SURF

Colin Philip Charles Jones

Conspicuous Cuisine: Iron Chef and the 90s in Japan

1989 saw the collapse of the Japanese real estate market as well as the death of the Showa Emperor. As the 90s began, it was clear that the forces that had shaped the country for much of the postwar era were changing dramatically. I am going to Tokyo this summer to look into these changes by somewhat abstruse means. I plan to interview the cast and crew of Iron Chef, the quirky, now internationally known television show that combined cooking and sports-style competition, and aired between 1993 and 2000. I am interested in how Iron Chef exemplifies some of the major trends of the 90s in Japan and, possibly, how the show can modify our understanding of the decade.

Message to Sponsor

The Monday after I found out about the SURF grant, I came home late and pulled up an episode of Iron Chef on my computer; it was the French special, if my memory serves me correct. Anyway, I was enjoying the episode until about halfway through when, out of the blue, I was rocked by a wave of terror. It hit me: I would be talking to these people in a matter of weeks, interviewing the chefs, the announcers, the producers. My first reaction was terror but it has transformed into something else now. It is the feeling that you are not going to be an observer anymore, the feeling that from here on out, you are in it.
  • Major: Asian Studies
  • Mentor: Andrew Barshay, History