Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



As Japan underwent rapid modernization and economic expansion after World War II, its cultural complex transformed into a postmodern mingling of Western and Eastern cultures, merging modern and antiquated tradition (Heine 1995:29). The Japanese have absorbed many Western traditions without immigrating, or living outside of their own (Eastern) society; Japanese marriage rituals exhibit such Eastern and Western cultural minglings. Wedding receptions, regarded as mini-drama, contain traditions of old—material taboos, inedible wedding cakes, beer ceremony, the importance of the color white, as well as blended traditional-modern acts such as toasting champagne while wearing a kimono, and gift-giving rituals incorporating famous American jewelry store wares. Wedding businesses involve such rituals through the presentation of material cultures. This study seeks to understand changing Japanese behaviors and thoughts, asking why many Japanese choose to maintain aspects of tradition ceremony while engaging foreign elements of material culture in similar rituals—in this case, the food of a contemporary Japanese wedding (between the late 1990s and 2001). Additionally, French cuisine is a standard reception meal for modern Japanese weddings. Combinations of Japanese, Western and Chinese cuisines are also served in receptions, following French cuisine structure: hors d’œuvre, soup, meat, fish and desserts. By way of the author’s participant observation in and around wedding receptions and foodways of young Japanese females, this paper also examines diversity in Japanese individuals’ consciousness toward their own culture and heritage, focusing on the intentional incorporation of Western cultural influences into the traditional Japanese wedding ceremony.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Jill Brody