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名物 - Meibutsu

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名物 - Meibutsu

Postby pippa » Sun 09.21.2008 2:27 am

Hi everybody. I was reading something about how food has become a destination for tourists, and it made me think of meibutsu. I was wondering if anybody has anything to say about how (or whether) meibutsu can express local Japanese identity. I'm also interested in different perceptions of meibutsu, and the role of meibutsu in Japanese domestic travel. So here are my questions:

*Do meibutsu reinforce local identity? And if so, how?
*How connected are meibutsu and tourism?
*Do the locals purchase meibutsu, or are meibutsu mainly intended for tourists?

I realise these are fairly general questions. Please feel free to respond with specific examples or general opinions.

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Re: 名物 - Meibutsu

Postby AJBryant » Sun 09.21.2008 10:04 am

The most famous "meibutsu" that immediately come to mind are "local" French wines, and Swiss chocolate.

I'm pretty sure people in Switzerland like chocolate, and that people in France love their local wines.

I rather think everyone everywhere is pretty much the same. Something doesn't BECOME a "meibutsu" unless it has enough of a local following to become established as "the local specialty." I mean, that's only basic logic, no?


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Re: 名物 - Meibutsu

Postby pippa » Sun 09.21.2008 8:56 pm

Thanks for your reply!

AJBryant wrote:I rather think everyone everywhere is pretty much the same. Something doesn't BECOME a "meibutsu" unless it has enough of a local following to become established as "the local specialty." I mean, that's only basic logic, no?


Yes, I agree that's the basic logic, but surely there's more to it than that? For example, few people, if any, would deny that Aichi prefecture's meibutsu are kishimen, tebasaki, and akamiso. But I'd argue that foods like okonomiyaki and takoyaki, while being distinctly attached to particular regions/cities, aren't actually meibutsu because they're so common and mainstream (this comment is probably a bit contentious, so I welcome debate).

But then again, one could say that about champagne and chocolate. I think it would be difficult to argue that chocolate is a meibutsu- while you associate it with Switzerland, I might associate it with Belgium. A certain type of chocolate, however, could be a meibutsu. I'd agree though that champagne is a meibutsu, since the Champagne region and the French government have gone to great measures to protect Champagne as something that can only be French, and only come from the Champagne region. Calling sparkling wine made anywhere else in the world 'champagne' can be considered an insult to French national pride and Champagne regional identity.

Which brings me back to Japanese meibutsu...how can they not express some form of local identity?

But for something less philosophical, I'm wondering...Has anyone ever gone somewhere with the specific aim of eating a certain food? Has anybody ever gone on a gourmet/food tour of Japan?
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Re: 名物 - Meibutsu

Postby becki_kanou » Sun 09.21.2008 10:14 pm

pippa wrote:Which brings me back to Japanese meibutsu...how can they not express some form of local identity?

But for something less philosophical, I'm wondering...Has anyone ever gone somewhere with the specific aim of eating a certain food? Has anybody ever gone on a gourmet/food tour of Japan?


I live somewhat close to Kinosaki which is famous for onsen and crab, and I haven't personally gone (mainly because I don't like crab), but many people I know have gone specifically to stuff themselves silly on Kani-zanmai and then relax in the onsen.

Closer to home, I'm always happy when one of my students has gone to Arima onsen, because the tansan-senbei that is the meibutsu there is super-yummy.

(General note: if you want to lose weight, never become a private English teacher. You will be inundated with omiyage and local produce almost every day.)
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Re: 名物 - Meibutsu

Postby pippa » Sun 09.21.2008 11:29 pm

becki_kanou wrote:
I live somewhat close to Kinosaki which is famous for onsen and crab, and I haven't personally gone (mainly because I don't like crab), but many people I know have gone specifically to stuff themselves silly on Kani-zanmai and then relax in the onsen.

Closer to home, I'm always happy when one of my students has gone to Arima onsen, because the tansan-senbei that is the meibutsu there is super-yummy.

(General note: if you want to lose weight, never become a private English teacher. You will be inundated with omiyage and local produce almost every day.)


Haha...I'm the only danger to my figure. When I was in Japan, everytime I went somewhere new I had to buy the chocolate-filled mochi, or the daifuku, or the manju, or whatever else looked good...Omiyage shops are like traps that I can't escape until I buy something (or ten somethings...).

So do you think taste alone makes people want to go and buy meibutsu, or is there something else attached, like status or prestige for having tried something famous for example?
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Re: 名物 - Meibutsu

Postby Harisenbon » Mon 09.22.2008 12:10 am

As I'm nearing the end of my current project at work: Creating the English website for the Japanese Expressway System, I can say with decided certainty that each place in Japan has it's famous meibutu, and that people come from far and wide to eat them. Especially when traveling to a place, people will often go out of their way in order to enjoy a local cuisine. The number of people who come from tohoku to try even a little-known meibutu like shinshu-pork is just staggering.

My mother in law, for example, often goes to Hokkaido to eat fresh crab and ikura. We have it down here in Gifu, but it really doesn't taste as good. When I went to hiroshima, I made sure to try hiroshima-yaki, and when I went to shizuoka, I bought big ole buckets of tea.

Most of the bus-tours and whatnot that I see in Japan almost all revolve around some sort of food or temple. "Go to Aomori for an apple-picking tour!" "Chocolate and sweets in Hasutenbos," etc.

Even going abroad is a similar thing. Going to souther california? Mexican Food. Deep South? BBQ. Hungary? Tokey. France? Wine and Cheese.

I think the whole point of the meibutu (from a toursim standpoint) is to try something that you can't get usually, or to try something that is made especially well in a certain area.

**Sorry for the rambling...
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Re: 名物 - Meibutsu

Postby chikara » Mon 09.22.2008 1:56 am

Harisenbon wrote:..... Going to souther california? Mexican Food. ...

Doh, I had always thought that Mexican food came from Mexico :P :lol:
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Re: 名物 - Meibutsu

Postby Wakannai » Mon 09.22.2008 2:10 am

You were misled. It comes from Texas.
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Re: 名物 - Meibutsu

Postby chikara » Mon 09.22.2008 2:10 am

Wakannai wrote:You were misled. It comes from Texas.
Nah, that's Texmex :wink:
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Re: 名物 - Meibutsu

Postby Harisenbon » Mon 09.22.2008 2:28 am

chikara wrote:
Harisenbon wrote:..... Going to souther california? Mexican Food. ...

Doh, I had always thought that Mexican food came from Mexico :P :lol:


I figured you'd get me on that. ;)
I recently went to socal and pigged out on mexican food, so I just threw that out there as an example.
At some point I want to go to mexico and have REAL mexican food, but montezuma's revenge is the only thing standing in my way. ;)
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Re: 名物 - Meibutsu

Postby pippa » Mon 09.22.2008 3:15 am

Harisenbon wrote:I think the whole point of the meibutu (from a toursim standpoint) is to try something that you can't get usually, or to try something that is made especially well in a certain area.


Thanks Harisenbon, that's exactly what I was looking for!

Ok, next lot of questions:
*What are some of Kyoto's meibutsu?
*And on a slightly different note, are there stereotypes of people from different prefectures (eg. I think I've heard of Tohoku people as being country bumpkins...). What is the stereotype of people from Kyoto?

Finally, this is directed at Chikara and all of the other Aussies on this forum...What are Australian meibutsu? I can't really think of any (unless oranges from Mildura count...?).
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Re: 名物 - Meibutsu

Postby Oracle » Mon 09.22.2008 3:49 am

pippa wrote:*And on a slightly different note, are there stereotypes of people from different prefectures (eg. I think I've heard of Tohoku people as being country bumpkins...). What is the stereotype of people from Kyoto?
[/quote]

People from Kyoto are known for being outwardly very refined and cultured ( Kyoto dialect is very soft/elegant sounding ), but while they're very polite to your face they're a bit two-faced and behind their words are often quite scheming and hostile to outsiders..

Obviously that's a complete stereotype (and probably outdated if it was ever true), but I've heard that sort of sentiment expressed by different Japanese people on occasion.
Last edited by Oracle on Mon 09.22.2008 5:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 名物 - Meibutsu

Postby chikara » Mon 09.22.2008 4:14 am

pippa wrote:..... Finally, this is directed at Chikara and all of the other Aussies on this forum...What are Australian meibutsu? I can't really think of any (unless oranges from Mildura count...?).

A few that come to mind;

Streaky Bay oysters
Moreton Bay Bugs
Salt Bush Lamb
Kangaroo Island Sheep's Milk Icecream
West Australian maron (introduced to Kangaroo Isalnd in SA and big there now)
Pecans from Moree
Pie Floaters from Adelaide
Many regions are famous for a particular dish the majority of which aren't indigenous.
Numerous wine regions most of which have a "signature" wine style or varietal.
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Re: 名物 - Meibutsu

Postby pippa » Mon 09.22.2008 4:30 am

chikara wrote:A few that come to mind;

Streaky Bay oysters
Moreton Bay Bugs
Salt Bush Lamb
Kangaroo Island Sheep's Milk Icecream
West Australian maron (introduced to Kangaroo Isalnd in SA and big there now)
Pecans from Moree
Pie Floaters from Adelaide
Many regions are famous for a particular dish the majority of which aren't indigenous.
Numerous wine regions most of which have a "signature" wine style or varietal.


Hmmm...I haven't heard of any of them...Can you name any Victorian/ southeastern Australian meibutsu?
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Re: 名物 - Meibutsu

Postby two_heads_talking » Mon 09.22.2008 9:35 am

Harisenbon wrote:
Most of the bus-tours and whatnot that I see in Japan almost all revolve around some sort of food or temple. "Go to Aomori for an apple-picking tour!" "Chocolate and sweets in Hasutenbos," etc....


I will second that. Aomori apples are second to none..
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