Coffee Life in Japan

Front Cover
University of California Press, 2012 - Social Science - 222 pages
“Cafes are where change happens and people feel most themselves. In this surprising book we see how Japan came of age in the café—where women became free, where people jazz and poetry could reign. And, of course, where coffee is at its perfectionist best. Always a congenial companion and teacher, Merry White shows us a whole society in a beautifully made cup.” —Corby Kummer, The Atlantic

“Merry White's book is vital reading for anyone interested in culture and coffee, which has a surprising and surprisingly long history in Japan. Tracing the evolving role of the country's cafes, and taking us on armchair visits to some of the best, White makes us want to board a plane immediately to sample a cup brewed with ‘kodawari,’ a passion bordering on obsession. “ —Devra First, The Boston Globe

"Coffee Life in Japan features highly engaging history and ethnographic detail on coffee culture in Japan. Many readers will delight in reading this work. White provides an affectionate, deeply felt, well reasoned book on coffee, cafes, and urban spaces in Japan."—Christine Yano, author of Airborne Dreams:  "Nisei" Stewardesses and Pan American World Airways

"Combining unmistakable relish for the subject with decades of academic expertise, Merry White skillfully demonstrates that the café, not the teahouse, is a core space in urban Japanese life. Her portrait of their endurance, proliferation, and diversity aptly illustrates how coffee drinking establishments accommodate social and personal needs, catering to a range of tastes and functions. It is a lovely and important book not only about the history and meanings of Japan’s liquid mojo, but also about the creation of new urban spaces for privacy and sociality." —Laura Miller, author of Beauty Up: Exploring Contemporary Japanese Body Aesthetics
 

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I had not expected to enjoy this book very much when I bought. It looked vaguely interesting and I tend to buy everything I can lay my hands on concerning food. Quite often anthropology is written in ... Read full review

Contents

Illustrations
8
Coffee and the Counterintuitive
19
Modernity and the Passion Factory
42
Performing Perfection
66
Kafekosen
85
Japans Liquid Power
89
Coffee apparatus
90
Taste in the Contemporary Café
108
Hachi Hachi Infinity Café exterior
148
Hachi Hachi Infinity Café interior
155
Knowing Your Place
157
Rihou gallery café
158
Prinz gallery café and restaurant
163
MoAn café
171
Visits to Cafés an Unreliable Guide
173
Efish café 2
174

Hanafusa café
109
Ambient Café Mole exterior
117
Ambient Café Mole interior
124
Webs Grids and Third Places
127
Alone in a brown café
129
Lush Life jazz café
142
Notes
179
Bibliography
193
Acknowledgments
205
Café François 31
208
Kissa Soiree 43
214
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Merry White is Professor of Anthropology at Boston University and is the author of many books, including Perfectly Japanese: Making Families in an Era of Upheaval (UC Press) and The Japanese Overseas.

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