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Tales from the Belly of Japan **Shortlisted for the 2017 André Simon Food and Drink Book Awards**

**Shortlisted for the 2017 André Simon Food and Drink Book Awards**
**Shortlisted for the 2018 Fortnum & Mason Food Book Award**
'The next Bill Bryson.’ New York Times

In this often hilarious yet deeply researched book, food and travel writer Michael Booth and his family embark on an epic journey the length of Japan to explore its dazzling food culture. They find a country much altered since their previous visit ten years earlier (which resulted in the award-winning international bestseller Sushi and Beyond).

Over the last decade the country’s restaurants have won a record number of Michelin stars and its cuisine was awarded United Nations heritage status. The world’s top chefs now flock to learn more about the extraordinary dedication of Japan’s food artisans, while the country’s fast foods – ramen, sushi and yakitori – have conquered the world. As well as the plaudits, Japan is also facing enormous challenges. Ironically, as Booth discovers, the future of Japan’s culinary heritage is under threat.

Often venturing far off the beaten track, the author and his family discover intriguing future food trends and meet a fascinating cast of food heroes, from a couple lavishing love on rotten fish, to a chef who literally sacrificed a limb in pursuit of the ultimate bowl of ramen, and a farmer who has dedicated his life to growing the finest rice in the world… in the shadow of Fukushima. They dine in the greatest restaurant in the world, meet the world champion of cakes, and encounter wild bears. Booth is invited to judge the world sushi championship, ‘enjoys’ the most popular Japanese dish you have never heard of aboard a naval destroyer, and unearths the unlikely story of the Englishwoman who helped save the seaweed industry.

Sushi and Beyond was also a bestseller in Japanese where its success has had improbable consequences for Booth and his family. They now star in their own popular cartoon series produced by national broadcaster NHK.


His writing has been compared to Bill Bryson's... and, like Bryson, he gives a light touch to weighty topics, but the comedy does not diminish the informative heft of this foodie odyssey... Readers will enjoy generous helpings of insights into some of the world's finest sustenance.

Peter Cary

Booth is drawn to the offbeat, and The Meaning of Rice gives us a banquet of the unfamiliar... What Booth does best is a masterclass in Japanese cuisine from haute to caff counter... Beneath the light-hearted surface is a depth of research, respect and affection for Japanese culture and the quiet stoicism of its people.

Lee Langley, Spectator

The Meaning of Rice…will have you salivating for the Land of the Rising Sun.


The Meaning of Rice: And Other Tales from the Belly of Japan by Michael Booth is an energetic, witty travelogue that I enjoyed for its quirkiness and its lightly-worn learning. We live in an age of supermarket sushi, but this book is a million miles from that kind of mass-production. If you want to know more about the mysterious and increasingly ubiquitous yuzu, or about how soba noodles are made—answer: with quite astonishing precision—this is the book for you. For me, Booth is Bill Bryson wrapped in nori and, metaphorically at least, tottering around on a pair of wooden sandals.

Rachel Cooke, Bookseller

It is not just a book of food though, it is a warm and funny tome which sees Michael and his family venture far off the beaten track to find a fascinating cast of food heroes, from a couple lavishing love on rotten fish to a chef who literally sacrificed a limb in pursuit of the ultimate bowl of ramen. It’s fun and full of food and Michael has been dubbed the new Bill Bryson – not bad then!

Rebecca Hay, Clitheroe Advertiser & Times

Both jolly and illuminating – a rare combination.

Neil Sowerby, Taste of Manchester

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    October 16, 2017

    Jonathan Cape

    RRP $40.00

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • EBook


    October 12, 2017

    Vintage Digital

    Online retailers

    • iBooks NZ
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ

Also by Michael Booth

The Almost Nearly Perfect People
Eat Pray Eat
Sushi and Beyond
Doing without Delia
Just As Well I'm Leaving


The Road to Little Dribbling
There It Is Again
Norwegian Wood
Anything Is Possible
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Ghosts of the Tsunami
At My Table
Eat Happy: 30-minute Feelgood Food
The Shepherd's Life
The LEGO® Batman Movie: Ultimate Sticker Collection
Only Dull People Are Brilliant At Breakfast
5 Ingredients - Quick & Easy Food
CWA Classics
The Travelling Cat Chronicles
Rick Stein: The Road to Mexico
The Little Book Of Hygge
Notes on Nationalism