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Diet and the comparison of living standards across the Great Divergence: Japanese food history in an English mirror

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 February 2019

Penelope Francks*
Affiliation:
East Asian Studies, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
*Corresponding
*Corresponding author. E-mail: p.g.francks@leeds.ac.uk

Abstract

The assessment of relative living standards, dominated by food, has been central to analysis of the timing and causes of the Great Divergence. Comparative quantitative measures of real incomes and food availability have generated the conclusion that living standards on the western side of Eurasia, in particular in England, were already higher than those observable on the eastern side by the seventeenth century, with the divergence widening thereafter. However, in the English case, research based on evidence as to what people actually ate suggests that the path of dietary change was by no means a straightforward matter of rising calorie consumption. When viewed in the light of this, evidence derived from the work of food historians of Japan can similarly be used to reveal a more complex pattern of dietary development than can be encompassed in quantitative estimates, even if along the lines of a very different diet and cuisine. This needs to be taken into account when living standards are compared across the divergence.

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© Cambridge University Press 2019 

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Footnotes

The names of Japanese authors writing in Japanese are presented in Japanese order, i.e. family name first.

References

1 Broadberry, Stephen, Campbell, Bruce, Klein, Alexander, Overton, Mark, and van Leeuwen, Bas, British economic growth, 1270–1870, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015, pp. 384387 Google Scholar and table 10.02. For the original comparative data on food and living standards, see Allen, Robert, Bassino, Jean-Pascal, Ma, Debin, Moll-Murata, Christine, and Luijten van Zanden, Jan, ‘Wages, prices, and living standards in China, 1738–1925: in comparison with Europe, Japan, and India’, Economic History Review, 64, S1, 2011, pp. 838 CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

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5 For a recent summary and critique of this literature, see Griffen, Emma, ‘Diets, hunger and living standards during the British Industrial Revolution’, Past & Present, 239, 1, 2018, pp. 71111 CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

6 Broadberry et al., British economic growth, table 10.02; Allen et al., ‘Wages, prices, and living standards’.

7 UNESCO, ‘Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 9 COM 8.17’, 2013, http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/decisions/8.COM/8.17 (consulted 11 August 2016). See also Yoshiko, Gotō, Edo no shoku ni manabu: bakumatsu Chōshū-han no eiyō jijō (Studying the Edo-period diet: the state of nutrition in late-Tokugawa Chōshū domain), Kyoto: Rinsen Shoten, 2015, p. 5 Google Scholar , to which I owe this point. For a critique of the idea of ‘traditional Japanese cuisine’, see Rath, Eric, Japan’s cuisines: food, place and identity, London: Reaktion Books, 2016, ch. 1 Google Scholar .

8 Government of Japan, ‘Washoku: traditional dietary cultures of the Japanese’, http://www.maff.go.jp/j/keikaku/syokubunka/ich/pdf/leaflet_e2ok.pdf (consulted 8 March 2017).

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10 For example in English, Hane, Mikiso, Peasants, rebels and outcastes: the underside of modern Japan, New York: Pantheon Books, 1982 Google Scholar .

11 Broadberry et al., British economic growth, tables 3.16 and 3.18.

12 Ibid., pp. 126–7.

13 For the latest version of these estimates, see Jean-Pascal Bassino, Stephen Broadberry, Kyōji Fukao, Bishnupriya Gupta, and Masanori Takashima, ‘Japan and the Great Divergence, 725–1874’, Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy, University of Warwick, Working Paper Series no. 230, 2015, https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/centres/cage/manage/publications/230-2015__broadberry_gupta.pdf (consulted 31 October 2018).

14 Ibid., tables 1 and 2.

15 See Osamu Saitō, ‘Climate, famine, and population in Japanese history: a long-term perspective’, in Batten, Bruce and Brown, Philip, eds., Environment and society in the Japanese islands: from prehistory to the present, Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press, 2015, pp. 213229 Google Scholar .

16 Shūzō, Koyama, ‘“Hida go-fudoki” ni miru Edo jidai no shokuseikatsu (Diet in the Edo period as seen in the “Hida go-fudoki”)’, in Ishikawa Hiroko and Haga Noboru, eds., Zenshū Nihon no shoku bunka 2: shoku seikatsu to shokumotsu shi (Japanese food culture series 2: the history of diet and food items), Tokyo: Yūzankaku, 1999, p. 221 Google Scholar ; Gotō, Edo no shoku, pp. 66–8, 93–6.

17 Bassino et al., ‘Japan and the Great Divergence’, p. 15.

18 Nishikawa, Shunsaku, ‘Grain consumption: the case of Chōshū’, in Marius Jansen and Gilbert Rozman, eds., Japan in transition from Tokugawa to Meiji, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986, pp. 423425 Google Scholar , 436; Gotō, Edo no shoku, p. 59.

19 Gotō, Edo no shoku, p. 86.

20 Broadberry et al., British economic growth, pp. 288–92.

21 Ibid., pp. 279–80, 295, 303–4.

22 Stephen Broadberry, ‘Accounting for the Great Divergence’, London School of Economics, Working Paper No. 184, 2013, http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/54573/1/WP184.pdf (consulted 31 October 2018).

23 For a survey of competing estimates, see Bernard Harris, Roderick Floud, and Sok Chul Hong, ‘How many calories? Food availability in England and Wales in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’, Research in Economic History, 31, 2015, p. 114.

24 Muldrew, Craig, Food, energy and the creation of industriousness: work and material culture in England, 1550–1780, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011, pp. 1113 and ch. 6CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

25 Ibid., ch. 2; Thirsk, Joan, Food in early modern England: phases, fads, fashions 1500–1760, London: Continuum Books, 2006, ch. 9 Google Scholar .

26 Meredith, David and Oxley, Deborah, ‘Food and fodder: feeding England, 1700–1900’, Past & Present, 222, 2014, pp. 163214 CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

27 For critiques, see Broadberry et al., British economic growth, pp. 294–5; Kelly, Morgan and Ó Gráda, Cormac, ‘Numerare est errare: agricultural output and food supply in England before and during the Industrial Revolution’, Journal of Economic History, 73, 4, 2013, pp. 11321163 CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

28 Ishige, Naomichi, The history and culture of Japanese food, London: Kegan Paul, 2001, p. 102 Google Scholar .

29 Woolgar, C. M., The culture of food in England, 1200–1500, New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 2016, pp. 1216 CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

30 Broadberry et al., British economic growth, table 7.06.

31 Thirsk, Food in early modern England, pp. 217–20.

32 Muldrew, Food, energy and industriousness, p. 59.

33 Robert Allen, ‘Real wages in Europe and Asia: a first look at the long-term patterns’, in Robert Allen, Tommy Bengtsson, and Martin Dribe, eds., Living standards in the past: new perspectives on well-being in Asia and Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 115; Allen et al., ‘Wages, prices, and living standards’, p. 21.

34 Thirsk, Food in early modern England, pp. 216–17.

35 Gotō, Edo no shoku, tables 12 and 27; Koyama, ‘Hida go-fudoki’, p. 212.

36 Charlotte von Verschuer, Rice, agriculture and the food supply in premodern Japan, trans. Wendy Cobcroft, Abingdon: Routledge, 2016, ch. 4. See also Ōmameuda Minoru, O-kome to shoku no kindai shi (The modern history of rice and diet), Tokyo: Yoshikawa Bunkan, 2007, table 3.

37 Gotō, Edo no shoku, pp. 69, 90, and table 27.

38 Yamaguchi Kazuo, Meiji zenki keizai no bunseki (Analysis of the early Meiji economy), Tokyo: Tōkyō Daigaku Shuppansha, 1963, table 7.

39 Ōmameuda, O-kome to shoku, table 5.

40 Gotō, Edo no shoku, pp. 31–4.

41 Ōmameuda, O-kome to shoku, pp. 71–2.

42 Jean-Pascal Bassino and Debin Ma, ‘Japanese unskilled wages in international perspective, 1741–1913’, Research in Economic History, 23, 2005, pp. 229–48.

43 Bassino et al., ‘Japan and the Great Divergence’, p. 15, n. 8.

44 For a similar critique of Allen et al.’s consumption basket, see Saitō Osamu, Hikaku keizai hatten Ron (Comparative economic development), Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2008, p. 116.

45 Muldrew, Food, energy and industriousness, pp. 105–12; Thirsk, Food in early modern England, pp. 284–303.

46 For an example of the significance of home-grown produce for the adequacy of the diet, see Meredith and Oxley, ‘Food and fodder’, pp. 204–5.

47 Gotō, Edo no shoku, p. 73.

48 Ibid., pp. 25–7.

49 Yamaguchi, Meiji zenki keizai, table 17.

50 Ibid., table 18.

51 See, for example, Minoru, Watanabe, Nihon shoku seikatsu shi (History of the Japanese diet), Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, 1964, p. 191 Google Scholar .

52 Naoki, Hashimoto, Shokutaku no Nihon shi: washoku bunka no dentō to kakushin (The history of food in Japan: tradition and change in the culture of Japanese-style food), Tokyo: Bensei Shuppan, 2015, pp. 7677 Google Scholar .

53 See, for example, Hashimoto, Shokutaku no Nihon shi, p. 138, for the relative prices facing a Kyoto carpenter’s family.

54 Muldrew, Food, energy and industriousness, pp. 83–100.

55 Broadberry et al., British economic growth, table 7.04.

56 Ibid., table 7.06.

57 Thirsk, Food in early modern England, p. 220.

58 See, for example, Junko, Takagaki, ‘Yonezawa no shokuseikatsu (Diet in Yonezawa)’, in Ishikawa Hiroko and Haga Noboru, eds., Zenshū Nihon no shoku bunka 10: nichijō no shoku (Japanese food culture series 10: everyday food), Tokyo: Yūzankaku, 1997, p. 124 Google Scholar .

59 Watanabe, Nihon shoku seikatsu, p. 193; Nobuo, Harada, Edo no shokubunka: washoku no hatten to sono haikei (Edo food culture: the development of Japanese-style food and its background), Tokyo: Shogakken, 2014, pp. 104105 Google Scholar .

60 Koyama, ‘Hida go-fudoki’, pp. 216–17.

61 Gotō, Edo no shoku, pp. 38–44.

62 Arch, Jakobina K., Bringing whales ashore: oceans and the environment of early modern Japan, Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2008, pp. 9699 Google Scholar .

63 Allen, Robert, The British Industrial Revolution in global perspective, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp. 3536 CrossRefGoogle Scholar ; Broadberry et al., British economic growth, table 7.07; Muldrew, Food, energy and industriousness, table 3.15.

64 Food and Agricultural Organization, ‘Summary of requirements for energy and protein’, http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/AA040E/AA040E09.htm (consulted 15 March 2017).

65 Gotō, Edo no shoku, tables 14 and 24; Allen, British Industrial Revolution, p. 36.

66 Thirsk, Food in early modern England, e.g. pp. 326–7.

67 Von Verschuer, Rice, agriculture and the food supply, ch. 2; see also Walker, Brett, ‘Commercial growth and environmental change in early modern Japan: Hachinohe’s wild boar famine of 1749’, Journal of Asian Studies, 60, 2, 2001, pp. 333335 CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

68 Koyama, ‘Hida go-fudoki’, p. 213; von Verschuer, Rice, agriculture and the food supply, ch. 3.

69 Koyama, ‘Hida go-fudoki’, pp. 213–14; Walker, ‘Commercial growth’, p. 335.

70 Horomi, Taguchi, ‘Matagi: Nihon rettō ni okeru nōgyō no kakudai to shuryō no ayumi’ (Matagi: the history of hunting and the expansion of agriculture on the Japanese archipelago)’, Chigaku Zasshi (Journal of Geography), 113, 2, 2004, p. 194 Google Scholar .

71 For examples of traditional foraging practices still in operation in Akita in north-eastern Japan after the Second World War, see Homma, Gaku, The folk art of Japanese cooking: a traditional diet for today’s world, Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1991 pp. 8587 Google Scholar .

72 For evidence from Chōshū, for instance, see Gotō, Edo no shoku, p. 49. On the products of hunting and trapping, see Vaporis, Constantine, Tour of duty: samurai, military service in Edo, and the culture of early modern Japan, Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2008, pp. 190191 CrossRefGoogle Scholar ; and Walker, ‘Commercial growth’, pp. 341–4.

73 Thirsk, Food in early modern England, e.g. pp. 133–5, 169–70.

74 See e.g. Pennell, Sara, The birth of the English kitchen, 1600–1850, London: Bloomsbury, 206, pp. 7981 Google Scholar .

75 Clark, Gregory, Huberman, Michael, and Lindert, Peter, ‘A British food puzzle, 1770–1850’, Economic History Review, 48, 2, 1995, pp. 215237 Google Scholar .

76 Yoshifumi, Sasama, Nihon shokuhin kōgyō shi (The history of food processing in Japan), Tokyo: Tōyō Keizai Shinposha, 1979, p. 46 Google Scholar ; Yamaguchi, Meiji zenki keizai, table 28.

77 Thirsk, Food in early modern England, pp. 231–2.

78 For descriptions, see Rath, Japan’s cuisines, ch. 3.

79 For examples, see Homma, Japanese country cooking, p. 65; Hashimoto, Shokutaku no Nihon shi, pp. 170–2. For evidence of such preservation techniques still being practised in the early twentieth century, see Partner, Simon, Toshié: a story of village life in twentieth-century Japan, Berkeley, CA: California University Press, 2004, pp. 1213 Google Scholar , 20.

80 Hashimoto, Shokutaku no Nihon shi, pp. 170–2.

81 Harada, Edo no shokubunka, p. 66; Sasama, Nihon shokuhin, p. 23.

82 Sasama, Nihon shokuhin, pp. 58–9; Takagaki, ‘Yonezawa no shoku seikatsu’, p. 116; Gotō, Edo no shoku, p. 90.

83 See e.g. Reiko, Hayashi, ‘Chōshi shōyū jōzōgyō no shijō kōzō’ (The market structure of the Chōshi soy-sauce industry)’, in Yamaguchi Kazuo and Ishii Kanji, eds., Kindai Nihon no shōhin ryūtsū (The distribution of goods in early modern Japan), Tokyo: Tōkyō Daigaku Shuppankai, 1986, pp. 237238 Google Scholar .

84 Harada, Edo no shokubunka, pp. 74–5.

85 Ibid., pp. 96–7. For more on the processing and marketing of fish and seaweed, see Kalland, Arne, Fishing villages in Tokugawa Japan, Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press, 1995, ch. 12 Google Scholar .

86 Watanabe, Nihon shoku seikatsu, p. 195.

87 Koyama, ‘Hida go-fudoki’, p. 219.

88 Sasama, Nihon shokuhin, p. 65.

89 Harada, Edo no shokubunka, pp. 114–5.

90 Hanley, Everyday things, p. 124.

91 Sidney Mintz, Sweetness and power: the place of sugar in modern history, New York: Penguin, 1985, pp. 114–5; Thirsk, Food in early modern England, p. 225.

92 Muldrew, Food, energy and industriousness, pp. 64–83.

93 See Francks, Penelope, ‘Inconspicuous consumption: sake, beer, and the birth of the consumer in Japan’, Journal of Asian Studies, 68, 1, 2009, pp. 152156 CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

94 Koyama, ‘Hida go-fudoki’, p. 219.

95 Thirsk, Food in early modern England, pp. 247–8; Pennell, Birth of the English kitchen, pp. 65–7.

96 See e.g. Overton, Mark, Whittle, Jane, Dean, Darron, and Hann, Andrew, Production and consumption in English households, 1600–1750, Abingdon: Routledge, 2004, pp. 102108 Google Scholar .

97 Overton et al., Production and consumption, pp. 116–20.

98 Kazuko, Kosuge, Nihon daidokoro bunka shi (History of Japanese kitchen culture), Tokyo: Yūzankaku, 1991, ch. 1 Google Scholar .

99 Harada, Edo no shokubunka, p. 55; Koizumi Kazuko, ‘Kurashi no dōgu (Tools of everyday life)’, in Iwanami Kōza, ed., Nihon tsūshi (Japanese history), vol. 13, Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1994, pp. 355–6.

100 Hashimoto, Shokutaku no Nihon shi, p. 137.

101 Harada, Edo no shokubunka, pp. 148–9; Koizumi, ‘Kurashi no dōgu’, p. 359.

102 Yamaguchi, Meiji zenki keizai, table 28.

103 Muldrew, Food, energy and industriousness, esp. pp. 226–33.

104 Ibid., pp. 64–83.

105 See, for example, Takagaki, ‘Yonezawa no shokuseikatsu’, p. 134.

106 See, for example, Maruyama Yasunari, ‘Kinsei ni okeru daimyō minshū no shokuseikatsu (The diet of lords and commoners in the early modern period)’, in Ishikawa and Haga, Zenshū Nihon no shoku bunka 2, p. 191.

107 Examples from Maruyama, ‘Kinsei ni okeru’, pp. 193–4.

108 Harada, Edo no shokubunka, pp. 56–7.

109 Vaporis, Tour of duty, p. 192.

110 For examples, see Francks, Penelope, The Japanese consumer, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp. 2126 Google Scholar .

111 Harada, Edo no shokubunka, p. 133.

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