This chapter has discussed the development of Japan’s winemaking industry by examining the various responsible actors and their motivations. I argued that the government has played the most significant role in the growth of the Japanese winemaking industry. State promotion of wine culture ultimately aims to revitalize the local agricultural economy and enhance the visibility of local food products in the international market. Additionally, wine culture as a culinary soft power[1] is also expected to help improve the national image of Japan abroad. Although nihonshu and shochu are still considered the ideal drink to accompany Japanese foods and are indeed being promoted by the government abroad, the boom of washoku culture outside Japan is seen by Japanese wine promoters as a good opportunity for branding Japanese wine, especially as an alternative ideal Japanese drink to be paired with Japanese food.

Thus, the development of the Japanese winemaking industry at every stage has been linked to state-led projects. But the goals of these projects have varied from agricultural modernization in the Meiji era to the present-day objective of diversified culinary glocalization. The projects have involved a diverse set of actors promoting Japanese wine culture at home and abroad, including national and regional governments, private companies, individual winemakers, research institutes and consumers.

  • [1] Farrer, ‘Introduction: Traveling Cuisines’, 10-12; see also Assmann’s contribution in thisvolume.
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