We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Japanese Counterculture

The Antiestablishment Art of Terayama Shuji

Steven C. Ridgely

Publication Year: 2011

Terayama Shuji (1935-1983) was an avant-garde Japanese poet, dramatist, film director, and photographer known for his highly provocative work. In this inventive and revealing work, Steven Ridgely examines Terayama's life and art to show that a conventional notion of him does not do full justice to the meaning and importance of his wide-ranging, often playful body of work.

Ridgely places Terayama at the center of Japanese and global counterculture and finds in his work a larger story about the history of postwar Japanese art and culture. He sees Terayama as reflecting the most significant events of his day: young poets seizing control of haiku and tanka in the 1950s, radio drama experimenting with form and content after the cultural shift to television around 1960, young assistant directors given free rein in the New Wave as cinema combated television, underground theatre in the politicized late 1960s, and experimental short film through the 1970s after both the studio system and art house cinema had collapsed.

Featuring close readings of Terayama's art, Ridgely demonstrates how across his oeuvre there are patterns that sidestep existing power structures, never offering direct opposition but nevertheless making the opposition plain. And, he claims, there is always in Terayama's work a broad call for seeking out or creating pockets of fiction-where we are made aware that things are not what they seem-and to use otherness in those spaces to take a clearer view of reality.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (43.7 KB)
p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (87.2 KB)
pp. 2-5


pdf iconDownload PDF (59.9 KB)
pp. 6-7

read more

Introduction. Global Counterculture, Visual Counterculture

pdf iconDownload PDF (212.1 KB)
pp. vii-xxvi

A Japanese example cannot prove counterculture to have been global. Yet if counterculture was a global phenomenon, then we stand to learn more about it by looking at the work of a Japanese figure like Terayama Shūji (1935–83). While slightly young for the beat generation, Terayama debuted in the mid-1950s, and he was similarly entranced by ...

read more

1. Poetic Kleptomania and Pseudo-Lyricism

pdf iconDownload PDF (323.0 KB)
pp. 1-34

Fixed-verse poetry may seem a strange place to find an avantgarde movement by young Japanese poets. Free verse is intuitively a better fit, or if there was going to be a move toward a rigid form to toy with the Sartrean paradox of freedom experienced as resistance to oppression, then we might expect to see a move toward haiku, the shortest fixed-verse form. ...

read more

2. Radio Drama in the Age of Television

pdf iconDownload PDF (319.7 KB)
pp. 35-67

The transistor radio, the stereo phonograph, and the television were all introduced to the Japanese public at about the same time at the end of the 1950s. Tokyo Tsūshin Kōgyō (later Sony) would release their TR-55 pocket-sized transistor radio to the Japanese market in 1955.1 ...

read more

3. Boxing—Stuttering—Graffiti

pdf iconDownload PDF (298.8 KB)
pp. 69-97

What generates the sensation of presence and immediacy in the sport of boxing? Is it the flirtation with death (and murder) that excites both boxer and boxing fan? If so, is the possibility of death in the ring required for that excitement? Does boxing need an occasional ...

read more

4. Deinstitutionalizing Theater and Film

pdf iconDownload PDF (447.6 KB)
pp. 99-137

The conspicuous amount of attention paid to the relationship between sex and violence in the late 1960s might best be understood as an attempt to expose the erotics of war as a first step toward deconstructing that relationship. Too much emphasis, however, has been placed on simply repeating the link between Eros and Thanatos. Social ...

read more

5. The Impossibility of History

pdf iconDownload PDF (469.7 KB)
pp. 139-173

Paired with Terayama’s work to eroticize the present were texts that abject the past. Perhaps he realized that the logical impossibility of history—of a return to a now absent past—was itself insufficient to cause a shift toward a geographical orientation. Logic is often overwhelmed by the greater pressures of desire. So if the present and the past compete for our affections, then ...

read more

Conclusion. “Japanese” Counterculture

pdf iconDownload PDF (115.4 KB)
pp. 175-181

I have forestalled directly addressing Japanese counterculture until this conclusion, partly to avoid the snare of conceiving a global, and explicitly antinationalist, movement through the category of the nation. Yet the category of “Japanese” counterculture still needs to be tackled because that was the frame within which Terayama’s work was often received (and appraised) once ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (89.6 KB)
pp. 183-185

I am grateful to the following mentors, informants, classmates, and colleagues for their generous guidance, shared memories, and advice. Kathryn Sparling, my undergraduate advisor at Carleton College, helped to start me down this path by supporting my proposal to translate Terayama’s 1960 debut play as part of a senior thesis project; ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (221.0 KB)
pp. 187-214


pdf iconDownload PDF (417.6 KB)
pp. 215-222

E-ISBN-13: 9780816675289
E-ISBN-10: 0816675287
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816667536

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2011