Theodore C. Bestor
Theodore C. Bestor is the Director of the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and Reischauer Professor of Social Anthropology at Harvard University. He is a specialist on contemporary Japanese society and culture; much of his research focuses on Tokyo, and he has written widely on urban culture and history, local neighborhood society and identity, markets and economic organization, food culture, and popular culture as a defining aspect of urban Japanese life.
Currently his research focuses on Japanese food culture and, in particular, on the globalization of Japanese cuisine and its intense popularity throughout the world, as well as in UNESCO’s recognition of Japan’s traditional cuisine (washoku) as an item of Global Intangible Cultural Heritage. He conducted research on this topic as a recipient of a Fulbright Senior Fellowship in Japan in the Spring of 2015.
Bestor is the author of Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World, published in 2003 based on his research over the past 20 years on Tokyo’s vast seafood market and its role in Japan's sushi trade. He has been focusing on the market's closure in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and is currently working on the second edition of the book. He was a consultant for the documentary “Tsukiji Wonderland” (directed by Endo Naotaro, Shochiku 2016). Victoria Lyon Bestor and he are currently researching the cultural history of distinctive Japanese flavors.
He is the Past President of the Association for Asian Studies (2012-13), and the founding president of the Society for East Asian Anthropology. In June 2013 Bestor received the Commissioner’s Award for the Promotion of Japanese Culture from the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Japanese government (文化庁長官表彰 文化発信部門). In 2017, Bestor received Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon from the Japanese goverment. Also, American Anthropological Association’s Society of Urban, National, and Transnational Anthropology has awarded him “Senior Scholar” award in 2017.
Bestor received his Ph.D. and MA from Stanford University, and his BA from Fairhaven College of Western Washington University. He began his professional career as Program Director for Japanese and Korean Studies at the Social Science Research Council. After teaching at Columbia and Cornell universities, he joined the Harvard faculty in 2001.