Japan Maps Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, UT Library Online (@2003, General Libraries, Univ. of Texas at Austin).
Su Dong Po, 11th c.
"Stare at the underbelly of
Asia and behold
"The time has now
come to honor Japan's culture and
India: The Country
you'll find annotated links to
maps & general resources,
languages & writing,
what is "culture"?
religion & philosophy,
orature & literature,
theater & performance arts, and
If you find inaccuracies, bugs, or other relevant websites, please let me know: email@example.com
maps&generalresourcesMaps of Asia (Univ. of Texas, most from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency): including maps of Asia, and East Asia; and maps of Japan (shaded relief map), political map of Japan, and links to 5 other maps of Japan
A Good Place to Start: Teaching & Learning about Japan: An Introduction to Japan, "the first in a projected five part series of illustrated Web presentations, uses 'picture book' quality photographs and a series of maps to illustrate basic features of Japanese geography, to profile (and physically locate) major Japanese urban centers, to suggest continuities between past and present and to introduce the Japanese people in a 'slide lecture' format." (Full slide show takes about 30 min.) Japan's Geography; map of population centers; cities of Japan: Tokyo (Edo); Kyoto (Heian, the Japanese imperial capital from 794 to 1868, "a living museum of the nation's past"); Nara, close to the site of Japan's first permanent capital of ancient Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples; Hiroshima, a city remembered as the target of the first atom bomb ever used in warfare, and today a monument to humankind's inhumanity and its hope for peace, with Nagasaki, where the second atom bomb was dropped, on the island of Kyushu; nearby is the largest Chinese community in Japan, as well as Deshima Island, "the bustling port which over the centuries has played host to Chinese, Dutch, English and American trading vessels and which for 250 years between 1632 and 1854 served as Japan's only official link to the outside world"; Sapporo, on the northern-most main island of Hokkaido. Images of "The Clash of Old and New":
"We, who come from a relatively 'young' society, slowly begin to realize that modern Japan is the end result of an historical tradition which dates back, not a mere three centuries or so, but rather some fifteen hundred years, to at least the third century. Furthermore it becomes apparent that modern Japan does not reject that past but rather lives comfortably amidst its reminders, alive to the present yet grounded in an appreciation of a long and rich historical tradition. " Images of "A Nation of People": "...it is with these people, their traditional culture, its origins and developmental patterns, that we are fundamentally concerned as we seek to better understand contemporary Japan and its modern fate."
Asian Studies Development Program (ASDP) Syllabus & Bibliography
Collection Online: click Resources
on Asia for College Courses,
select a subject area you'd like to know more about, and browse
the topics, reading lists and bibliographies (Kapiolane Community
College, the East-West Center and the Univ. of Hawai'i at Manoa)
Japan: Subject Guide (Council on East Asian Libraries, Univ. of Oregon)
Japan Web Guide (Forest Linton), including links to Japan Buddhist Arts
Japanese WWW Resources (Michael Watson)
Contemporary Japanese Culture & Society (Japan Information Network)
language&writingThe Human Languages Pages: Japanese (Willamette Univ.) with links to The
Kid's Window (Japan Window
Project, Stanford University and NTT, 1995); and The
"the Largest site on the WWW that teaches Japanese for
free," and much more--"featured in Japan's Largest
Newspaper, The Yomiuri Shinbun, as the best source to
Key Aspects of Japan (in English and Japanese versions) and updated version of the 1993 Traditional Japanese Culture & Modern Japan. See, for example, discussions of modern Japanese Language: Hogen (Dialects), Keigo (Honorific language), Moji (Characters), Nihongo (Japanese), Nihongo-kyoiku (Japanese-language education): "...[there are] three kinds of moji: the ideographic Chinese characters known as kanji and the phonetic characters known as hiragana and katakana. Originally, Japanese had no moji, but in the fifth century documents came to be recorded using Chinese characters. The Japanese devised the way of reading those Chinese characters in a Japanese way and, based on Chinese characters, created the phonetic characters. The basis for phonetic moji was established in the Heian Period (794-1185), and it is with such moji that Murasaki Shikibu (978?-1026?) completed the world's oldest novel, "Genji Monogatari"(The Tale of Genji). Today, katakana is mainly used for foreign words, and Chinese characters and hiragana for composing sentences. In addition, it is possible to write only in phonetic characters, including Roman letters." Or see Traditional Japan: Culture & Arts, for a discussion of Shodo (Calligraphy): "Shodo is the art of drawing characters with a brush and India ink to express spiritual depth and beauty. Shodo originally came from China, but in Japan Chinese characters (kanji) were combined with the Japanese syllabary (kana), devised in Japan, to create this unique character art. With a brush soaked in India ink one can freely control, unlike with a pen, the thickness and the tone of the characters. That is how the calligraphers are able to express their spirits and ideas. Beyond the standard square style of writing (kaisho), calligraphic style can be divided into the somewhat simplified semicursive style(gyosho) and the still more simplified cursive style (sosho). Except for New Year's cards and the like, a brush is ordinarily not used for writing, but shodo is included in the elementary school curriculum.
historyJapan before Written History: Migrations; From Hunters to Rice Growers: Jomon period and Yayoi period;
Birth of a Nation under Chinese Influences: Nara
and Kyoto (brief historical
essays focusing on technology with images from ICT, Inc.)
Maps of Ancient Japan from Richard Hooker's World Cultures Atlases
Perspectives on Chinese Society: Anthropological views from Japan 1995 Suenari Michio, J.S. Eades and Christian Daniels (eds.), featured monograph from the CSAC [Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing] Monograph series, Univ. of Kent.
See also Hum 210 Timelines of Asia: China, India, Japan
Timeline of Japan
Major Events in Japanese History (Gen-ichi Nishio)
Japan: History links (Council on East Asian Libraries, Univ. of Oregon)
History of Mathematics: Japan
History of Japanese Education (Robert Crowley)
...find out from this excellent website offered by the WSU Learning Commons - What Is Culture? (Authors:Eric Miraglia, Dept. of English/Student Advising and Learning Center; Dr. Richard Law, Director, General Education; and Peg Collins, Information Technology, Learning Systems Group). See the baseline definition of culture, and pursue links on important definitions, quotations, and discussions of culture. Review related links to Women, Culture, & Power, the introduction to Social Organization, or the link to Woman & Gender in the Ancient World. A helpful glossary of key terms, like the definition of Symbol, is also provided .
Religion & Religious Studies links (Mike Madin,
new educational directory Academic Info)
From the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance: Descriptions of 63 Religions, Faith Groups, & Ethical Systems, including Buddhism, Confucianism, Shinto, and Taoism.
Religious & Sacred Texts, including links to the Analects, Taoist, and Zen texts.
From Richard Hooker's World Cultures ("an internet classroom and anthology"):
Japan Glossary, including Shinto, kami, Heian Japan (794-1192), Amida Buddhism, Tokugawa Japan (1603-1868), mono no aware, the flowering of Japanese literature, Zen Buddhism
Buddhism, including origins, Japanese Buddhism, Buddhist readings & glossary of key concepts
Shinto: see What
is Shinto? and
and the Sacred Dimension of Nature" (Dr. Carmen Blacker, Univ. of
Shinto: The Japanese Heart - Tour a Shinto Shrine
Visit "Shinto, Primal Religion and International Identity" (Michael Pye, Marburg Journal of Religion 1.1,April 1996) U of Pittsburgh's Shrine of Ise (essay and images).
Japanese Buddhism: A Historical Overview (with images)
Resources for the Study of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism
Buddhism for Beginners (Jeff Hooks, St. Petersburg Junior College)
Buddhist Studies and the Arts with many useful links (hosted by Randall R. Scott, B.S., M.Div., M.A. Research Associate in Buddhist Studies and Classics, Washington University in St. Louis; & The Doyle Gallery)
Journal of Buddhist Ethics (Penn State University/Goldsmiths College [London], USA/UK)
Exploring Religions (Professor Paul Flesher, Univ. of Wyoming), including Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam.
Buddhism (Eitarou Aoyama)
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Studies Development Program (ASDP)
Syllabus & Bibliography Collection: Online Resources on Asia for College Courses:
Literature, with reading lists
and bibliographies, provided by the Kapiolane Community College,
the East-West Center and the Univ. of Hawai'i at Manoawith
reading lists and bibliographies, provided by Kapiolane Community
College, the East-West Center and the Univ. of Hawai'i at Manoa
Japanese Creation Myth (712 CE) from Genji Shibukawa: Tales from the Kojiki (an excerpt from Reading About the World, Volume 1, edited by Paul Brians, Mary Gallwey, Douglas Hughes, Michael Myers, Michael Neville, Roger Schlesinger, Alice Spitzer, and Susan Swan; published by American Heritage Custom Publishing.)
Tales of Wonder: Tales from Japan (Richard Darsie, UCDavis) Tales 2-3 below are taken from Japanese Folk Tales, by James E. O'Donnell, illustrated by Kasumi Nagao. Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers, 1958.
1.The Tongue-Cut Sparrow; 2.Tiny Finger; and 3.Urashima Taro.
See also The Kid'sWindow: Peach Boy (Momotaro, Stanford Univ. & NTT)
of Japan's Literature (The
Web Kanzaki, based on Japan: A Pocket Guide, Foreign
Press Center 1996) Japanese Literature (and many more topics & links) from Japan, my Japan!-- A Guide to Japan.
Japanese Literature (resources from Duke Univ.), including Guides to Literature in Translation and links to WWW Sites for Japanese Authors
"To the Japanese
mind, Fujisan is much
more than a single volcano. It is regarded as a sacred object,
and the climbing of Mt. Fuji has
long been a religious practice. It has exerted a great influence
upon Japanese culture. Throughout the history of Japanese art and
literature, this holy mountain has been the subject of
uncountable poems and pictures. The yearning for greatness and
beauty symbolized by Fujisan
led the ancients to name many local mountains and towns after
this beautiful mountain."
Mt. Fuji photo gallery (Yoshiyuki Miyata):
Nihon-no-Kotowaza--Japanese proverbs: click and discover their literal translations and equivalent English proverbs. For example: Nihon-no-Kotowaza #2: Baka wa shinanakya naoranai - Literally: A fool is only cured by dying; English equivalent: Once a fool, always a fool.
Japanese Studies links, focusing on pre-modern literature--see
English only version if you prefer (Michael Watson, Meiji Gakuin University;
Yokohama; and postgraduate student, working on the medieval
Japanese narrative The Tale of the Heike [Heike monogatari] at the
Faculty of Oriental Studies, Oxford Univ.). See photo of Michael Watson in an amateur Noh group, the one
attired in formal Noh costume, mon-tsuki
hakama, preparing to sing "the lead shite
in the play Tadanori, based on incidents related
in the Heike monogatari. Another member
of the group sang the part of the waki, a priest,
while five others including a professional sang the musically
difficult part of the chorus (jiutai). This kind
unaccompanied singing is called su-utai"--with notes for students.
Text Initiative is a collaborative
effort of the University of Virginia Library Electronic Text
Center and the University of Pittsburgh East Asian Library
"to make texts of classical Japanese literature available on
the World Wide Web." Some of the electronic texts require
software that reads Japanese characters; however, good
introductory articles and some translations are in English.
See Lewis Cook's Introduction What is Kokin Wakashu? (A Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poems, 10th century). The majority of the 1,111 Japanese poems in this anthology are "in the form called tanka (literally "short poem or song"), but traditionally referred to as waka ("Japanese song/poem") or simply as uta ("song, poem") because this was the predominant canonical form of Japanese poetry from perhaps the 8th century until the late 19th century" (Cook). The Japanese preface to this anthology opens with the famous words "Japanese poetry takes as its seed the human heart."
Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, or 100 Poems by 100 Poets, an anthology of "waka" or tanka court poetry possibly compiled by the 13th-century critic and poet Fujiwara no Sadaie, also known as Teika). See Introduction: What is Ogura Hyakunin Isshu?, A Note on the English Translation and Japanese and English versions of the poems, and woodblock print illustrations of the poems from a 19th-century Meiji-era edition of the Hyakunin poems designed for women, and MacCauley's translation of Hyakunin-Isshu. Don't miss the earlier beautiful ukiyo-e style illustration by Hokusai (reproduced in Peter Morse, Hokusai: One Hundred Poets, New York: Braziller, 1989).
Forthcoming texts are to include Manyoshu and Basho's Oku no Hosomichi so check this site again!
(Japanese Text Initiative/U. Virginia Library Electronic Text Center & U. Pittsburgh East Asian Library)
Murasaki Shikibu (978?-1026?), Japanese writer and the author of what is generally considered the world's first novel, The Tale of Genji (first trans. by Arthur Waley in 6 vol., 1925-32).
Tanka and Sijo Poetry (Japanese and Korean); Study Guide for Classic Chinese and Japanese
Love Poetry (Paul Brians,
Washington State Univ.)
Glossary of Poetic Terms (Robert G. Shubinski, 1996, 1997)
Death and Literature in Japan (student essay by Heather Ornelas)
Basho's Narrow Road: Spring and Autumn Passages: Two Works by Matsuo Basho (Trans. Hiroaki Sato, Stonebridge Press announcement), with excerpts & images
People are doing nothing
In the small village.
--Shiki Masaokai, 1867-1902
(See Shiki and Ishite-ji or Hum 210 Haiku page)
(Yahoo); Introduction to International Haiku
Dhugal J. Lindsay's Haiku Universe, plus links to Renga/Renku and Tanka.
Otsuji on haiku
The World of Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933)
Prize Winners in
1968 KAWABATA, YASUNARI, Japan, 1899 - 1972: "for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind"
1994 OE, KENZABURO, Japan, b. 1935-: "who with poetic force creates an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today" (and see more links from Yahoo)
The Remains of the Day,
by Kazuo Ishiguro, won the 1989 Booker McConnell Prize (administered by the National Book League in the United
Kingdom, awarded to the best full-length novel written in English
by a citizen of the UK, the Commonwealth, Eire, Pakistan or South
Zen Comedy in Commonwealth Literature: Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day (essay)
and from: http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/hypertext/landow/post/ishiguro/kibio.html
Kazuo Ishiguro's Life and Works (1954- ) Randall Bass, Assistant Professor of English, Georgetown University
interested in is not the actual fact that my characters have done
things they later regret.
I'm interested in how they come to terms with it."
Kazuo Ishiguro, October 9, 1995
Kazuo Ishiguro: A Timeline
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The Asia Society,
"America's leading institution dedicated to fostering understanding of Asia
and communication between Americans and the peoples of Asia and the
Pacific," is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization
dedicated to "building awareness of the more than thirty countries broadly
defined as the Asia-Pacific region - the area from Japan to Iran, and from
Central Asia to New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands. Through art
exhibitions and performances, films, lectures, seminars and conferences,
publications and assistance to the media, and materials and programs for
students and teachers, the Asia Society presents the uniqueness and
diversity of Asia to the American people."
http://www.asiasociety.org/ [accessed Aug. 2001]
of Japan's Fine Arts (The
Web Kanzaki, from Japan: A Pocket Guide,
Foreign Press Center: 1996)
Timelines of Art History (Michael D. Gunther, 1997) "selective resources on the art history of ancient and non-Western civilizations" including China, India, and Japan: see Japan Resources
Introduction to Asian Art (Prof. Katheryn M. Linduff, Dept. of Art History, Univ. of Pittsburgh) will yield rich cultural backgrounds on China, India, and Japan, if one follows with patience the frames of the illustrated course notes.
Japanese Art Slides by period/style (http://www.colby.edu/art/AsianArt/japan),
Jomon "cord pattern" pottery (5000-200 BCE);
Yayoi period Bronze Bell (200 BCE-CE 200);
Kofun era Bronze Mirror (CE 200-500);
Shaka Triad, Buddhist art (ca. 623) of Asuka period (CE 552-645);
Shitenno, clay statue of Nara period (710-794);
Horyu-ji (8th c., Nara): Four groups of dry clay figures at the floor of the five- story pagoda.
Ho-o-Do "Phoenix Hall" of Byodo-in (ca. 1053); Amida Buddha (ca. 1053) by Jocho; and beautiful narrative picture scrolls (1, 2, 3, 4, ca. CE 1120-1140) from the Tale of Genji, all of late Heian period.
Scene from Tales of Heike (early 13th c.) from Kamakura Shogunate era (1185-1333);
Photo of Zen garden Ryoan-ji at Kyoto (late 15th c.); Colors of Streams, Hues of Mountains, painting attri. to Shubun (early-mid 15th c.); and Zen Buddhist Raku-ware tea bowl, designed by Sen-no-Rikyu (1521-1591); all of Muromachi/Ashikaga period (1392-1573);
Painted screen of Women of Fashion at Leisure (early Edo/Tokugawa period, ca. 1600-1650); and Great Wave from Kanagawa from 36 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Katsushika Hokusai of Edo/Tokugawa period (1615-1868)
British Library Collections: Courtesan reading a picture book.
One of the 167 girls depicted in Ehon seirô bijin awase,
the Beauties of the Green Houses' by Suzuki Harunobu. Five vols. (Edo, 1770)
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is the largest museum in the western world devoted to the arts and cultures of Asia, with permanent collections representing over 40 Asian countries spanning 6,000 years of history. See exhibitions and follow links to the special exhibit Four Centuries of Fashion: Classical Kimono from the Kyoto National Museum.
Asian Arts, an on-line journal "for the study and exhibition of the arts of Asia," offers many riches with virtual galleries and illustrated article abstracts.
A Visual Literacy Exercise
(Lee A. Makela, 1996, Dept. of History, Cleveland State
Univ.) of selected woodblock prints--15 stunning Images!
a famous series depicting scenic views of the Fifty Three Stations of the Tokaido (Tokaido gojusantsugi). The Tokaido
"('Eastern Sea Route') was the main coastal
road linking the headquarters of the period's military leadership
in Edo (the modern city of Tokyo)
with the site of the Japanese imperial court in Kyoto,
several hundred kilometers to the south and west. They were
completed originally during the middle of the nineteenth century
by the Japanese print artist Hiroshige Ando
(1797 - 1858).
KANAGAWA, Print Four in the Reisho Series: Two-story teahouses provide respite to Tokaido travelers, offering both refreshment and commanding views of Edo Bay.
NUMAZU, Print Thirteen in the Hoeido Series: Traveling musicians carrying samisen.
FUJISAWA, Print Seven in the Hoeido Series: Pilgrims arrive to visit Yugyoji (a renowned Buddhist temple founded in 1325, located on the hillside overlooking the village) or the Enoshima Benten Jinja (a Shinto shrine dedicated to the Goddess of Music located beyond the torii ngateway in the foreground).
Prints by Kogyo (1869-1927)
and a brief essay "About the Artist and Noh
Drama..." (Shogun Gallery)
A Brief History of Japanese Prints (Shogun Gallery): "Japanese Woodblock Prints or Ukiyo·e (Pictures of the Floating World), came into being in the middle of the 17th Century, at the end of close to a century of feudal wars."
Piano - as Image Media, by Toshio Iwai (b. 1962, Aichi, Japan), who studied sculpture and mixed media at the Univ. of Tsukuba, Japan, graduating with a Masters degree in 1987 - "Modern Classics" work exhibited at MEDIA SCAPE, Guggenheim Museum, New York, summer 1996.
Pottery Center, E-Yakimono.com, "a learning center devoted to Japanese
pottery"--Yakimono means fired thing . . ."--offers a
collection of articles and information about current Japanese living treasures,
as well as reviews and articles about exhibitions, museums, galleries, pottery
festivals, pottery villages, and antique markets (Jennifer Miller, E-Mail
correspondence, March 2001).
http://www.e-yakimono.net [accessed Aug. 2001].
Traditional Performing Arts in Japan (classical theater and traditional music, from The Web Kanzaki, based on Japan: A Pocket Guide, Foreign Press Center: 1996)
Introduction to Noh Plays (Thomas Rimer), Technical Terms for Noh plays (Royall Tyler), including a diagram of the Noh stage; and Glossary of Japanese Noh Terms (Karen Brazell).
Background to Noh Theater
Nogami Nogaku Research Institute of Hosei University: "'Nogaku' is used to refer to the two arts of No [see below] and Kyogen [independent humorous pieces that are traditionally performed between two separate NOH plays as comic relief]. Both trace back at least six hundred years. They are also theaters that are active today. The Institute is committed to fostering research on both historical and contemporary topics related to Nogaku, and strives as well to support further growth in these arts."
Courtesy of the city of Kanazawa, learn about Traditional Arts & Crafts, featuring traditional Japanese theater arts. Don't miss the "refined world of Noh," with links to "What is it?" and beautiful images of Noh performances: "In the 14th century the SARUGAKU performers Kiyotsugu Kan'ami (1333- 1394) and his son Zeami Motokiyo (1363-1443) created a new type of theater,...imbued with a serious Buddhist tone."
Visit also the Noh Mask Home Page
Images of Kabuki Arts:
Kunijo Kabuki Ekotoba, An Illustrated Manuscript of Japanese Classical Play Kabuki- Kuni's Kabuki, (Kyoto Univ. Library), is "one of the most important and distinguished materials for the study of the Kabuki, a classical play in Japan, established at the opening of the Tokugawa period about 350 years ago." The illumination is an example of a Naraehon (Picture books edited in Nara) manuscript, because they were produced by a group of painters, Edokoro, at the Kasuga and other shrines in the city of Nara.
Kabuki actor / Edobe (The Japan
Ukiyo-e Museum, 1995, featuring more UKIYO-E
wood-block prints of everyday life of the past Japan, Edo period, 1603 - 1867: "The word "ukiyo-e" means "the picture of buoyant world" and incorporates in its meaning the common man's daily pleasures, such as Kabuki plays, Geisha houses, and so on."
Kumadori: Kabuki Faces: "In addition to brilliant costumes, many styles of makeup are used. One such called kumadori, or "making shadows," is an art form in itself. In kumadori, white foundation is applied to the entire face, and one of a set of established colorful patterns is painted on. The two most common colors used are red, which denotes virtues such as bravery, strength, and justice, and dark blue, which expresses negative traits like jealousy and fear. Black, terra-cotta, bronze, and gold are common as well." --Noh and Kabuki, from the Asia Society's Video Letter from Japan: Living Arts (1988, p. 34) See a modern interpretation in close-up!
Ichiriki Teahouse, an illustrated synopsis of the seventh act of Kanadehon Chushingura (The Revenge of the 47 Ronin, or masterless samurai, written in 1748), "the most popular play in kabuki and the bunraku puppet theater..."(Nicolas Gregoriades, Grade 11, from Kabuki for Everyone, English version - see also Traditional Japanese Theater Links).
The names of illustrious kabuki actors, like Danjuro Ichikawa, also become part of the theater tradition, taken on by their successors in later generations: "The first Danjuro Ichikawa was born in 1660 during the Edo period." Today, the name is carried on as well by a new form of female Kabuki: "Among Kabuki's family, there are a few distinguished families.
One of those families, the Ichikawas, has accepted our way, and three of our actors have been permitted to use of the Ichikawa family name. We will do our best to be true to its "Ichikawa" name from now on" ("Daughters of Kabuki").
Kabuki for Everyone in Taiwan: "The fact that it was created and developed during a period Japan was shut off from the rest of the world by the policies of the Tokugawa military government, which also restricted the freedom of theater in many ways, makes the conventions and stylizations difficult to understand for many non-Japanese."(See the Photo Library.)
Kabuki Print (Musashiya, Inc, Honolulu, Hawaii)
The Ultimate Home Page Index: Kabuki - "From this page, you can directly search every major search engine for kabuki with a single click! The entire world wide web is at your disposal!"
Kabuki History (from Kabuki for Everyone): Kabuki: A Brief History and The Genroku Period (Edo/Tokugawa era, late17th century) "was...the time when most of the conventions and stylizations of Kabuki, including play structure, character types, the art of the onnagata, took form.
Two good introductory essays to Bunraku:
Bunraku, a detailed, very readable essay on Japanese puppet theatre, including the history of its development (from FACTS ABOUT JAPAN, The International Society for Educational Information, Inc., Tokyo) - from the Introduction: "The Japanese puppet show, known as bunraku, in which each puppet is operated by three men, requires a superior degree of skill in
manipulation, and features elaborate forms of expression and superb artistry. In these respects, bunraku is a precious heritage of folk culture in which Japan can take justifiable pride."
A Brief Introduction to the History of Bunraku, evolving from a long tradition of ningyo-joruri, literally puppets and storytelling, can be dated from 1684, when Takemoto Gidayu set up his own theater in Osaka (by Matthew Johnson, B.A. Japanese, UCLA, currently residing in Japan, with a collection of Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, Otsu-e folk prints and pictures of Japanese dance worth a visit!--click the blue leaf.)
An Introduction to The
Grand Kabuki Theater (Duane T. Ebata, Japanese
American Cultural & Community Center, Los Angeles,
California). DEFINING THE WORD: KA = song; BU = dance; KI
"Originally, the word was a verb --kabuku-- which meant something like "to stand at an angle," "to be off balance" or "lean to
one side." This gave rise to its use as a term to refer to a person who was unusual, off beat and unconventional. Unconventional, particularly since the social trends of the time looked with disfavor upon those who were excessive and unorthodox. That included extravagance in dress and behavior. Therefore, kabuki also connoted the perception of being "excessively fashionable" and "faddish," even "avant-garde."
"a form of Japanese theater using live actors, began around
the same time as bunraku. It originated
in Kyoto with new kinds of dances performed by a
woman named Okuni in the early 1600s.
These became highly popular, and Okuni was imitated by other
actresses and actors. But the Japanese government, deciding that
the performances were immoral, decreed in 1629
that women could no longer appear on the stage. Women's
roles were taken over by men, and this practice
continues in modern Kabuki."
But see Nagoya Musume Kabuki ("Daughters of Kabuki"):"Our dramatic 'Kabuki' company was organized only by female members in 1983. Kabuki' is a traditional Japanese art originally performed only by males. The female roles performed by males could draw feminine gestures,tenderness, motherhood, and tender passion more effectively. Therefore, we tried to form a female group because we think that the male roles performed by females might emphasize male bravery, consideration, and toughness. We believe that we would discover other good qualities of 'Kabuki' in the opposite sense using the female 'New Kabuki' versus the traditional male 'Kabuki'."
Of related interest: For an interesting contemporary Western use of Kabuki, see "How is Kabuki? Superb" (review by John Coulbourn, Toronto Sun, 1996): "It's not neccessary that you be able to answer the question 'What is Kabuki?' in order enjoy the Factory Theatre production of Where Is Kabuki? that opened Wednesday night on the mainstage. The finer points of Japan's beautiful but ritualistic style of theatre are merely delightful detailing in this 1989 masterpiece by playwright Dan Druick. While purporting to set his tale in 19th century Japan, Druick instead chooses to focus on the timeless internecine battle between artistic expression and box office that periodically turns the nation of theatre into a wasteland. Specifically, the play is set backstage at the Kabuki-za, Tokyo's leading theatre...."
Internet Movie Database Tour:
Rhapsody in August (Hachigatsu no kyoshikyoku, Japan, 1991), dir. Akira Kurosawa, with Ishiro Honda (for some uncredited scenes). Akira Kurosawa (b. 1910, Omori, Tokyo, Japan -d. 1997) trained first as a painter (he storyboards his films as full-scale paintings), then entered the film industry in 1936 as an assistant director, making his directorial debut in 1943. After working in a wide range of genres, he made his breakthrough film Rashomon (In the Woods, Japan,1950) in 1950. It won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival (see also other awards), and first revealed the richness of Japanese cinema to the West. It was followed by Ikiru (To Live, Japan, 1952) and Shichinin no samurai (The Seven Samurai, Japan, 1954; remade in the USA as The Magnificent Seven, 1960). After lean periods in the 1960s and attempted suicide in the 1970s, Kurosawa reemerged, with the help of admirers Francis Coppola and George Lucas, to make the samurai epic Kagemusha ("The Shadow Warrior," Japan, 1980), followed by his second Shakespeare adaptation Ran (Japan/France, 1985),which won the 1986 Academy Award for Best Director. He continued to work into his eighties with the more personal films like Dreams (Yume, also trans.Akira Kurosawa's Dreams, Japan/USA, 1990) and Rhapsody in August (1991). Kurosawa's films have always been more popular in the West than in his native Japan, where critics have viewed his adaptations of Western genres and authors (William Shakespeare, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Maxim Gorky and Evan Hunter) with suspicion. But he's revered by American and European film-makers, who have frequently imitated and remade his films.
Akira Kurosawa Database (Nobuji Tamura, 1996, Temple Univ.), including Rhapsody in August
Japanese Cinema (Council on East Asian Libraries, Univ. of Oregon), including links to Kinema Club (an informal group of scholars studying Japanese cinema and other moving image media), and Univ. of Iowa's Japanese Film Studies Bibliography
Japanese Film Masters: director Masaki Kobayashi and composer Toru Takemitsu, who collaborated on 10 films (Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture, Columbia Univ.), a film series commemorating "these creative geniuses and their work together."
Univ. of Penn Library Film Studies
Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema's Films by Country
AsianLinks pages were first prepared in 1998
& are slowly being updated in Winter 2001 - please bear with me.
See also New Asian Links:
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URL of this webpage: http://www.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/hum210/asianlinks/japan.htm
Online HUM 210 Course Resources:
Asian Film Asian Links: India China Japan
Asian Timelines: India China Japan
Cora's Home Page | Site Map
| Cora's Classes
more Student Writing | COCC Links
If you're interested in other world
literatures and cultures, visit these course websites:
Hum 211 - Culture and Literature of Africa
Eng 109 - Western World Literatures (late 18th-late 20th centuries)