This summer, I had the opportunity to both further my professional Japanese as well as conduct research. I was based out of Yokohama, Japan, where I attended the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies. During the program, we were trained in giving presentations, and academic reading and writing. At the end of the program, I gave a short talk on my research and current project, translating the Chûjiruiki, a thirteenth century text on preparing food for elites at court.
My training at the IUC was complemented by excursions and meetings outside of Yokohama. I traveled down to Ise, Mie Prefecture, where I visited the Jingu Chokokan, a museum dedicated to shrines and Shinto rites. The main museum exhibition focused on offering food to kami, rites that many scholars connect with early food customs at Court. The Jingu Chokokan also had a small museum on agricultural history, where I could take useful pictures and notes for teaching as well as see old tools.
While I was working on my Chûjiruiki translation, I took numerous trips to the Ajinomoto Food Studies library in Tokyo. There, I was able to use their large collection of secondary scholarship and consider a future project on early modern materials, as the library has a large early modern cook book collection. While there, I was able to meet the director of the library, laying the foundation for future work at Ajinomoto. Ajinomoto was also hosting a small exhibition on Edo period seasonality and kabuki, a topic I wrote a research paper on last semester.
Finally, towards the end of my stay, I visited Keio University's library and the Keio Institute of Oriental Classics (Shido Bunko), where Professor Takashiro Sasaki introduced me to rare materials in the collection from the late medieval and early modern. As we examined scrolls and books, we also considered future ways to work with the Keio collections, in particular their large, recently acquired catalog of food-related sources from the Takahashi family. Professor Takahashi also was gracious enough to introduce me to the rare book sellers of Jimbocho, who pulled items relating to food culture for us to examine.
This was an invaluable summer that not only allowed me to pursue expected avenues and projects, such as my Chûjiruiki translation and IUC Japanese training, but also introduced me to new, previously unknown resources, such as the collection at Keio and acquisitions in Jimbocho.
Accepting my IUC diploma.
Left: Outside the Ajinomoto research library. Right: Participating in a uchimizu event in front of the Ajinomoto headquarters with staff.