Eric C. Rath, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of History
Primary office:


A specialist in premodern Japanese cultural history, Professor Eric C. Rath’s research ranges from the traditional Japanese performing arts, especially the 600-year old masked noh drama, to dietary culture particularly the origins of Japanese cuisine, regional foodways, sake, confectionery, and tobacco use. While maintaining his interest in Japanese theater, he is now working on several projects related to the traditional diet, ritual uses for food, smoking, local food, and sweets in early modern and modern Japan. His research illuminates patterns of daily consumption as well as the moments when food takes on symbolic meanings such as through the artistry of the chef, use in ritual, and by references to local terroir and literary culture. His editorial work includes Japanese Foodways Past and Present, co-edited with Stephanie Assmann (University of Illinois Press, 2010), and he is currently area editor for the forthcoming Oxford Companion to Sweets.