food

Mongolian professor says Japan’s name for Mongolian barbecue, 'Genghis Khan,' is disrespectful

37 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

So imagine you’re in Japan and hungry. You’re in luck, because the country’s restaurants offer plenty of filling food options to choose from, like curry rice, tempura, tonkatsu, and Genghis Khan.

What’s that? You’re saying that one of those isn’t a food, but actually the ruler of the Mongolian Empire during the late 12th and early 13th centuries? Well, of course, that’s true too. In Japan, though, “Genghis Khan” does double duty as both the name of the famous military commander and the meaty dish seen in the photo top right.

Japan’s closest equivalent to the type of cuisine called “Mongolian barbecue” in the U.S., the key ingredient in the dish called Genghis Khan are strips of mutton, grilled on a dome-shaped metal plate and surrounded by bean sprouts and sliced onions. It’s particularly popular on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, but also pretty easy to find across Japan.

However, Haiying Yang, a Mongolian-born humanities professor at Japan’s Shizuoka University, takes issue with the dish’s name. “Mongolian people feel the same way about Genghis Khan as Japanese people feel about the emperor of Japan,” Yang told the Japanese-language division of Newsweek. “He is a sacred figure whose name should not be used for a kind of food.”

Yang likened the naming convention to American media personality Kim Kardashian’s recent plan to create a new bodywear line to be called “Kimono Solutionwear.” “When a foreign lingerie maker, or a clothing company or something, was going to use the word ‘kimono,’ it struck a nerve with people in Japan and caused a large reaction,” Yang said in discussing the dish called Genghis Khan. He also claims that the issue has been a sore spot with Mongolian residents, especially in the late 1980s and 1990s.

But how did Genghis Khan’s name become associated with the dish in the first place?According to Japanese food historian Keiichi Takaishi, it all goes back to Yoshiji Washizawa, a Japanese journalist born in 1883 who spent part of his life living and working in Beijing. While there, he and a Japanese coworker ate a mutton dish at a restaurant, and recalled also eating it in Mongolia. They began referring to the dish as “Genghis Khan” when talking with each other, and eventually, Takaishi says, the term caught on among other Japanese people living in China, and eventually spread back to Japan.

It’s worth pointing out, however, that the Japanese-language pronunciation and way of writing for the two “Genghis Khans” is slightly different:

● ジンギスカン / jingisukan = food

● チンギスハン / chingisuhan = historical figure

So what’s the Chinese name for the dish Washizawa and his friend ate? Kaoyangrou, and it actually seems to be more associated with Xian than Mongolia.

Yang’s assertion that Genghis Khan occupies the same place in Mongolian people’s hearts and minds as the emperor of Japan does for Japanese people isn’t the most air-tight analogy, as at any given moment Japan has a current emperor, and attaching the name of someone who’s currently alive and walking around to something you’re about to eat would be surreal in a different way. Still, considering that you don’t go into a restaurant in Japan and order a “Julius Caesar” or “George Washington” when you want a pizza or hamburger, it’s a little odd that “Genghis Khan” calls up as many images of meat as it does history in Japan.

Source: Abema Times via Hachima Kiko, Things Asian, Crawford Creations

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

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© SoraNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

37 Comments
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 “Mongolian people feel the same way about Genghis Khan as Japanese people feel about the emperor of Japan,” Yang told the Japanese-language division of Newsweek. “He is a sacred figure whose name should not be used for a kind of food.”

Guessing that this guy hasn't ever seen a Meiji chocolate bar throughout his time in Japan.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

It's got nothing to do with disrespect. You'd have to understand what the word meant to be disrespectful. For 99.9% of Japanese, Genghis Khan is a group of syllables that means a kind of food.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I prefer the Hitler dish anyways, together with the special Stalin drink and Mao desert.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

My apologies to General Tsao and Pope Benedict.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

The Mongolians should have the decency to shut their mouth with Genghis' grandson Khubla Khan attacking Japan several times during the Kamakura period. The killing of Japanese defenders and atrocities on Iki Tsushima DID NOT earn anybodys "respect" for their "culture"!

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

What's the problem? I usually go to my local Japanese curry place and order the Hirohito special.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

ZZZZ another nobody looking for media attention. People should just get on with their lives and stop being offended by anything and everything cultural.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

"トルコ風呂”、”バカチャン”、など。。。Japanese abounds with words based on ethnic slurs and cultural misunderstanding. Fortunately, most have them have fallen into disuse, but the superior attitude hasn't.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

Naming a plate after one of the biggest megalomaniac genocidal monsters of the history ?????.. Who cares !!..

2 ( +3 / -1 )

payback time Japan for the Kimono incident. I hate being called a gaijin and hate my hometown city of Los Angeles being called Rosu.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I guess General Cho's Chicken is disrespectful too, lol.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Mongolian people feel the same way about Genghis Khan as Japanese people feel about the emperor of Japan

Oh, grow up. Respect whoever you like but don’t expect others to share your feelings.

It’s an adult thing.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I did not read this article just from the headlines I can tell it would be a waste of my time. "Mongolian professor says Japan’s name for Mongolian barbecue, 'Genghis Khan,' is disrespectful" But I bet he'll go into a restaurant and ask for Korean barbeque or Chinese fried rice or Spanish food etc etc … Some people just want attention and cry out about any little thing 'Genghis Khan,' is disrespectful" Really professor.. Sissie.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I guess we should also change the name of literally hundreds of restaurants across the U.S. that have the Genghis Khan name to it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It is disrespectful because it is a lazy way to refer a Mongolian dish. General Tso Chicken was called this way because it was rumored that it was his invention. Whereas referring Genghis Khan as Mongolian barbeque when there was no association between the two other than ethnic-- is just a result of lazy, and apathetic way to properly address/respect other's culture. How would Japanese feel if we call certain Japanese food the: "Hirohito"?! Mutual understanding is needed.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"トルコ風呂”、”バカチャン”、など。。。Japanese abounds with words based on ethnic slurs and cultural misunderstanding.

Don't stop there. You've got me interested. More examples please. Growing up in an industrial city in the Chicago area, I learned a large number of ethnic slurs but I've always felt that the Japanese language did not begin to match American English in this regard. I'd love to be proven wrong and enrich my Japanese vocabulary in the process.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I suppose this would be like the Japanese outcry over the Kimono underwear? It's a two way street.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Yeah, that food named after ie. Julius Caesar is super weird. I’ve never had a Caesar salad in my life!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I'd always learned the Mongolian connection was based on the idea that Mongolian soldiers cooked meat on their helmets - thus the dome shaped cooking apparatus. Perhaps more a case of utensil respect than an ethnic slur.

Anyway, I'm going to treat myself to a Beef Wellington followed by a slice of Victoria Sandwich Cake. I'll wash it all down with a Kamikaze cocktail.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Naming proposals: Dosanko-yaki 道産子焼, Hokkai-barbeque北海バーベキュー

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Turkish Bath" was replaced by "Soapland at the request of the Turkish Embassy decades ago.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What Japanese citizens got angry at is not using the word kimono itself but one person trying to enclose the right to use the word as her apparel brand. On the other hand everybody can use the BBQ name anytime anywhere just like Caesar salad. The professor's argument is typically a category mistake. Thus the Japanese citizen's reaction is not a double standard.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The Earl of Sandwich is MAD!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Yeah, that food named after ie. Julius Caesar is super weird. I’ve never had a Caesar salad in my life!

Caesar Salad is named after Caesar Cardini, the Italian-born restaurateur who invented it in 1924.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If one does not enjoy food from other countries then simply don't eat that food. Chow maine evokes thought of eating dog fur.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

If one does not enjoy food from other countries then simply don't eat that food. Chow maine evokes thought of eating dog fur.

It's chow mien, and if you think the junk you eat in the west represents any kind of Chinese food, you are sorely mistaken.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Chow maine evokes thought of eating dog fur.

It's Chow Mein. "Mein" meaning "noodle".

It evokes the thought of eating fried noodles.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's chow mien, and if you think the junk you eat in the west represents any kind of Chinese food, you are sorely mistaken.

I thought the romanized version was ‘mein’ too, although I’m not familiar with the dialect from which the name of this dish comes from ( I speak basic Mandarin badly ), Mien’ looks a bit strange to me but I’d be happy to take the correction.

As for Chinese food, I’ve eaten good Chinese food in China and outside. A restaurant in the Chinatown in my home town in the UK does cracking Beijing-style cooking. I’m no foodie, but it tasted like what I had in Beijing which was excellent.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

doel  jusinoAug. 27  01:42 pm JST

“I did not read this article just from the headlines I can tell it would be a waste of my time. "Mongolian professor says Japan’s name for Mongolian barbecue, 'Genghis Khan,' is disrespectful" But I bet he'll go into a restaurant and ask for Korean barbeque or Chinese fried rice or Spanish food etc etc …”

Perhaps you should have read the article. You’re comparing apples and oranges. This isn’t about people asking for Mongolian food or Mongolian style xyz. It’s about a dish that is the name of a person.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's less disrespectful than silly. Just like calling a buffet, which works fine in katakana-go, a "viking" because Japanese can't say smorgasbord.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Very silly. There are many food dishes named after famous people. Also, wondering why someone who was responsible for the death of 40 million people or about 10% of the world's population at the time is considered 'sacred'. Just askin'...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There is or will be the dish name in Japan as

Fish from Mt. Everest (Nepealese won't argue but feel proud, however they argued about King Birenda Beer of Swiss)

Bachan Chutney (Will Indians argue?)

Kim Kim Curry (Will Koreans make huge protest about it?)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I thought the romanized version was ‘mein’ too, although I’m not familiar with the dialect from which the name of this dish comes from ( I speak basic Mandarin badly ), Mien’ looks a bit strange to me but I’d be happy to take the correction.

The pinyin is Chǎomiàn, so mien would be closer phonetically, but it seems "mein" is the preferred spelling in the west (and it matched the English pronunciation of the word).

> As for Chinese food, I’ve eaten good Chinese food in China and outside. A restaurant in the Chinatown in my home town in the UK does cracking Beijing-style cooking

Perhaps things are slowly improving. I never once ate Peking Duck that tasted any good outside of Beijing - even in China. I have had Chinese foods in Japan that taste authentic, but they are common foods such as sweet and sour pork, and not high end dishes like one can get in China.

I think one reason may be that people such as Mr. Chow Maine above are conditioned to seeing Chinese food as cheap. Serving authentic Chinese gourmet food would be very expensive outside of China.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

36 years in Japan and never heard of it and I eat everything and anything.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Genghis Khan was a mass murdering piece of filth. Mongolians need better heroes, as do most of my 'murican countrymen. Killers are not heroes except in direct on the spot self-defense, where those defending themselves and others are in a place they belong.

I am going to make it a point to visit a jingisukan restaurant soon just to spit in Yang's eye. Maybe I will send him some photos.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Jeff Huffman

It's less disrespectful than silly. Just like calling a buffet, which works fine in katakana-go, a "viking" because Japanese can't say smorgasbord.

Ah, that is why it is called Viking.

And there was me thinking it was due the amount of food one could eat, while getting drunk and pillaging the serving ladies.

No wonder I get asked to leave.

Clearly, some yakitori owners have never been to Valhalla.

As far as Genghis Khan goes, what with the genocide, biological warfare (he used to like catapulting diseased corpses into enemy camps), and general destructive abilities, I was not aware he had such high moral standing as to be considered "sacred".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's less disrespectful than silly. Just like calling a buffet, which works fine in katakana-go, a "viking" because Japanese can't say smorgasbord.

Do the French and Scandinavians think it silly that English speakers rarely pronounce buffet, smorgasbord and yes, even viking, the way they do?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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