Public nutrition campaign, c. 1930.

1930sArts & CulturePatriotism/Military
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Ryo-yu-kai (lit.: Provision’s Friends Association) — the organizer of the exhibition — played until 1945 a critical role in enlarging public awareness concerning nutrition. Established in 1925 at the initiative of a group of officers from the Army Provisions Depot, Ryo-yu-kai was, in the first place, to act for the sake of improvement of military catering and mass catering at schools and factories. Eventually, it also became involved in activities aimed at general nutritional education.

“It is not surprising that the timing of the establishment of Ryo-yu-kai coincided with similar developments in Europe. The Japanese professionals were aware of the rise of the so-called ‘newer knowledge of nutrition,’ following the discovery of vitamins, and the new initiatives of the League of Nations and other organisations towards the improvement of mass feeding and public nutrition. This continuity with the rest of the world underlined the modern character of the army’s reforms.

“… Although generally speaking, Ryo-yu-kai focused on the improvement of mass catering, whether military or civilian, it did not entirely ignore home cookery. For example, Ryo-yu-kai devoted a number of pages in each issue to advice for housewives on healthy and economical cooking. Aside from Ryo-yu-kai, articles written by military dieticians, with the indication that they worked for the Army Provisions Depot, also appeared in specialized magazines targeted at women.

“For example, Ie no Hikari (Light of the Household) and Shufu no Tomo (Housewife’s Friend) regularly carried articles dealing with food written by military dietitians. Shufu no Tomo was a monthly magazine with an urban-middle-class readership, and Ie no Hikari was targeted at farm households. Kitayama Yoshio and Mitsuta Momoji, both employed by the Army Provisions Depot, were regular writers for these two magazines.

“From the late 1930s onwards, the spirit of efficiency, economy, and nourishment, which were originally characteristic of military cookery, gradually began to prevail in civilian mass catering as well. State propaganda aimed at popularizing the military model of economical and nourishing cooking in every Japanese home.”

Popularizing a Military Diet in Wartime and Postwar Japan, by Katarzyna J. Cwiertka, 2012

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