A specialist in premodern Japanese cultural history, Eric C. Rath’s research ranges from the traditional performing arts, especially the 600-year old masked noh drama, to dietary cultures particularly the origins of Japanese cuisine, regional foodways, sake, confectionery, and tobacco use. While maintaining his interest in Japanese theater, he is now working on several projects related to the traditional diet, ritual uses for food, smoking, local food, and sweets in early modern and modern Japan. His research illuminates patterns of daily consumption as well as the moments when food takes on symbolic meanings such as through the artistry of the chef, use in ritual, and by references to local terroir and literary culture. His editorial work includes Japanese Foodways Past and Present, co-edited with Stephanie Assmann (University of Illinois Press, 2010); he is area editor for the Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets (2015); and he serves on the editorial board of the journal Global Food History.
Professor Rath’s teaching focuses on premodern Japan (especially the years 1200-1868) through introductory courses such as on the history of the samurai, upper level classes on the medieval and early modern periods, and seminars for graduate students that include instruction in reading classical texts. Having served as principal investigator for a US State Department funded service project in rural Tibet, he has broadened his teaching to include Tibetan history. His research interest in Japanese dietary culture enables him to teach classes in food studies such as his Food in History course and a new course on Japanese beverages. He anticipates offering more classes on Japanese foodways in the future, and he teaches online and hybrid versions of his classes such as his course on the samurai.
Ph.D., Premodern Japanese History, University of Michigan
M.A., Japanese History, University of Michigan
B.A., History, Skidmore College
- Japanese Culture
- Food history
- Japanese food
- Late Medieval and Early Modern Japan
- Japanese dietary cultures
Rath, E. (in press). Japan's Cuisines: Food, Place and Identity, London: Reaktion Books.
Rath, E. C. (2016). Hell's Kitchen and the Joy of Cooking: Culinary Themes in Kumano Mandala. Impressions, 106-127.
Rath, E. C. (2015). The Magic of Japanese Rice Cakes. In C. Helstosky (Ed.), Routledge History of Food (pp. 3-18). New York: Routledge Press.
Rath, E. C. (2015). The Invention of Local Food. In J. Farrer (Ed.), The Globalization and Asian Cuisine: Transnational Networks and Culinary Contact Zones (pp. 145-64). Palgrave Macmillan Publishers.
Goldstein, D. & Rath, E. (Eds.). (2015). Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets (D. Goldstein & E. Rath, Eds.). Oxford University Press.
Rath, E. C. (2015). Sex and Sea Bream: Food and Prostitution in Hishikawa Moronobu’s 'A Visit to the Yoshiwara'. In . (Ed.), Seduction: Japan's Floating World: The John C. Weber Collection ed. Laura W. Allen (pp. 28-43). San Francisco, CA: Asian Art Museum .
Rath, E. C. (2013). The Tastiest Dish in Edo: Print, Performance, and Culinary Culture in Early Modern Japan. East Asian Publishing and Society, 3(2), 184-214.
Rath, E. C. (2010). Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan, University of California Press.
Rath, E. C. (2010). Japanese Foodways Past and Present (E. C. Rath & S. Assmann, Eds.). University of Illinois Press.
Rath, E. C. (2004). The Ethos of Noh: Actors and Their Art, Harvard University Asia Center Press.