Daily Life and Diversions in Urban Japan, 16001868
Publication Year: 1997
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
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Nishiyama Matsunosuke was born in 1912, during the last weeks of the Meiji period (1868–1912). He spent his childhood in the countryside around Akò, home of those most Japanese of heroes, the legendary forty-seven “loyal retainers” of the saga Chûshingura. After attending school in the city of Himeji...
Introduction: The Study of Edo-Period Culture
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The writings collected here, written over a period of nearly two decades and appearing in various books and journals, lack a systematic unity. I would thus like to outline my views on how Edoperiod culture should best be studied. To do this adequately would require a discussion of Japanese cultural history in general...
Part I. Edo: The City and Its Culture
Chapter 1. Edo: The Warrior's City
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When Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542–1616) came to Edo in 1590, he inherited little more than the vestiges of a castle built long before by Òta Dòkan (1432–1486). With the implementation of Tokugawa political rule, this sleepy, historic area was destined to become the capital of all Japan...
Chapter 2. Edokko: The Townsperson
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As we have seen in Chapter 1, the center of Edo was the shogun’s castle. At least until the Genroku period (1688–1704) the city was primarily the capital of the warrior. It was a teeming metropolis, a million strong, with men outnumbering women by more than two to one. Edo bustled with warriors...
Chapter 3. Iki: The Aesthetic of Edo
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Iki seems to be a specifically Japanese form of aesthetic consciousness. Pinpointing where or how a person embodies the quality of iki may be difficult, but its presence is felt by every Japanese. The aesthetic of iki is, in this sense, the common property of the Japanese people...
Chapter 4. Edo Publishing and Ukiyo-e
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The great majority of woodcuts known as ukiyo-e were produced and marketed in the city of Edo. These prints were bought for the purchaser’s own enjoyment or to be taken back to the provinces as souvenirs for friends and family. Mass production of ukiyo-e first took place in Edo...
Chapter 5. Edo Temples and Shrines
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The history of Japanese religion is a vast subject that I shall not attempt to cover here. Instead, I should like to focus on the religious activities of the Edo populace. Many questions need to be answered: How were Edo-period temples and shrines established? What kind of religious beliefs were associated with these institutions?...
Part II. The Town and the Country
Chapter 6. Provincial Culture of the Kasei Period (1804-1830)
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Any discussion of provincial culture during the late Edo period must first address the question of whether the city of Edo was truly the center of Japanese culture. Japanese historians have usually agreed that from the middle of the eighteenth century the center of Japanese culture gradually moved eastward...
Chapter 7. Itinerants, Actors, Pilgrims
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During the Edo period over one hundred types of traditional performing artists were active in Japan. Despite their great variety, however, such individuals never constituted more than a small segment of the population. Itinerant performers often settled down in ghettos or flophouses...
Chapter 8. Edo-Period Cuisine
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In a memo in the possession of the Ikarugadera, a temple near Himeji, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536–1598) outlines troop mobilizations in the advance on Himeji, part of a campaign that climaxed in the Battle of Takamatsu (1582). Hideyoshi, who personally led the Himeji attack, was still merely a general in Oda Nobunaga’s forces...
Part III. Theater and Music: From the Bakufu to the Beggar
Chapter 10. Social Strata and Music
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Analyzing the relation of social strata to Edo-period music is not easy. Many musical forms of this age were the shared cultural property of village communities and constituted a music of the social base with no specific carrier. Popular songs, for example, were sung by a broad public that crossed class lines...
Chapter 11. The Aesthetics of Kabuki
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The aesthetics of the kabuki theater comprises a variety of elements: hairstyles, makeup, costumes, settings, props, music, and much else. All these components deserve detailed study. In the following discussion, however, I shall limit myself to only four prominent aspects of the Edo kabuki: the aesthetic of the “street knight”...
Chapter 12. Popular Performing Arts: From Edo to Meiji
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After the end of the Edo period, many popular performing arts underwent rapid modernization; others, however, retained the styles and forms they had assumed during the preceding age. In this short study I shall attempt to analyze the uneven development of Japanese...
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I am very happy that a selection of my work on Edo-period culture is now available to an English-speaking readership. The studies included in this volume are for the most part introductory in nature, although some chapters—for example, those on Edo-period nò or cuisine...
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Sources of Chapters
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Publication Year: 1997