Ukiyo-e is a genre of Japanese art which flourished from the 17th through 19th centuries. Its artists produced woodblock paintings of such subjects as female beauties; the term ukiyo-e translates as "picture of the floating world". Edo became the seat of government for the military dictatorship in the early 17th century; the merchant class at the bottom of the social order benefited most from the city's rapid economic growth. Many indulged in the entertainments of kabuki theatre and geisha of the pleasure districts; the term ukiyo came to describe this hedonistic lifestyle. Printed or painted ukiyo-e images of this environment emerged in the late 17th century and were popular with the merchant class, who had become wealthy enough to afford to decorate their homes with them; the earliest success was in the 1670s with Moronobu's paintings and monochromatic prints of beautiful women. Colour in prints came gradually—at first added by hand for special commissions. By the 1740s, artists such as Masanobu used multiple woodblocks to print areas of colour.
From the 1760s the success of Harunobu's "brocade prints" led to full-colour production becoming standard, each print made with numerous blocks. Specialists have prized the portraits of beauties and actors by masters such as Kiyonaga and Sharaku that came in the late 18th century. In the 19th century followed a pair of masters best remembered for their landscapes: the bold formalist Hokusai, whose Great Wave off Kanagawa is one of the best-known works of Japanese art. Following the deaths of these two masters, against the technological and social modernization that followed the Meiji Restoration of 1868, ukiyo-e production went into steep decline; some ukiyo-e artists specialized in making paintings. Artists carved their own woodblocks for printing; as printing was done by hand, printers were able to achieve effects impractical with machines, such as the blending or gradation of colours on the printing block. Ukiyo-e was central to forming the West's perception of Japanese art in the late 19th century–especially the landscapes of Hokusai and Hiroshige.
From the 1870s Japonism became a prominent trend and had a strong influence on the early Impressionists such as Degas and Monet, as well as Post-Impressionists such as van Gogh and Art Nouveau artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec. The 20th century saw a revival in Japanese printmaking: the shin-hanga genre capitalized on Western interest in prints of traditional Japanese scenes, the sōsaku-hanga movement promoted individualist works designed and printed by a single artist. Prints since the late 20th century have continued in an individualist vein made with techniques imported from the West. Japanese art since the Heian period had followed two principal paths: the nativist Yamato-e tradition, focusing on Japanese themes, best known by the works of the Tosa school; the Kanō school of painting incorporated features of both. Since antiquity, Japanese art had found patrons in the aristocracy, military governments, religious authorities; until the 16th century, the lives of the common people had not been a main subject of painting, when they were included, the works were luxury items made for the ruling samurai and rich merchant classes.
Works appeared by and for townspeople, including inexpensive monochromatic paintings of female beauties and scenes of the theatre and pleasure districts. The hand-produced nature of these shikomi-e limited the scale of their production, a limit, soon overcome by genres that turned to mass-produced woodblock printing. During a prolonged period of civil war in the 16th century, a class of politically powerful merchants had developed; these machishū had power over local communities. In the early 17th century Tokugawa Ieyasu unified the country and was appointed shōgun with supreme power over Japan, he consolidated his government in the village of Edo, required the territorial lords to assemble there in alternate years with their entourages. The demands of the growing capital drew many male labourers from the country, so that males came to make up nearly seventy percent of the population; the village grew during the Edo period from a population of 1800 to over a million in the 19th century. The centralized shogunate put an end to the power of the machishū and divided the population into four social classes, with the ruling samurai class at the top and the merchant class at the bottom.
While deprived of their political influence, those of the merchant class most benefited from the expanding economy of the Edo period, their improved lot allowed for leisure that many sought in the pleasure districts—in particular Yoshiwara in Edo—and collecting artworks to decorate their homes, which in earlier times had been well beyond their financial means. The experience of the pleasure quarters was open to those of sufficient wealth, manners, a
National Diet Library
The National Diet Library is the national library of Japan and among the largest libraries in the world. It was established in 1948 for the purpose of assisting members of the National Diet of Japan in researching matters of public policy; the library is similar in scope to the United States Library of Congress. The National Diet Library consists of two main facilities in Tōkyō and Kyōtō, several other branch libraries throughout Japan; the National Diet Library is the successor of three separate libraries: the library of the House of Peers, the library of the House of Representatives, both of which were established at the creation of Japan's Imperial Diet in 1890. The Diet's power in prewar Japan was limited, its need for information was "correspondingly small"; the original Diet libraries "never developed either the collections or the services which might have made them vital adjuncts of genuinely responsible legislative activity". Until Japan's defeat, the executive had controlled all political documents, depriving the people and the Diet of access to vital information.
The U. S. occupation forces under General Douglas MacArthur deemed reform of the Diet library system to be an important part of the democratization of Japan after its defeat in World War II. In 1946, each house of the Diet formed its own National Diet Library Standing Committee. Hani Gorō, a Marxist historian, imprisoned during the war for thought crimes and had been elected to the House of Councillors after the war, spearheaded the reform efforts. Hani envisioned the new body as "both a'citadel of popular sovereignty'", the means of realizing a "peaceful revolution"; the Occupation officers responsible for overseeing library reforms reported that, although the Occupation was a catalyst for change, local initiative pre-existed the Occupation, the successful reforms were due to dedicated Japanese like Hani. The National Diet Library opened in June 1948 in the present-day State Guest-House with an initial collection of 100,000 volumes; the first Librarian of the Diet Library was the politician Tokujirō Kanamori.
The philosopher Masakazu Nakai served as the first Vice Librarian. In 1949, the NDL became the only national library in Japan. At this time the collection gained an additional million volumes housed in the former National Library in Ueno. In 1961, the NDL opened at its present location in Nagatachō, adjacent to the National Diet. In 1986, the NDL's Annex was completed to accommodate a combined total of 12 million books and periodicals; the Kansai-kan, which opened in October 2002 in the Kansai Science City, has a collection of 6 million items. In May 2002, the NDL opened a new branch, the International Library of Children's Literature, in the former building of the Imperial Library in Ueno; this branch contains some 400,000 items of children's literature from around the world. Though the NDL's original mandate was to be a research library for the National Diet, the general public is the largest consumer of the library's services. In the fiscal year ending March 2004, for example, the library reported more than 250,000 reference inquiries.
As Japan's national library, the NDL collects copies of all publications published in Japan. Moreover, because the NDL serves as a research library for Diet members, their staffs, the general public, it maintains an extensive collection of materials published in foreign languages on a wide range of topics; the NDL has eight major specialized collections: Modern Political and Constitutional History. The Modern Political and Constitutional History Collection comprises some 300,000 items related to Japan's political and legal modernization in the 19th century, including the original document archives of important Japanese statesmen from the latter half of the 19th century and the early 20th century like Itō Hirobumi, Iwakura Tomomi, Sanjō Sanetomi, Mutsu Munemitsu, Terauchi Masatake, other influential figures from the Meiji and Taishō periods; the NDL has an extensive microform collection of some 30 million pages of documents relating to the Occupation of Japan after World War II. This collection include the documents prepared by General Headquarters and the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, the Far Eastern Commission, the United States Strategic Bombing Survey Team.
The Laws and Preliminary Records Collection consists of some 170,000 Japanese and 200,000 foreign-language documents concerning proceedings of the National Diet and the legislatures of some 70 foreign countries, the official gazettes, judicial opinions, international treaties pertaining to some 150 foreign countries. The NDL maintains a collection of some 530,000 books and booklets and 2 million microform titles relating to the sciences; these materials include, among other things, foreign doctoral dissertations in the sciences, the proceedings and reports of academic societies, catalogues of technical standards, etc. The NDL has a collection of 440,000 maps of Japan and other countries, including the topographica
Ihara Saikaku was a Japanese poet and creator of the "floating world" genre of Japanese prose. Born as Hirayama Tōgo, the son of a wealthy merchant in Osaka, he first studied haikai poetry under Matsunaga Teitoku and studied under Nishiyama Sōin of the Danrin school of poetry, which emphasized comic linked verse. Scholars have described numerous extraordinary feats of solo haikai composition at one sitting. In life he began writing racy accounts of the financial and amorous affairs of the merchant class and the demimonde; these stories catered to the whims of the newly prominent merchant class, whose tastes of entertainment leaned toward the arts and pleasure districts. Ihara Saikaku was born in 1642 into a well-off merchant family in Osaka. From the age of fifteen he composed haikai no renga. In 1662 at the age of twenty he became a haikai master. Under the pen name Ihara Kakuei, he began to establish himself as a popular haikai poet. By 1670 he had developed his own distinctive style, using colloquial language to depict contemporary chōnin life.
During this time he ran a medium-sized business in Osaka. In 1673 he changed his pen name to Saikaku. However, the death of his dearly beloved wife in 1675 had an profound impact on him. A few days after her death, in an act of grief and true love, Saikaku started to compose a thousand-verse haikai poem over twelve hours; when this work was published it was called Haikai Single Day Thousand Verse. It was the first time; the overall experience and success that Saikaku received from composing such a mammoth exercise has been credited with sparking the writer's interest in writing novels. Shortly after his wife's death, the grief-stricken Saikaku decided to become a lay monk and began to travel all across Japan, thus leaving behind his three children to be cared for by his extended family and his business by his employees, he started his travels after the death of his blind daughter. In 1677 Saikaku returned to Osaka and had learnt of the success his thousand-verse haikai poem had received. From on he pursued a career as a professional writer.
Saikaku continued to produce haikai poetry, but by 1682 he had published The Life of an Amorous Man, the first of his many works of prose fiction. As Saikaku’s popularity and readership began to increase and expand across Japan, so did the amount of literature he published; when he died in 1693, at the age of fifty-one, Saikaku was one of the most popular writers of the entire Tokugawa period. At the time his work was never considered "high" literature because it had been aimed towards and popularised by the chōnin. Saikaku's work is now celebrated for its significance in the development of Japanese fiction; the Life of an Amorous Man The Great Mirror of Beauties: Son of an Amorous Man Five Women Who Loved Love The Life of an Amorous Woman The Great Mirror of Male Love Twenty Cases of Unfilial Children The Eternal Storehouse of Japan Reckonings that Carry Men Through the World or This Scheming World Transmission of the Martial Arts Tales of Samurai Honor "Men take their misfortunes to heart, keep them there.
A gambler does not talk about his losses. All act as one who steps on dog dung in the dark." —Ihara Saikaku, What the Seasons Brought to the Almanac-Maker"In view of our years of intimacy, I am hurt that you should hesitate to die with me. Lest it prove to be a barrier to my salvation in the next life, I decided to include in this final testament all of the grudges against you that have accumulated in me since we first met. First: I made my way at night to your distant residence a total of 327 times over the past three years. Not once did I fail to encounter trouble of some kind. To avoid detection by patrols making their nightly rounds, I disguised myself as a servant and hid my face behind my sleeve, or hobbled along with a cane and lantern dressed like a priest. No one knows the lengths I went to in order to meet you!" —Ihara Saikaku, Love Letter Sent in a Sea Bass Mathers, E. Powys, "Comrade Loves of the Samurai" Morris, Ivan, "The Life of an Amorous Woman and Other Writings" Schalow, Paul Gordon, "The Great Mirror of Male Love" Stubbs, David C. and Takatsuka, Masanori, "This Scheming World" Encyclopædia Britannica Shudo The Great Mirror of Male Love
Kanazōshi describes a type of printed Japanese book, produced in Kyoto between 1600 and 1680. The term means “books written in kana”; the designation thus derives from the fact that the text of these books was written either in kana or in a mixture of kana and kanji. Kanazōshi are considered to be a transitional genre, bridging the gap between medieval romances and the first high point of Edo period literature, the ukiyozōshi composed by Ihara Saikaku; the genre comprises an unlikely assortment of essays, travel guides for famous places, military chronicles, religious writings, critical pieces. Despite the lack of uniformity in content, kanazōshi are classified as a distinct genre based on the fact that they were the first literary works to be printed and circulated in Japan. Scholars maintain that kanazōshi are of higher literary quality and more realistic than medieval forms, such as the otogizōshi, that preceded them. Before the 1620s, the only books available in Japan were handwritten manuscripts.
The printed kanazōshi were less expensive and more available than these earlier manuscripts. They are thus considered the first example of commercial literature produced in Japan. One should keep in mind, the comparatively limited nature of their popularity; the cost of a single volume was still prohibitive, costing the equivalent of what a laborer could earn for two or three days of work. Moreover, the books, because of their small print runs circulated beyond Kyoto and Edo, the publishing centers in premodern Japan. Despite these limitations, the appearance of these books amounted to an important new trend in literary production. Tied to the rise of Japan's urban centers, the growing economic power of the chōnin class, the improvement of literacy rates, the advent of woodblock print technology, kanazōshi emerged as a new, distinctly plebeian form of literature, its authors arose from the educated portion of the population, including scholars, Buddhist priests, samurai and rōnin. But its readership consisted of non-aristocratic residents of Japan's growing cities.
In contrast to otogizōshi and other forms of medieval Japanese tales, kanazōshi tended to be more realistic, with fewer supernatural or fantastic elements. Whether meant to entertain or inform, kanazōshi narratives conveyed more details about the characters and their setting, contained more natural dialogue, showcased a more representative slice of life. Although more skillfully written than otogizōshi, kanazōshi are considered less advanced in terms of structure and wordplay than the subsequent ukiyozōshi composed by Saikaku. Reflecting the tastes of their comparatively less sophisticated audience, kanazōshi relied upon simple puns to generate humor. For instance, the term “hanatare”, which can mean both a runny nose or a drooping flower, is used to describe a young child with the family name of Fujiwara; this type of pun typifies the level of humor found in kanazōshi. Each kanazōshi book consisted of between one and twelve slim volumes of twenty to thirty leaves each, with one-fifth of the space devoted to illustrations.
Book prices were principally determined by the number of volumes. Scholars divide kanazōshi into two groups: Early kanazōshi were written by the educated classes, including lesser samurai, Buddhist priests, scholars; because these works were written by educated authors, they were didactic, promoting moral behavior based on the previous generation’s sense of morality. The early kanazōshi are broken down into three categories: works meant to entertain, works meant to intellectually enlighten, works written to educate people about practical matters. Kanazōshi which were written to entertain include war tales and parodies of earlier classics such as Ise monogatari; those written to promote intellectual growth deal with reconciling the ideas of Buddhism and Confucianism. The more practical kanazōshi include travel guides, samples of well written love letters, critiques of famous courtesans and kabuki actors; the late kanazōshi are those works. Unlike the early kanazōshi, the late kanazōshi were written by commoners for a commoner readership.
This shift in the social class of the authors is reflected in the fact that the protagonists in the works are commoners. In addition, the language used in the kanazōshi is more realistic, male and female characters speak using structures that are specific to their gender. Many scholars believe that this shift towards realism paved the way for ukiyozōshi, a genre, defined by its intense realism. Famous kanazōshi writers include Suzuki Shōsan. Main works include: Nise Monogatari, Shimizu monogatari, Tōkaidō meishoki; the most celebrated example of the genre is Ryōi’s Ukiyo monogatari, a comedic tale about a young man named Hyōtarō who gets himself into all kinds of trouble with gambling and the like, learns valuable lessons about the proper way to live one’s life from town elders. One translation from Europe was distributed as kanazōshi – a three-volume edition of Aesop's Fables, from 1593, entitled Isopo Monogatari; this was the sole Western work to sur
The Edo period or Tokugawa period is the period between 1603 and 1868 in the history of Japan, when Japanese society was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country's 300 regional daimyō. The period was characterized by economic growth, strict social order, isolationist foreign policies, a stable population, "no more wars", popular enjoyment of arts and culture; the shogunate was established in Edo on March 24, 1603, by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The period came to an end with the Meiji Restoration on May 1868, after the fall of Edo. A revolution took place from the time of the Kamakura shogunate, which existed with the Tennō's court, to the Tokugawa, when the samurai became the unchallenged rulers in what historian Edwin O. Reischauer called a "centralized feudal" form of shogunate. Instrumental in the rise of the new-existing bakufu was Tokugawa Ieyasu, the main beneficiary of the achievements of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Powerful, Ieyasu profited by his transfer to the rich Kantō area.
He maintained two million koku of land, a new headquarters at Edo, a strategically situated castle town, had an additional two million koku of land and thirty-eight vassals under his control. After Hideyoshi's death, Ieyasu moved to seize control from the Toyotomi clan. Ieyasu's victory over the western daimyō at the Battle of Sekigahara gave him control of all Japan, he abolished numerous enemy daimyō houses, reduced others, such as that of the Toyotomi, redistributed the spoils of war to his family and allies. Ieyasu still failed to achieve complete control of the western daimyō, but his assumption of the title of shōgun helped consolidate the alliance system. After further strengthening his power base, Ieyasu installed his son Hidetada as shōgun and himself as retired shōgun in 1605; the Toyotomi were still a significant threat, Ieyasu devoted the next decade to their eradication. In 1615, the Tokugawa army destroyed the Toyotomi stronghold at Osaka; the Tokugawa period brought 250 years of stability to Japan.
The political system evolved into what historians call bakuhan, a combination of the terms bakufu and han to describe the government and society of the period. In the bakuhan, the shōgun had national authority and the daimyō had regional authority; this represented a new unity in the feudal structure, which featured an large bureaucracy to administer the mixture of centralized and decentralized authorities. The Tokugawa became more powerful during their first century of rule: land redistribution gave them nearly seven million koku, control of the most important cities, a land assessment system reaping great revenues; the feudal hierarchy was completed by the various classes of daimyō. Closest to the Tokugawa house were the shinpan, or "related houses", they were twenty-three daimyō on the borders of Tokugawa lands. The shinpan held honorary titles and advisory posts in the bakufu; the second class of the hierarchy were the fudai, or "house daimyō", rewarded with lands close to the Tokugawa holdings for their faithful service.
By the 18th century, 145 fudai controlled the greatest assessed at 250,000 koku. Members of the fudai class staffed most of the major bakufu offices. Ninety-seven han formed the tozama, former opponents or new allies; the tozama were located on the peripheries of the archipelago and collectively controlled nearly ten million koku of productive land. Because the tozama were least trusted of the daimyō, they were the most cautiously managed and generously treated, although they were excluded from central government positions; the Tokugawa shogunate not only consolidated their control over a reunified Japan, they had unprecedented power over the emperor, the court, all daimyō and the religious orders. The emperor was held up as the ultimate source of political sanction for the shōgun, who ostensibly was the vassal of the imperial family; the Tokugawa helped the imperial family recapture its old glory by rebuilding its palaces and granting it new lands. To ensure a close tie between the imperial clan and the Tokugawa family, Ieyasu's granddaughter was made an imperial consort in 1619.
A code of laws was established to regulate the daimyō houses. The code encompassed private conduct, dress, types of weapons and numbers of troops allowed. Although the daimyō were not taxed per se, they were levied for contributions for military and logistical support and for such public works projects as castles, roads and palaces; the various regulations and levies not only strengthened the Tokugawa but depleted the wealth of the daimyō, thus weakening their threat to the central administration. The han, once military-centered domains, became mere local administrative units; the daimyō did have full administrative control over their territory and their complex systems of retainers and commoners. Loyalty was exacted from religious foundations greatly weakened by Nobunaga and Hideyoshi, through a variety of control mechanisms. Like Hideyoshi, Ieyasu encouraged foreign trade but was suspicious of outsiders, he wanted to make Edo a major port, but once he learned that the Europeans favored ports in Kyūshū and that China had rejected his plans for official trade, he moved to control existing trade
Kanbun, a form of Classical Chinese as used in Japan, was used from the Heian period to the mid-20th century. Much Japanese literature was written in this style, it was the general writing style for official and intellectual works throughout the period; as a result, Sino-Japanese vocabulary makes up a large portion of the Japanese lexicon, much classical Chinese literature is accessible to Japanese readers in some semblance of the original. The corresponding system in Korean is gugyeol. Kanbun Kundoku can be classified as some sort of creole language, as it is the mixture between native Japanese and classical literary Chinese; the Japanese writing system originated through adaptation of Written Chinese. Japan's oldest books and dictionaries were written in kanbun. Other Japanese literary genres have parallels. Burton Watson's English translations of kanbun compositions provide a good introduction to this literary field. Samuel Martin coined the term "Sino-Xenic" in 1953 to describe Chinese as written in Japan and other "foreign" zones on China's periphery.
Roy Andrew Miller notes that although Japanese kanbun conventions have Sino-Xenic parallels with other traditions for reading Classical Chinese like Korean hanmun 한문 and Vietnamese Hán Văn, only kanbun has survived into the present day. He explains how in the Japanese kanbun reading tradition a Chinese text is punctuated and translated into classical Japanese, it operates according to a limited canon of Japanese forms and syntactic structures which are treated as existing in a one-to-one alignment with the vocabulary and structures of classical Chinese. At its worst, this system for reading Chinese as if it were Japanese became a kind of lazy schoolboy's trot to a classical text. William C. Hannas points out the linguistic hurdles involved in kanbun transformation. Kanbun "Chinese writing," refers to a genre of techniques for making Chinese texts read like Japanese, or for writing in a way imitative of Chinese. For a Japanese, neither of these tasks could be accomplished because of the two languages' different structures.
As I have mentioned, Chinese is an isolating language. Its grammatical relations are identified in subject–verb–object order and through the use of particles similar to English prepositions. Inflection plays no role in the grammar. Morphemes are one syllable in length and combine to form words without modification to their phonetic structures. Conversely, the basic structure of a transitive Japanese sentence is SOV, with the usual syntactic features associated with languages of this typology, including post positions, that is, grammar particles that appear after the words and phrases to which they apply, he lists four major Japanese problems: word order, parsing which Chinese characters should be read together, deciding how to pronounce the characters, finding suitable equivalents for Chinese function words. According to John Timothy Wixted, scholars have disregarded kanbun. In terms of its size its quality, its importance both at the time it was written and cumulatively in the cultural tradition, kanbun is arguably the biggest and most important area of Japanese literary study, ignored in recent times, the one least properly represented as part of the canon.
A new development in kanbun studies is the Web-accessible database being developed by scholars at Nishōgakusha University in Tokyo. The Japanese word kanbun meant "Classical Chinese writings, Chinese classic texts, Classical Chinese literature". Compositions written in kanbun used two common types of Japanese kanji readings: Sino-Japanese on'yomi borrowed from Chinese pronunciations and native Japanese kun'yomi from Japanese equivalents. For example, 道 can be read as dō adapted from Middle Chinese /dấw/ or as michi from the indigenous Japanese word meaning "road, street". Kanbun implemented two particular types of kana: okurigana, "kana suffixes added to kanji stems to show their Japanese readings" and furigana, "smaller kana syllables printed/written alongside kanji to indicate pronunciation", it is important to note these were used as reinforcements to the Kanbun writing. Kanbun – as opposed to Wabun meaning "Japanese text, composition written with Japanese syntax and predominately kun'yomi readings" – is subdivided into several types.
Jun-kanbun "Chinese text, composition written with Chinese syntax and on'yomi Chinese characters" hakubun "unpunctuated kanbun text without reading aids" Wakan konkōbun "Sino-Japanese composition written with Japanese syntax and mixed on'yomi and kun'yomi readings" hentai-kanbun "Chinese modified with Japanese syntax. Classical Chinese, which, as we have seen, h
Ukiyo describes the urban lifestyle the pleasure-seeking aspects, of the Edo-period Japan. The Floating World culture developed in Yoshiwara, the licensed red-light district of Edo, the site of many brothels frequented by Japan's growing middle class. A prominent author of the ukiyo genre was Ihara Saikaku; the ukiyo culture arose in other cities such as Osaka and Kyoto. The famous Japanese woodblock prints known as ukiyo-e, or "pictures of the Floating World", had their origins in these districts and depicted scenes of the Floating World itself such as geisha, kabuki actors, sumo wrestlers, samurai, chōnin, prostitutes; the term ukiyo is an ironic allusion to the homophone ukiyo, the earthly plane of death and rebirth from which Buddhists sought release. Part of the dying,'old' Japanese culture after World War II in the novel An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro. Demimonde