Japan’s Wine Tourism: Culinary Politics in Japanese Wine World
This presentation provides a case study of wine tourism in Japan using the methods of cultural sociology. It argues that Japan’s wine tourism represents a form of culinary nationalism. This, however, is not contradictory to the globalization of culinary culture. This research is theoretical but has practical implications for wineries and tour planners in and outside Japan.
The majority of research treats wine tourism as a commercial product. However, this research studies it as a cultural practice. It examines wine tourism through “wine worlds approach”, building upon Howard Becker’s idea of “art worlds” (Art Worlds, Chicago, 1982). I will introduce this approach, which describes the networks, through which multiple actors interact to create a cultural practice and imbue it with shared meanings. A “wine world” is an interpretative network consisting of actors interacting with one another to create the network. The wine world came to be global when the actors began to interact regularly at a global level.
By this approach, I will show that Japan’s wine tourism is a cultural practice, adopted from the global wine world by a set of Japanese actors and incorporated into Japan’s touristic and culinary practices. The local wine tourism is constructed with a tight tie to the global wine world. Domestic tourists are targets. This means they come to the wine tourism to experience not only the local but also the global wine culture. Wine tourism has its practical meanings for local society. However, from a sociological perspective, it could be understood as an “invented” educational site based upon concepts from the global wine world to inform domestic Japanese tourists that wine is part of Japan’s culinary culture. This construction in the domestic context is directly connected to the enhancement of Japan’s wine culture and also to the elaboration of its nation’s status in the global wine world.