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Eating after the triple disaster : new meanings of food in three post-3.11 texts Gai, Rosaley


Known colloquially as “3.11,” the triple disaster that struck Japan’s northeastern region of Tōhoku on March 11, 2011 comprised of both natural (the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resultant tsunami) and humanmade (the nuclear meltdown at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant incurred due to post-earthquake damage) disasters. In the days, weeks, months, and years that followed, there was an outpouring of media reacting to and reflecting on the great loss of life and resulting nuclear contamination of the nearby land and sea of the region. Thematically, food plays a large role in many post-3.11 narratives, both through the damage and recovery of local food systems after the natural disasters and the radiation contamination that to this day stigmatizes regionally grown food. This thesis seeks to examine the new meanings of food in three Japanese-language texts produced after 3.11. First, I examine Kawakami Hiromi’s (1958 - ) “Kamisama” (1994) and its rewritten version “Kamisama 2011” (2011) to consider the textual construction of human and animal bodies and their interaction with food and environment through a salted fish, made newly inedible in the 2011 version, to consider the new potential of food after 3.11. Next, I examine loss and anxiety tied to geographical place, as well as the portrayal of “truth” in the post-3.11 chapters of Kariya Tetsu’s (1941 - ) controversial and long-running manga about food, Oishinbo (1980 - present). Finally, I consider the ways that post-3.11 thought has influenced the representation and issues of food in “Iganu no ame” (2014), a short science fiction story by popular idol and writer Katō Shigeaki (1987 - ), in order to consider ways that precarity now includes shifts and changes in eating after the triple disaster. In these three texts, I find common themes of memory and intimacy through food, mistrust toward the “official” positions on the safety of food after 3.11, and the articulation of new anxieties in the present and future of eating.

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