The cooking man in modern Japanese literature TO M O KO AOYA M A
The image of the male professional chef as purveyor of culinary perfection is by no means new, but the cooking man has never before quite enjoyed the profile that he does in contemporary media and popular culture. His amateur counterpart, the “new-age sensitive guy” cooking for his own pleasure or for his friends, lovers and family, and the whole notion of food preparation as part of a cultural construction of masculinity, are quite recent phenomena. This chapter will look at men’s cooking in Japanese literary texts: through an examination of representative texts written in the second half of the twentieth century, it hopes to trace various changes in the construction of masculinity from the postwar period to the present, postindustrialised period. At the outset we need to remind ourselves first of the traditional neglect of food and eating in literature, and also of the broad social changes that have affected the perception of male cooking.