The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

Bulletin of the National Museum of Ethnology

2019-Vol. 44, No. 2

October 29, 2019 Publication

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The Decay and Reconstruction of Nominal Classes in Srinagar Burushaski
Noboru Yoshioka

There are four major nominal classes in the Burushaski language and all nouns are classified into the following groups according to their referents: human males, human females, concrete entities, and abstract entities. This paper demonstrates that the inherent noun classification system of the Burushaski variety spoken by the younger generation of immigrants in the Bota Raj colony in Srinagar is decaying and being reconstructed in an altered form.
Noun classification systems are generally dynamic and may decline in number or even become lost altogether. Some languages have (partially) lost their classification systems through contact with other languages that have simpler noun classification systems or no classification systems at all. Some languages have neutralised previously distinct classes into a new class, decreasing the overall number of classes as a result.
However, the Srinagar Burushaski of young people does not merely demonstrate the decay of nominal classes. Having initially lost the basis of categorisation for noun classification, they have since re-categorised all nouns, thereby avoiding incoherency in the nominal class system. As a result, the number of reconstructed nominal classes has increased to five: human males, human females, animals, concrete entities, and abstract entities. It is worth noting that no adjacent languages have a noun classification system that specifically distinguishes animals from others.


1 Introduction
2 Decay of nominal classification systems
3 Dialects and history of Burushaski
4 Inherent nominal classification system in Burushaski
5 Agreement and concord systems with nominal classes in Srinagar Burushaski
  5.1 Agreement on copulae and verbs
  5.2 Suppletive verbal roots
  5.3 Plural forms of nouns
6 Nascent reconstruction of nominal classes and classification in Srinagar Burushaski
7 Conclusion

Key Words:Burushaski, language change, nominal classes, categorisation


Interactions between Manual and Automated Labor in Factory Production
Aiko Hibino


This study clarifies the relation between manual and automated work in the context of labor production from the perspectives of technology and organization studies. According to the theoretical framework developed by Nakaoka, a technology historian, the relation between manual and automated work is configured as a process by which the factory, as a single organization, develops its practices of manual and automated work. Based on a field survey of food-processing factories and machining shops in Aomori Prefecture, Japan, the author examined the complicated relation between manual and automated work in the mechanization process to elucidate the new roles of manual labor and machine. The practice of factory production reinforces the importance of manual work, at least at the discourse level, which is designated as the “revival of manual work,” whereas the body of the machine is assigned a new symbolic role. Additionally, we referred to difficulties in abilities of process control. Characteristics of the relation between manual and machinery work seem to reflect the dynamics of modern factories related to their adaptation to the xternal market environment characterized as high added value and fluidization of production. The concluding part of the report presents an examination of how such a heoretical framework is useful to analyze the coming age of automation.

Key Words:Aomori, factory production, manual and machinery work, technology studies


Changing Authenticity of Heritage Food: A Case Study of Fermented Mackerel Sushi in Coastal Southern Fukui
Shingo Hamada


This ethnographic paper is intended to report the cultural politics of fermented pressed mackerel sushi (saba heshiko-narezushi) in the Uchitomi Bay area of Fukui Prefecture, Japan, to elucidate how heritage food producers sustain their local food system while negotiating its authentic taste among producers and with consumers. Heshiko-narezushi, a slow food crafted through the twice-fermented process, includes mackerel, salt, rice bran, rice, and koji rice. This article first presents an overview of the historical context of the regional purse seine fishery for mackerel and satouri, a local food system that connects coastal fishing communities with inland farming communities, and heshiko-narezushi. Second, this article presents an examination of the ingredients and procedures of crafting heshiko-narezushi, with attention to the introduction of new materials in the making. Concern over sodium intake and changing taste preference to sweetness over saltiness implicitly lead local artisanal producers to negotiate the authentic taste of their fermented mackerel sushi. Some of those producers use less salt and add more koji mold and/or rice wine to make the taste of their heritage food more accessible and acceptable to non-local people and to future generations.

Key Words:Anthropology of food, food culture, taste, authenticity, fermented food


Historical Trends of Whale Meat Trade in Postwar Japan: From Substitutive Industrial Food to Traditional Post-Industrial Food
Fumitaka Wakamatsu


Despite the moratorium on commercial whaling adopted by International Whaling Commission in 1982, Japan remains among the few nations that continue to hunt and consume whales as food under the status of “scientific research.” Nevertheless, with today’s limited supply, whale meat has ceased to be a common diet for Japanese consumers; rather it has been transformed into a luxurious delicacy that is mainly served in expensive restaurants and souvenir shops to support local tourism. This paper presents an exploration of the historical transition of whale meat, tracing how the whaling industry capitalizes on material scarcity by enhancing symbolic and economic values of whale meat as an “exotic traditional food.” From the perspective of “food cultural industry,” this paper presents examination of processes of production, distribution, consumption, and marketing of whale meat during the post-war and post-moratorium periods, which have promoted the romantic characterization of whale meat as a cherished “traditional” food in Japan.

Key Words:whaling, whale meat, industrial food, food cultural industry


Growth and Tension in Local Food Systems in the United States and Japan
Ethan D. Schoolman and Alexander Ho


As demand for locally-sourced food in the United States continues to grow, the biggest challenge for American farmers and food businesses will be to meet this demand while staying true to the original values of the social movement for local food. At the same time, interest in local food is far from unique to the United States, or even to the industrialized West. Civil society groups and public campaigns promoting local food have a long history in Japan. And the idea that robust local food systems can help to address concerns about food safety and globalization has recently gained a foothold in China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, and South Korea. “Local” food, perhaps surprisingly, is becoming a “global” phenomenon. This paper therefore has two goals. First, this paper explores the history and current state of the American local food movement and suggests ways that crucial challenges might be met. Second, this paper discusses ways in which challenges faced by local food movements in Japan and other nations of East and Southeast Asia may require solutions that are both similar to and different from those proposed for the American case.

Key Words:local food, sustainability, chisan-chisho, Teikei, choku-bai-jo


Umami Perception and Establishment in Contemporary Japan
Yoshimi Osawa


This paper presents an exploration of how perceptions of umami have developed and changed in terms of food culture and society in contemporary Japan. Umami taste was discovered in the early 20th century in Japan. Its discovery and popularization as a taste concept have been related closely to the industrialization of monosodium glutamate (MSG or umami) seasoning. Following the mass production and marketing of MSG as an umami product, umami has been conceptualized as a fifth taste through materialization and language based on scientific findings. This paper describes that perceptions of umami consist of both positive and negative elements such as dashi, MSG, and as a new taste constructed based on various factors such as personal taste experiences, food culture, and media.

Key Words:taste, umami, taste industry, MSG, modern Japan


Preference of Sweetness and Food Culture in Taiwan Society: Historical Ecology of Production and Consumption of Sugar
Atsushi Nobayashi


This paper presents a description of how Taiwanese people have come to prefer sweet foods and beverages from the perspective of historical ecology of sugar, which has an important role in preference. The process of consolidating sweet foods and beverages in Taiwan society and the changes of economic structure and health consciousness are discussed using historical sugar production records and ethnographic descriptions of foods recorded during Japanese colonial periods (1895–1945). Taiwan has a historical ecology by which people tasted sweet foods and beverages, producing the background of the present day: Taiwanese people continue to prefer sweet drinks such as bubble tea.

Key Words:food culture, sweet, sugar, Taiwan, bubble tea