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Events - 02.17.2023

Tracing the Source:
Japanese Food Origins


02.17.2023 (Fri.)


01:00 PM - 02:30 PM (PST)


JAPAN HOUSE Salon, Level 5



Time travel may yet be impossible – but through the magic of cuisine, we invite you to take a trip through history to sample the centuries-old predecessors of well-known contemporary Japanese offerings. While Japan’s most iconic dishes like sushi, sake, and fried tofu are known around the world, few know the fascinating story of how they evolved from Edo-era Japan to our plates today. Join us for a special in-person event hosted by experts on Japanese food history, paired with an unforgettable three-course tasting experience. 

This collaboration between Chef David Schlosser of LA’s Shibumi and Japanese food historian Eric C. Rath presents an “edible history” through a talk and tasting bringing to life the cuisine of Edo period Japan (1603-1868). The author of many acclaimed books on Japanese food history, including his latest Oishii: The History of Sushi, Professor Rath will give a lecture on the history of Japanese food culture, interspersed with tastings of corresponding dishes. After the sample-tasting and discussion, a Q&A will allow the audience to ask questions and further develop their understanding of Japanese culinary history.


  • Ganmodoki (Hirōzu) - Tofu Fritter
  • Tezukuri sobagaki with tsuyu - Buckwheat Dumpling
  • Narezushi/Uoji (Shiga Prefecture) - Fermented carp sushi in rice koji and salt, paired with Terada Honke Sake


Menu highlights include versions of the earliest styles of sushi, soba, and fried tofu dumplings, as well as genshu, unfiltered sake from Terada Honke, a sake brewery that has a history of over 340 years. The heritage brewery has used traditional sake brewing techniques refraining from using machines when possible, having zero additives and only using microorganisms inhabiting their own brewery. The sake provided will match the time period of recreated Edo Period recipes to complement a truly historic evening.

Water at Terada Honke Sake
Rice paddies
Washing rice with hand at Terada Honke Sake
Sake-making at Terada Honke Sake
Moromi from sake brewing process at Terada Honke Sake
Mixing process at Terada Honke Sake



Jason Webb
Jason Webb is a professor of comparative literature at the University of Southern California. He also serves as the Associate Director of the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture. Jason is a specialist in Nara/Heian-era “kanshibun” (Chinese-language poetry and prose written in Japan) and researches ways in which ancient Chinese textual materials were received, stored, interpreted, and put to use in Japan during the 7th-10th centuries.

Read more.

His recent work, carried out with former colleagues from the University of Tokyo, analyzes the structure, content, and circulation practices of royal and aristocratic library collections in premodern Japan.


Guest Speakers

Eric C. Rath
Eric C. Rath is a professor of history at the University of Kansas where he teaches courses on food history and premodern Japan. A specialist in traditional Japanese foodways, his books include Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan (2010), Japan’s Cuisines: Food, Place and Identity (2016), and Oishii: The History of Sushi (2021). He is a member of the editorial collective of Gastronomica: The Journal for Food Studies, and he is currently writing a history of sake.

David Schlosser
Owner & Chef of acclaimed Los Angeles Japanese restaurant “Shibumi”. He opened “Shibumi” in 2016 after training in “Kikunoi” in Kyoto. “Shibumi” serves Kappo cuisine using a wide variety of Japanese food ingredients. He was appointed as “Goodwill Ambassador to Promote Japanese Cuisine” by the Japanese Government in 2021. He was awarded one Michelin Star in 2019.

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