive transportation in creating the conditions that made the flourishing of Shina soba possible is apparent from the stories above. Cities that adopted Shina soba relatively early, in the 1910s and 1920s (such as Asahikawa and Sano), were also regional transport hubs where the processing of foods and other raw materials from rural areas and the colonies occurred. The mass production and processing of the ingredients that allowed for the popularization of Chinese noodle soup as a cheap food for workers was therefore not simply a matter of taste or consumer preference, but it was deeply rooted in new forms of economic production.

The centrality of China in Japan's foreign relations and military expansion during the modern period (especially in the 1930s) is apparent from any attempt to trace the beginnings of Shina soba. The widespread consumption of Chinese noodle soup in department stores, small eateries serving Chinese food, military facilities, workplace cafeterias, and pushcarts is tightly interwoven with the relocation of students and workers from China, Korea, and Taiwan to Japan, the migration of Japanese and Korean farmers to Manchuria, and the movement of millions of farmers with a taste for new foods and modes of entertainment into the urban industrial workforce. Although the available sources on the history of ramen in Japan tend to underscore the centrality of Japanese chefs in creatively altering the dish to suit Japanese tastes, with particular emphasis on Ozaki Kenichi and Rai-Rai Ken, it is clear from the previous examples that the adoption of ramen in Japan was a collective, multiethnic effort, with many non-Japanese actors playing major roles.

Give Up the Goods: Shina Soba in Wartime

After Japan had spent six decades seeking a stronger foothold on the Asian continent in order to expand trade, security, and settlement, and doing so with the blessing of Great Britain and the United States, in the 1930s the country's foreign policy shifted toward confrontation with these two countries over its growing dominance in northeast Asia. The main point of contention was Japan's position in Manchuria beyond the railway lines it had gained control of in the Russo-Japanese War. Manchuria is a resource-rich region of northern China, which local military commanders in the Japanese army seized in 1931 without prior approval from Tokyo. The intention of the army unit that took control of Manchuria in 1931 was to unilaterally resolve Japan's economic crisis, which had been generated by the global breakdown in trade after the Great Depression. The army's unilateral actions in seizing Manchuria for the purposes of agricultural settlement, industrialization, and preemptive defense against Soviet encroachment were celebrated by most of the Japanese press at the time. Japan's movement into Manchuria, and the subsequent establishment of a nominally independent nation there allied with Japan through force rather than plebiscite, eventually led to Japan's fateful split from the United States and Britain (and its alliance with Germany and Italy) that paved the way to World War II. Japanese leaders likened their situation in Manchuria to the United States' position in Central America, explaining that this was their version of the Monroe Doctrine, but the Americans and British deemed it a form of aggression unlike their own.

The two sides also split over their relationship with Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist regime in China, which the Americans and British supported and recognized as the sovereign leader of a unified China but the Japanese acknowledged only as one of many regional warlords in China. In 1937, conflict erupted between Chiang's Nationalist forces and Japan's troops stationed in China as a result of a minor skirmish between troops near Beijing at the Luguoqiao (Rokōkyō or Marco Polo Bridge). The fighting was not intended by either side to be a pretext for a full-scale war, but the conflict escalated and eventually expanded into the Second Sino Japanese War (1937-45). As the two sides became deadlocked, the Japanese government moved to restrict, and eventually outlaw, food vending in order to minimize waste and maximize its resources for the military.

The availability of Shina soba and other cooked foods for purchase declined at once as the economy was mobilized for war. The state's restructuring of the economy, which occurred in several stages, resulted in a centralized system where state agencies and state-sanctioned monopolies collected and redistributed nearly all basic necessities through local community organizations. In this way, the government began controlling the food supply through a system of rationing that the Konoe cabinet first implemented under the National General Mobilization Law (Kokka Sōdōin hō) of 1938. The large-scale rationing of staples such as rice, wheat flour, eggs, fish, vegetable oil, and sugar began in 1941 and became codified under the Food Management Law (Shokuryō Kanri hō) of February 1942.

The strict system of government food rationing and the outlawing of commercial food vending led to the disappearance of Shina soba and other popular restaurant foods from Japanese cities in 1942. This happened at the very moment that demand for food by the very workers and soldiers who had taken to the dish in the previous decade surged. An increase in the ranks of military personnel and workers in heavy industries that resulted from the war presented a grave problem for others managing their food needs, as those involved in the war effort were allotted significantly higher rations than the average civilian. According to the Food Management Law of 1942, soldiers, heavy industrial workers, and average civilians were to be provided with 600, 420, and 330 grams of rice or rice equivalents per day, respectively. Increased soybean production in Manchuria and greater attempts at home production of food by civilians in the homeland somewhat offset the growth in demand for food created by the war, but staple foods remained scarce.

Like most commodities and hobbies that had signaled the arrival of modern life in the 1920s and {apos}30s, Shina soba was cast off as a relic of a bygone era marked by relative luxury and frivolity as Japan moved toward war mobilization. The state's rationing of basic goods in the 1940s transformed dining out into something considered wasteful and self-indulgent by those who were in the midst of what they understood to be a fight for their nation's very survival. Rationing had already emerged as the primary means of acquiring food other than home production in 1938, but by 1942, state actors further tightened economic controls to the extent that all available human and material resources were being directed toward the needs of the military. From 1944, mounting war losses meant that the production and importation of controlled foodstuffs could not keep pace with the government's pledged distribution levels. Consequently, in many cases the urban population was forced to support itself through bartering with farmers, collective gardening, and eating unfamiliar foods such as insects, boiled leaves, and tree roots.

The economic controls that led to the outlawing of Shina soba were intended to maximize production and check the inflationary pressures created by the acute demand for raw materials generated by war production. Although most government regulations were introduced as temporary measures, most were kept in place through the postwar U.S. occupation (1945-52) and beyond. Economic historian Nakamura Takafusa argues, "To a great extent, the system created during the war was inherited as the postwar economic system. The industries developed during the war became the major postwar industries; wartime technology was reborn in the postwar export industries; and the postwar national lifestyle, too, originated in changes that began during the period of conflict." The shift from light to heavy industries, the emergence of a subcontracting system for tools and parts, the development of bank-centered industrial combines, the use of administrative guidance from bureaucrats in directing economic affairs, and the move from trade unions to company unions were all wartime transformations that formed the foundation of the postwar economic system. In this way, the increased control exercised over the economy by bureaucrats during the war survived into the postwar period and evolved into what became understood in the United States as the "Japanese style" of economic management by the 1970s.

The banning of pleasures like eating Shina soba at Chinese restaurants and mingling at cafés received much support from middle-class community-based activists, who deemed such activities unpatriotic and wasteful exhibitions of decadence well before the wartime food shortages set in. Popular backing for the government's drives to increase production and tighten consumption were vital to the success of the rationing system, and state bureaucrats therefore made great efforts to promote grass-roots campaigns urging people to work more and consume less. Two examples of the popular drive to limit food consumption were the promotion of bimonthly meatless days on the 8th and 28th and the Rising Sun lunch box (Hinomaru bentō). Inspired by the national flag, the Hinomaru bentō, consisting of white rice with a pickled apricot in the middle, became a popular symbol of restraint in food consumption and civilian support for soldiers in the late 1930s.

Another example of a popular campaign to reduce food intake was the Japanese Housewives' Association's push to "eliminate white rice" (leaving rice unpolished, thereby adding volume), which began in 1937. The campaign, part of a general drive to eliminate food waste, became official policy in December 1939 in the form of the Rice Polishing Restriction Regulation (Beikoku Tōsei Seigen Rei), which prohibited removing more than 30 percent of the grain's outer shell.

The abolition of restaurant dining, the Hinomaru bentō, meatless days, and the campaign to eliminate white rice were all made possible by the eager participation of housewives' associations and other community groups, who advocated increased state control over civilian life in the name of moral uplift and wartime sacrifice. The strong bourgeois-bureaucratic alliance, which coalesced around a shared belief in scientific progress and rational solutions to social problems, formed the basis for the rise of "social management" in the 1930s, an ethos that continued well into the 1940s and 1950s. Sheldon Garon notes, "What appear to be instances of top-down control by the state turn out often to have resulted from demands by nongovernmental groups, which looked to the bureaucracy to advance their agenda. . . . These organizations were overwhelmingly middle class in character. They were dominated by neither the great landlords nor big businessmen but rather by the old middle class of small farmers and petty entrepreneurs, and by the new middle class of educators, social workers, physicians, and the wives of salaried employees." In this sense, wartime food privations often began as voluntary movements initiated by community groups at home to express solidarity with the troops abroad.

The Japanese wartime campaigns to promote austerity and maintain popular morale that led to the demise of Shina soba were remarkably similar to those advanced in the United States. In both countries state leaders implemented policies that impacted dietary practices across all income levels. Aside from the fact that the U.S. blockades and sinking of Japanese merchant ships resulted in a dwindling of food supplies for people in Japan without a corresponding shortage in American food, the two countries managed their food supplies and propagated their respective food ideologies in remarkably similar ways. The states' unprecedented degree of involvement in food production, processing, storage, and distribution, as well as their campaigns urging housewives to consume less, produce more at home, and to think about food in nationalistic terms, changed the meanings and uses of food in ways that would last for generations in both countries. The United States and Japan, then, shared many practices rooted in the same logic of total war mobilization and employed similar techniques of social-economic planning and political persuasion that produced long-term transformations in both societies. Amy Bentley, a U.S. food historian, observes:

Officials hoped to ensure public commitment by using the equal distribution of high-status and familiar foods through mandatory food rationing to increase Americans' physical and psychic satisfaction. To maintain public approval or at least tolerance of rationing, government propaganda campaigns used images of food to depict American society as stable, abundant, and unified. These campaigns were aimed particularly at securing the support of American women, who were chiefly responsible for family food consumption. . . .

Preventing waste, avoiding black markets, producing food, and abiding by food rationing, however trivial they may have seemed, allowed Americans to contribute to, and feel a part of, the war effort.

Bentley's description of U.S. efforts to constrain food consumption through highly gendered appeals to the patriotism of women could easily apply to Japan in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The dependence on produce grown in private or collective gardens, known as "victory gardens," was a common feature of wartime life in both the United States and Japan. A reliance on the labor of captive and colonized people was another similarity of the two countries in their efforts to stimulate production during the course of the war. In the case of Japan, rice imported from Korea and Taiwan accounted for roughly 20 percent of the total supply in Japan proper at the outbreak of the war, and soybean supplies from Manchuria rose steadily during the course of the war even as other sources of food dwindled due to the sinking of cargo ships. Taiwan was also an important source of sugar before and during the war until supplies were cut off from that colony. Imperial Japanese army forces occupying parts of China, Singapore, and the Philippines relied on rice produced in French Indochina and Siam. In the United States, the State Department facilitated the importation of nearly 150,000 farm laborers from Mexico, Barbados, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Canada, and Newfoundland on temporary permits. In addition, 65,000 prisoners of war were used for agricultural labor.

The foods that the administrators of the rationing system in both countries deemed national staples also contributed to the long-term national cultural symbolism associated with them more than any other factor. In the case of Japan, the idea that rice was a staple that all Japanese would consume daily became a reality only with the wartime rationing system. Similarly, in the United States, the state's ability to make meat, and steaks in particular, available to working-class households as part of the rationing system did more to democratize diets and improve poor people's access to widely desired foods than ever before. Well after the system of rationing ended, these foods continued to symbolize the essential components of the national diet in both countries owing to the long-term transformations caused by total war mobilization.

In both countries, middle-class community leaders and proactive state bureaucrats formed alliances based on the perceived need to manage the everyday lives of the working-class population to maximize productivity, maintain hygiene, and safeguard people from unfettered consumerism in a time of war mobilization. The use of propaganda to promote restraint in consumption and an increase in social management overall were thus features common to both the United States and Japan that highlighted the similarity of internal class relations in a time of total war mobilization.

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