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  • Illustrated Debate over Wine and Rice (Shuhanron Emaki)Dining and Socializing in Late Muromachi Japan

Banqueting was a frequent activity in elite society in late medieval Japan. Those in both the higher and lower tiers of the military, noble, and monastic classes organized banquets throughout the year, and these events provided opportunities for interaction among people of different social backgrounds in Kyoto as well as in the provinces. The shogun's yearly ceremonial calendar indicates that he regularly attended dinner gatherings hosted by his leading vassals and by the great Kyoto monasteries.1 Archaeological findings show that in the provinces, too, warrior elites engaged enthusiastically in hosting and attending banquets.2 And so did provincial abbots: the abbot of Chōrakuji 長楽寺 in Kōzuke Province (modern-day Gunma Prefecture), for example, attended more than one hundred dinner parties in the year 1565 alone, meaning that he spent one-third of the year feasting.3 Dining [End Page 189] was therefore an important custom among the medieval ruling elite that deserves our attention.4

Various sources provide evidence of the popularity of banqueting and the forms it took. Written records describe the arrangements for banquets that the shogun's vassals hosted for him,5 or for the ceremonial dinners that monasteries held to demonstrate their prestige.6 Depictions of dining in a variety of settings also figure in narrative scroll paintings from the Kamakura (1185–1333) through the Muromachi (1392–1573) periods.7

The fullest visual source of this sort is the Illustrated Debate over Wine and Rice (Shuhanron emaki 酒飯論絵巻, hereafter called Shuhanron Scroll), dating from the mid-sixteenth century. The scroll, which depicts dinner gatherings at three mansions associated respectively with representatives of the three major sectors of the elite—a courtier, a warrior, and a monk—is the only extant medieval scroll entirely devoted to banquet scenes. As such it offers rare insights into the social circumstances and protocol of banquets as well as the food and beverages served and how these items were prepared.8 This article seeks to explore and contextualize the visual data contained in the Shuhanron Scroll with the aim of shedding light on an important aspect of the social and cultural environment of the period between the Ōnin 応仁 War (1467–1477) and the late sixteenth century. [End Page 190]

Plate 1. Outer gate at Kōhan' s residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.
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Plate 1.

Outer gate at Kōhan' s residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Plate 2. Outer courtyard at Kōhan's residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.2.
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Plate 2.

Outer courtyard at Kōhan's residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.2.

Plate 3. Outer courtyard and front garden at Kōhan's residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.3.
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Plate 3.

Outer courtyard and front garden at Kōhan's residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.3.

Plate 4. Reception room and antechamber at Kōhan' s residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.
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Plate 4.

Reception room and antechamber at Kōhan' s residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Plate 5. Back room and service room at Kōhan' s residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.
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Plate 5.

Back room and service room at Kōhan' s residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Plate 6. Reception room at Nagamochi' s residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.
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Plate 6.

Reception room at Nagamochi' s residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Plate 7. Wine reserve, veranda, and back garden at Nagamochi's residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.7.
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Plate 7.

Wine reserve, veranda, and back garden at Nagamochi's residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.7.

Plate 8. Front garden at Kōhan's residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.8.
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Plate 8.

Front garden at Kōhan's residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.8.

Plate 9. Reception room and antechamber at Kōhan' s residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.
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Plate 9.

Reception room and antechamber at Kōhan' s residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Plate 10. Back room, service room, and kitchen at Kōhan's residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.10.
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Plate 10.

Back room, service room, and kitchen at Kōhan's residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.10.

Plate 11. Reception room at Nakanari' s residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.
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Plate 11.

Reception room at Nakanari' s residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Plate 12. Antechamber and inner courtyard at Nakanari' s residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.
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Plate 12.

Antechamber and inner courtyard at Nakanari' s residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Plate 13. Kitchen at Nakanari' s residence. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.
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Plate 13.

Kitchen at Nakanari' s residence. Courtesy...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1880-1390
Print ISSN
0027-0741
Pages
pp. 189-222
Launched on MUSE
2018-03-14
Open Access
No
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