Samurai, Shogun, Zen Monks, and Puppeteers: Life in Medieval and Tokugawa Japan Part Three Hiroshige- 100 Views of Famous Places in Edo- The street Suruga-cho and Mount Fuji
TheFloating World Tearoom from 36 Views of Mt. Fuji by Hokusai, 1823 • Chonin, like any city-dwellers, wanted to go out and enjoy art, entertainment, and nightlife. • New entertainment districts grew in the city, filled with performers and artists. These became known as the “Floating World.” • Merchants loved to hang out with the actors, sumo wrestlers, geisha, and other entertainers. • Soon artists were selling color prints showing scenes of the Floating World. • The Floating World gave us the geisha, two new kinds of theatre, and a new style of art.
Geisha • Japanese wives were not allowed to socialize or attend parties in public with their husbands. • Geisha—”hostesses”—arose to provide female companionship to wealthy men. • Geisha were entertainers. They had to be accomplished dancers and musicians, have impeccable manners, be skilled at witty conversation, and constantly attentive to the needs of men. • Geisha lived together in special houses and would entertain there or at teahouses in the district. • Geisha could not marry, but would often take a wealthy man as a patron, working exclusively for him in return for financial support.
Kabuki • Kabuki is one of the two types of theatre created during the early Tokugawa period. • The earliest Kabuki performers were women and they danced the stories. • The plays quickly became very popular, because the stories were racy and the dancers were beautiful. • However, some dancers were also prostitutes, so the Shogun decreed in 1829 that only men could act in Kabuki. • The plays remained popular. Kabuki is filled with spectacle: dramatic singing and dancing, stage fights, special effects, elaborate sets and costumes, revolving stages, and outlandish makeup (the rock band Kiss wears Kabuki makeup). • Kabuki stories usually involve ghosts and violent action, with heightened emotions—like Italian opera. Kabuki Actor Yakusha-e by Kunichika Toyohara
Bunraku • The second type of theatre to emerge in this period was Bunraku. • Bunraku is serious puppet theatre. • The puppets are 3-4 feet tall and very lifelike. It takes three puppeteers to control each puppet: one handling the head and right arm, another the left arm, and the third moving the legs and feet. • The puppeteers do not speak the lines. There is a chanter who tells the story, acting the different voices. • The chanter is accompanied by a musician playing the shamisen, an instrument like a cross between banjo and guitar. • The greatest playwright in Japanese literature, Chikamatsu, wrote nearly all of his plays for Bunraku. The stories are usually about historical events or the daily lives and loves of city people. Puppeteer Kanjuro Kiritake the 3rd photo by Tony McNicol, tonymcnicol.com
WoodblockPrints • The increasing city population also demanded books to read. Printing became big business. Artists were hired to illustrate many of these books. • Around 1670, Hishikawa Moronobu developed a new technique using woodblocks to print illustrations in color. Before this, the outline had been printed and colors were painted by hand. • This made art affordable to all. • Artists began to produce series of images to sell as a set or singly. • Two greatest masters of this style: • Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) • Utagawa Hiroshige (1797 –1858) • Big influence on French Impressionists and modern European art. Amida Waterfall on the Kiso Road from Journey to the Waterfalls in All the Provinces, by Hokusai, circa 1832
Sources • Books • Basho On Love and Barley—Haiku of Basho Penguin Classics: New York 1985 • Delay, Nelly Art and Culture of Japan Abrams: New York 1999 • Hamill, Sam and Seaton, JP, eds. The Poetry of Zen Shambhala: Berkeley, CA 2007 • Murphy, Rhoads East Asia 4th Edition Longman 2006 • Time-Life Books What Life Was Like Among Samurai and Shoguns Time-Life Books: Alexandria, VA 1999 • Web • Floating World of the Ukiyo-e: Shadow, Dreams, and Substance http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/ukiyo-e/realia.html • Drama in Medieval and 19th Century Japanhttp://www.sfusd.k12.ca.us/schwww/sch618/japan/DanceDrama/Japanese_Drama_Noh.html • An Introduction to Bunrakuhttp://www2.ntj.jac.go.jp/unesco/bunraku/en/ • Video • The Lover’s Exile: Bunraku Play by Chikamatsuhttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0973000945/ref=cm_cr_asin_lnk Utagawa Hiroshige.”Yotsuya: the New Station at Naito” from the series A Hundred Views of Famous Places in Edo (Meisho Edo hyakkei: Yotsuya, Naitô Shinjuku), 1857