Japan is the land of the “boom,” and you never know what will become popular next. One year all the girls might start wearing horn-rim glasses for no reason, followed by people taking an interest in exotic pets like ferrets, then strange Japanese ASCII art starts showing up on various products. Food trends come out of nowhere, too, like the year everyone was standing in line for hours to buy crepes, or the Great Krispy Kreme doughnut boom of 2006. Recently there’s been a lot of buzz about B-kyu gurume or “B-grade gourmet,” which refers to everyday, down-to-earth foods that aren’t fancy, yet which can be really delicious…foods like sauce katsudon (pork cutlet cooked in sauce over rice), oden (a traditional stew of vegetables and fish), or yakisoba (Japan’s version of Chinese chow mein). Like most named trends in Japan, the term was coined by the media, in this case in an article that appeared in 1986 entitled, “Revenge of the B-grade Cuisine,” which is enjoying a comeback this year. Terms like otaku, yuri and yaoi all got their start in a similar fashion, being coined by journalists giving names to social phenomena they’d observed around them.
A new focus on simple, down-to-earth foods.