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Reading Food in Modern Japanese Literature$
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Tomoko Aoyama

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824832858

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824832858.001.0001

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Food in the Diary

Food in the Diary

(p.15) Chapter One Food in the Diary
Reading Food in Modern Japanese Literature

Tomoko Aoyama

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines food and eating in “literary” diaries. It begins with the diaries of Masaoka Shiki, whose appetite caused problems but at the same time signaled his will to live. Similarly, hunger in Hayashi Fumiko's text indicates not only the difficulties of the young woman narrator but also her strong desire and vitality. In Ibuse Masuji's Kuroi ame and Inoue Hisashi's Tōkyō sebun rōzu hunger occurs on a national scale. The diary form was used in these novels about the war and its aftermath in order to attempt a detailed record of the everyday lives of ordinary people under extraordinary and devastating circumstances. The chapter also shows that the diary may conceal some facts, or reveal facts that its writer does not know. The obsession for inscription evidenced in many of the diaries discussed seems to consist of a variety of motives—to prove that one is still alive, to satisfy artistic aspirations, to leave a record for future generations, or to defend the very means of writing itself. In all of these texts, food functions both as a pleasure that brings people together and as a cause of conflict, struggle, compromise, oppression, manipulation, and corruption. Each of the diaries discussed also shows the connection between food and gender.

Keywords:   food, eating, literary diaries, Japanese literature, Ibuse Masuji, Hayashi Fumiko, Inoue Hisashi, hunger, gender, Masaoka Shiki

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