Early Modern Japanese Literature

Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600-1900

Edited with Introductions and Commentary by Haruo Shirane
James Brandon
Michael Brownstein
Patrick Caddeau
Caryl Ann Callahan
Steven Carter
Anthony Chambers
Cheryl Crowley
Chris Drake
Peter Flueckiger
Charles Fox
C. Andrew Gerstle
Thomas Harper
Robert Huey
Donald Keene
Richard Lane
Lawrence Marceau
Andrew Markus
Herschel Miller
Maryellen Toman Mori
Jamie Newhard
Mark Oshima
Edward Putzar
Peipei Qiu
Satoru Saito
Tomoko Sakomura
G. W. Sargent
Thomas Satchell
Paul Schalow
Haruo Shirane
Jack Stoneman
Makoto Ueda
Burton Watson
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 1392
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/shir10990
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    Early Modern Japanese Literature
    Book Description:

    This is the first anthology ever devoted to early modern Japanese literature, spanning the period from 1600 to 1900, known variously as the Edo or the Tokugawa, one of the most creative epochs of Japanese culture. This anthology, which will be of vital interest to anyone involved in this era, includes not only fiction, poetry, and drama, but also essays, treatises, literary criticism, comic poetry, adaptations from Chinese, folk stories and other non-canonical works. Many of these texts have never been translated into English before, and several classics have been newly translated for this collection.

    Early Modern Japanese Literature introduces English readers to an unprecedented range of prose fiction genres, including dangibon (satiric sermons), kibyôshi (satiric and didactic picture books), sharebon (books of wit and fashion), yomihon (reading books), kokkeibon (books of humor), gôkan (bound books), and ninjôbon (books of romance and sentiment). The anthology also offers a rich array of poetry -- waka, haiku, senryû, kyôka, kyôshi -- and eleven plays, which range from contemporary domestic drama to historical plays and from early puppet theater to nineteenth century kabuki. Since much of early modern Japanese literature is highly allusive and often elliptical, this anthology features introductions and commentary that provide the critical context for appreciating this diverse and fascinating body of texts.

    One of the major characteristics of early modern Japanese literature is that almost all of the popular fiction was amply illustrated by wood-block prints, creating an extensive text-image phenomenon. In some genres such as kibyôshi and gôkan the text in fact appeared inside the woodblock image. Woodblock prints of actors were also an important aspect of the culture of kabuki drama. A major feature of this anthology is the inclusion of over 200 woodblock prints that accompanied the original texts and drama.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50743-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xvi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  4. HISTORICAL PERIODS, MEASUREMENTS, AND OTHER MATTERS
    (pp. xxi-xxv)
  5. Chapter 1 EARLY MODERN JAPAN
    (pp. 1-20)

    One of the most dramatic transformations in Japanese history was the transition from the medieval period (thirteenth to sixteenth century) to the early modern era (1600–1867), when literary and cultural paradigms gave birth to a whole new body of vernacular literature. During the seventeenth century, urban commoners (chōnin) emerged as an economically and culturally powerful class; mass education spread, especially through the domain (han) schools for samurai and the private schools (terakoya) for commoners; and printing was introduced—all of which led to the widespread production and consumption of popular literature, which became a commodity for huge markets. As...

  6. Chapter 2 KANA BOOKLETS AND THE EMERGENCE OF A PRINT CULTURE
    (pp. 21-41)

    The culture and literature of the early Tokugawa period, from 1600 to 1680, belongs as much in the medieval as in the early modern period. Politically during this time, the country moved from the military hegemony of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi to the founding of the Tokugawa bakufu in Edo, from war to peace. Commercially, this period brought the rapid development of communication, transportation, and economic exchange on a national scale; the growth of three major cities (Kyoto, Osaka, and Edo); and the emergence in these cities of the “bad places” (akusho), the pleasure quarters (yūkaku), and the theater...

  7. Chapter 3 IHARA SAIKAKU AND THE BOOKS OF THE FLOATING WORLD
    (pp. 42-169)

    The term ukiyo-zōshi (books of the floating world) refers to a vernacular fictional genre that originated in the Kyoto-Osaka area and spanned a hundred-year period from the publication in 1682 of Ihara Saikaku’s Life of a Sensuous Man (Kōshoku ichidai otoko) to the late eighteenth century. Although originally synonymous with kōshokubon (books on love or sexual pleasures), ukiyo-zōshi covered a much wider range of subjects, and in accordance with the restrictions imposed by the Kyōhō Reforms (1716–1736), this term replaced kōshokubon. The genre now includes both long and short works as well as essays. Likewise, in modern literary histories,...

  8. Chapter 4 EARLY HAIKAI POETRY AND POETICS
    (pp. 170-177)

    Haikai is both a specific poetic genre and a particular mode of discourse, an attitude toward language, literature, and tradition. It is an approach that is most prominently displayed in linked verse, the seventeen-syllable hokku (later called haiku), haibun (haikai prose), and haiga (haikai painting) but that also pervaded much of early modern Japanese culture and literature. Haikai, which originated in the medieval period and peaked in the early modern period, grew out of the interaction between the vernacular and the classical language, between the new popular, largely urban, commoner-and samurai-based culture and the residual classical tradition, with its refined...

  9. Chapter 5 THE POETRY AND PROSE OF MATSUO BASHŌ
    (pp. 178-232)

    Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694) was born in the castle town of Ueno, in Iga Province (Mie), approximately thirty miles southeast of Kyoto. Although Bashō’s grandfather and great-grandfather had belonged to the samurai class, for reasons that are unclear, they were disenfranchised. By Bashō’s generation, the family had fallen so low that they had become farmers with only tenuous ties to the samurai class. Bashō at first served as a domestic employee of the Tōdō house, presumably as a companion to Toshitada (better known by his haikai name, Sengin), the son of the Tōdō lord. During this time, Bashō adopted the...

  10. Chapter 6 CHIKAMATSU MONZAEMON AND THE PUPPET THEATER
    (pp. 233-351)

    The art of jōruri (chanting), which lies at the heart of the puppet theater (bunraku), can be traced back to the late fifteenth century when blind minstrels chanted the story of Yoshitsune (Ushimakamaru) and his love affair with Lady Jōruri (Jōruri hime), whom he met while traveling in northern Japan. (Because the story was divided into twelve sections, it was also called the Twelve-Section Book, or Jūnidan zōshi.) Jōruri, the chanting of the story, was originally accompanied by a biwa (lute), probably similar to the Heike style. During the sixteenth century, however, the biwa was replaced by a shamisen (a...

  11. Chapter 7 CONFUCIAN STUDIES AND LITERARY PERSPECTIVES
    (pp. 352-370)

    In the early modern period, Confucianism, which had entered Japan together with Chinese culture and writing in the ancient period, emerged as the dominant mode of thought. Specifically, it was the Zhu Xi (1138–1200) school of Confucianism that was welcomed and supported by the samurai rulers, who used it to provide ideological support to the bakufu-domain system. Confucianism is a practical moral philosophy concerned with society and government and was absorbed in Japan primarily through the study of the Confucian classics, particularly the Four Books: Confucius’s Analects (Lunyu, J. Rongo), Mencius (Mengzi, J. Mōshi), The Doctrine of the Mean...

  12. Chapter 8 CONFUCIANISM IN ACTION: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A BAKUFU OFFICIAL
    (pp. 371-381)

    The rapid development of both production and commerce in the late seventeenth century commodified society as a whole, in the large cities as well as the farming villages. The result was that farmers, who were supposed to be selfsupporting, and samurai, who were dependent on the tribute collected from the farmers, became financially pressed, which in turn jeopardized the bakufudomain system as a whole. Although the samurai’s expenditures rose with the increase of commerce and the exchange of goods, the amount that they could squeeze from the farmers was limited. Accordingly, the bakufu and the domains (han) sought new forms...

  13. Chapter 9 CHINESE POETRY AND THE LITERATUS IDEAL
    (pp. 382-388)

    During the Kyōhō era (1716–1736), such notable kanshi (Chinese-style) poets as Hattori Nankaku (1683–1759) and Gion Nankai (1677–1751) flourished. The Tokugawa bakufu encouraged learning and scholarship, and early scholars of Chinese studies like Hayashi Razan believed in learning as a means of governing. The reality, however, was that most scholars, even the most talented, were not given an opportunity to govern. Instead, they usually turned their attention to such areas of scholarship as historical investigation and phonology, which were not embraced by orthodox Confucian studies, or entered artistic fields that generally brought little income or worldly gain—...

  14. Chapter 10 THE GOLDEN AGE OF PUPPET THEATER
    (pp. 389-448)

    The jōruri puppet theater reached a creative peak around 1715, beginning with the performance of Chikamatsu Monzaemon’s Battles of Coxinga (Kokusenya kassen), through the rivalry of the Takemoto and Toyotake theaters, to the death of the playwright Namiki Sōsuke in 1751. It was a period when the puppet theater outshone the kabuki theater, particularly in the city of Osaka. In 1714, the popular kabuki actor Ikushima Shingorō, of the Yamamura Theater in Edo, was discovered having an affair with Ejima (1681–1741), a female attendant of the mother of the seventh shōgun, Tokugawa Ietsugu (r. 1713–1716). Ejima was exiled...

  15. Chapter 11 DANGIBON AND THE BIRTH OF EDO POPULAR LITERATURE
    (pp. 449-519)

    Popular literature and culture flourished between two sets of reforms by the Tokugawa shōgunate, the Kyōhō Reforms and the Kansei Reforms. The Kyōhō Reforms (1716–1736) were carried out by the eighth shōgun, Tokugawa Yoshimune (r. 1716–1745), and the Kansei Reforms (1789–1801) were executed by Matsudaira Sadanobu, who became senior councillor in 1787. The Kyōhō Reforms were intended to resolve the financial crisis facing the shōgunate and the samurai caused by the increasing disparity between the samurai’s elite sociopolitical status and economic reality. The initial stage of the reforms (1716–1722) concentrated on curbing expenditures and restoring the...

  16. Chapter 12 COMIC AND SATIRIC POETRY
    (pp. 520-537)

    In the 1750s, the seventeen-syllable senryū, or comic haiku, became popular. The senryū has the same 5–7–5 syllabic structure as haiku, but unlike haiku, which focuses primarily on the natural world, the senryū uses humor, satire, and wit to comment on contemporary society and the human condition. Historically, senryū derived from a particular type of linked verse, maeku-zuke (verse capping), which can be traced back to linked verse in the medieval period. In verse capping, the judge (tenja) presents an initial or “earlier verse” (maeku) to which the participants respond with an “added verse” (tsukeku), which is then...

  17. Chapter 13 LITERATI MEDITATIONS
    (pp. 538-562)

    The bunjin ideal was the Chinese-inspired scholar-artist literatus ideal which first emerged in Japan in the early eighteenth century. Because the bakufu system allowed for only a limited or restricted expression of talent, the bunjin sought liberation in the arts, particularly Chinese poetry, painting, and calligraphy. For well-educated clan officials like Gion Nankai (1677–1751) and Yanagisawa Kien (1706–1758), who resigned from their posts because they were unwilling to conform, the literati mode was an alternative lifestyle. But for commoners like Yosa Buson (1716–1783) and Ike Taiga (1723–1776), who came from more humble backgrounds, the literati mode...

  18. Chapter 14 EARLY YOMIHON: HISTORY, ROMANCE, AND THE SUPERNATURAL
    (pp. 563-598)

    With the advent of the Kyōhō era (1716–1736), the popularity of the ukiyo-zōshi (books of the floating world), a fictional genre developed by Ihara Saikaku, gradually began to decline, partly because of the increasing difficulties of urban commoner life and partly because of the scarcity of good writers. In addition, the Hachimonjiya, the central publishing house for ukiyo-zōshi, was publishing more and more historical fiction that borrowed heavily from drama and lacked the freshness of Saikaku’s work. By the middle of the eighteenth century, the ukiyo-zōshi had been displaced by a new prose fiction genre, the yomihon (literally, reading...

  19. Chapter 15 EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY WAKA AND NATIVIST STUDY
    (pp. 599-630)

    By the mid-eighteenth century, the center of poetic activity for the thirty-onesyllable waka had shifted from the dōjō, or court aristocrats, who had monopolized waka in the medieval period, to the jige, or commoner poets, who revolutionized the genre. The court poets had belonged to various aristocratic poetic houses such as the Nijō, Reizei, Kyōgoku, and Asukai, which formed exclusive societies in which poetry was read, composed, and taught. These poets based their poetry on that of the Kokinshū, the Shinkokinshū, and other imperial waka anthologies of the Heian and early medieval periods, with guidelines for the interpretation and composition...

  20. Chapter 16 SHAREBON: BOOKS OF WIT AND FASHION
    (pp. 631-671)

    The sharebon, which flourished in the late eighteenth century at the same time as senryū, kyōka, kyōshi, and kibyōshi, was a short-story form that satirized the life of the sophisticate in the licensed quarters, particularly Yoshiwara in Edo. The sharebon was preceded by the ukiyo-zōshi, which became popular in the late seventeenth century, and was followed by the ninjōbon, which emerged in the early nineteenth century. The sharebon differed from the ukiyo-zōshi in having been influenced by enshi, Chinese courtesan literature. Very early sharebon such as Words on the Wine Cup of the Pleasure Quarters (Ryōha shigen, 1728), which was...

  21. Chapter 17 KIBYŌSHI: SATIRIC AND DIDACTIC PICTURE BOOKS
    (pp. 672-729)

    Kibyōshi (literally, yellow booklets), picture books in which the image and text are intended to be enjoyed together, flourished in the thirty-one years between 1775 and 1806. The kibyōshi shared the humor and wit of kyōka, senryū, kyōshi, and sharebon, which also prospered at this time. Although initially its subject matter was largely limited to the pleasure quarter, by the time the kibyōshi reached its creative peak in the 1780s, virtually no segment of society was spared its satiric treatment.

    The kibyōshi fell under the rubric of kusa-zōshi (literally, grass books), “middle-size” books with ten pages in a volume, with...

  22. Chapter 18 KOKKEIBON: COMIC FICTION FOR COMMONERS
    (pp. 730-759)

    Kokkeibon (literally, humor books) were a new type of comic fiction that emerged in Edo during the Hōreki era (1751–1764) and became a major fictional genre. Comic fiction in the wider sense had existed from the beginning of the seventeenth century, in kana-zōshi such as Fake Tales (Nise monogatari) and Today’s Tales of Yesterday (Kinō wa kyō no monogatari), which today are categorized as comic stories (shōwa). Although humorous fiction also appeared in the form of sharebon and kibyōshi in the late eighteenth century, kokkeibon was a distinct genre that arose in the mid-eighteenth century and continued into the...

  23. Chapter 19 NINJŌBON: SENTIMENTAL FICTION
    (pp. 760-799)

    Ninjōbon (literally, books of pathos or emotion) first appeared in the Bunsei era (1818–1830), reached their peak in the Tenpō era (1830–1844), but lasted into the Meiji period (1868–1911). By the 1820s, readers had grown tired of the satire, cynicism, and mannerisms of the sharebon (books of wit and fashion), which were gradually supplanted by popular novels called sewa-yomihon (literally, books about contemporary life), and shinnai ballads, specializing in sad tales and suicides, both which were highly sentimental in content. The sewa-yomihon were appropriately also termed nakibon (books to cry by), a genre that Tamenaga Shunsui (1790...

  24. Chapter 20 GŌKAN: EXTENDED PICTURE BOOKS
    (pp. 800-842)

    Gōkan (literally, bound books), bound picture books, was the last of the kusazōshi, or picture books, to appear. Gōkan were the direct successor of the kibyōshi, the satiric picture books that were in vogue from 1775 to 1805. After the Kansei Reforms, the kibyōshi shifted to vendetta narratives, which eventually could not be contained in the short kibyōshi format. Consequently, from around 1803/1804, writers such as Jippensha Ikku and Kyokutei Bakin began to bind together several kibyōshi booklets to form what came to be called gōkan. An important characteristic of the gōkan was the inclusion of the calligraphic text (which...

  25. Chapter 21 GHOSTS AND NINETEENTH-CENTURY KABUKI
    (pp. 843-884)

    Kabuki’s focus on evil was one of its characteristics in the nineteenth century, especially in the work of Tsuruya Nanboku, who—along with Chikamatsu, Namiki Sōsuke (Senryū) , and Mokuami—was one of the leading kabuki-jōruri playwrights of the early modern period. In contrast to earlier plays in which the evil male character is the opposite of the good male character and thus basically a foil for the hero, in Nanboku’s plays the evil male character is the protagonist and is simultaneously attractive and repulsive, erotic and loathsome. During this period as well, two new evil characters were created in...

  26. Chapter 22 LATE YOMIHON: HISTORY AND THE SUPERNATURAL REVISITED
    (pp. 885-909)

    The early yomihon—those of the late eighteenth century—generally were historical narratives describing the supernatural, the fantastic, and the miraculous. Their elegant style contained many allusions to Chinese and Japanese classical texts. The yomihon of the early nineteenth century, however, were quite different. As the center of literary activity gradually moved to Edo in the Anei-Tenmei era (1772–1789), the yomihon, which had emerged in the Kyoto-Osaka area, increasingly shifted into the hands of professional Edo writers and publishers, reaching its highest level in the Bunka-Bunsei era (1804–1830) with the works of Santō Kyōden (1761–1816) and Kyokutei...

  27. Chapter 23 NATIVIZING POETRY AND PROSE IN CHINESE
    (pp. 910-924)

    From the mid-eighteenth century, kanshi (poetry written only in Chinese characters) became the most respected literary form of poetry among intellectuals, and the number of kanshi poets and the quantity of kanshi vastly increased. These new kanshi poets attacked the style of Ogyū Sorai’s Edo-based school, or the Ancient Rhetoric (kobunji) school, which had dominated the kanshi world and had attempted to imitate the poetry of the high Tang. In the view of these new poets, Sorai’s school, which had insisted on an “elegant and grand” (kōka yūkon) style, using only diction from high-Tang poetry, tended to depart from reality...

  28. Chapter 24 THE MISCELLANY
    (pp. 925-931)

    The zuihitsu (literally, following the brush), or miscellany, is usually traced back to Sei Shōnagon’s Pillowbook (Makura no sōshi, ca. 1000) and is regarded as reaching a peak with Yoshida Kenkō’s Essays in Idleness (Tsurezuregusa, ca. 1310–1331). The zuihitsu varied in form but usually consisted of a collection of short sections, often randomly ordered, written in relatively short sentences, although it could also be an extended and unified essay. The contents of the individual sections ranged from diarylike entries to meditative or philosophical reflections, instructions on living, observations of society, lists of interesting things, transmissions of folk stories (setsuwa),...

  29. Chapter 25 EARLY-NINETEENTH-CENTURY HAIKU
    (pp. 932-946)

    With the spread of education in the eighteenth century, the haikai “population” gradually expanded to the point that even maids and grooms were said to be composing haiku for entertainment. Not surprisingly, the quality of the poetry suffered, and so in the mid-eighteenth century, Buson and his circle attempted in various ways to reelevate it, such as staging a Bashō revival. By the early nineteenth century, Buson and his successors had died, but haiku continued to be popular. The most talented haiku poet of this time was Kobayashi Issa, whose main interest was in everyday, contemporary life. This disregard for...

  30. Chapter 26 WAKA IN THE LATE EDO PERIOD
    (pp. 947-960)

    Although the quality of prose fiction generally deteriorated toward the end of the Edo period, it was a rich and interesting period for waka, owing to the work of such talented provincial poets as Kagawa Kageki (1768–1843) from Tottori, Ryōkan (1758–1831) from Echigo, Tachibana Akemi (1828–1868) from Fukui, and Ōkuma Kotomichi (1798–1869) from Chikuzen. Both Ryōkan and Akemi were deeply influenced by the Man’yōshū, the eighth-century anthology of poetry, but wrote about everyday, commoner life. Kotomichi also wrote about everyday life and is noted for his poetic treatises, which stress individuality and freedom in vocabulary.

    Ozawa...

  31. Chapter 27 RAKUGO
    (pp. 961-968)

    Rakugo is the modern word for the art of oral storytelling, a performance genre that can be traced back to the late medieval period when otogishū, or storytellers, were retained by samurai generals for entertainment and sometimes advice. The term rakugo (literally, words with a twist) was first used around 1887, in the Meiji period (1868–1912), and the art continues to be popular today. In the seventeenth century, the humorous stories of the more aristocratic storytellers in Kyoto were collected in Today’s Tales of Yesterday (Kinō wa kyō no monogatari, ca. 1615), which now is classified as a kana-zōshi....

  32. ENGLISH-LANGUAGE BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 969-982)
  33. INDEX
    (pp. 983-1018)
  34. Back Matter
    (pp. 1019-1027)