Trinity College Dublin and Osaka University Joint International Symposium

Japanese Studies in a global context: The art of friendship

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Onomatopoeia, food and manga: Communication of sensory experience

Ryoko Sasamoto, Dublin City University

This talk is concerned with two of the most significant cultural aspects of Japan: food and onomatopoeia. Japan is known for its culinary culture and Japanese food has become one of the most important exports for the county. Onomatopoeia, locating at the edge of language, has been seen as one of the unique characteristics of Japanese language, deeply integrated into Japanese culture, and used to share sensory experience humans undergo in everyday life. Onomatopoeia enables the speaker to communicate something intangible and nebulous allowing for the sharing of impressions. Authors often rely on onomatopoeia when communicating sensual and delicate experiences, particularly evident in food discourse. In recent years we have seen the rising popularity of the new genre gourmet manga. It is thus not surprising that onomatopoeia is highly prevalent in food discourse, including gourmet manga. The presence of onomatopoeia in manga demonstrates Japanese eyes for the marriage between images and words. The visual orientation of Japanese culture, however, sometimes poses challenges for translation. In this talk, we will focus on food manga where sensory experience plays a key role in order to discuss the interaction between senses and how it affected the development of manga as a medium specific to Japan. We conclude with the discussion on how such interactions between senses could be communicated to non-Japanese speaking audience.

Short Biography

Ryoko Sasamoto, BA, MPhil, PhD, is a Lecturer in the School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies (SALIS) at Dublin City University. Since joining SALIS in 2011, she has expanded her research expertise in pragmatics into the emerging interdisciplinary research area of digital Asian studies, working across different disciplines such as pragmatics, Japanese language studies, media studies, psychology, and reception studies. She has secured funding from organisations such as the Japan Foundation and is a winner of Career Enhancement Award for her research (DCU, 2013).