Culture in Japanese Comics
Millions of Japanese, including adults, read manga--comic books. Reproducing every popular genre from humor to horror, manga both entertain and educate their readers on subjects as varied as sports, corporate life, the literary classics, and sex. Japanese also learn about food and cooking from gurume (gourmet) or ryori (cooking) manga. One of the most popular is Oishinbo, serialized since 1983. Oishinbo's hero Yamaoka is a newspaper journalist with an unparalleled knowledge of food and a developed palate. Along with his female sidekick Kurita, who shares his culinary sensitivities, Yamaoka seeks dishes for an "ultimate menu" to bequeath to the future. In the process, the pair turns to food to solve a host of interpersonal and social problems, sometimes on an international political level. Oishinbo not only provides information about foreign and local cuisines and recipes, it also propounds an ideology regarding the relationship between food and human relations that contributes toward the construction of Japanese cultural identity.