Week 12: Culture of the Tokugawa (Edo) Period

In Week 12 we look at popular and some elite culture of the Tokugawa period. This time is often also called “Edo period”, after the location of the Tokugawa bakufu (headquarters of the shōgun), in what is now Tokyo. Much of what we think of as traditional Japanese art and culture took shape in the preceding period, but new developments took place during the long and stable reign of the Tokugawa shōguns. In particular popular forms of theatre, as opposed to the formal Nō theatre, were developed during this time.

Please fill out the Googleform survey (also emailed to you), so I can take stock. I try to keep a regular schedule for the rest of the semester, so there is some stability for your, too. But as always: I welcome your feedback! Let me know if this works for you, if it is too much, or if you have suggestions for improvements. You can also email me or leave anonymous comments on the Pad, anytime!

All passwords and links for Zoom can be found on the Canvas Homepage of the course. I hope you like its new and (hopefully) improved look with the Table of Contents and the links!

Schedule
  • Monday: (anytime before midnight) reflection on course materials from week 11: this is a chance to show how you have consolidated your knowledge of this topic. How have your ideas changed through repeated interactions with peers and the course materials during the past week? What connections do you see with other course materials? What are the big lessons you learned, to carry forward through the rest of the semester?
            • Post on your blog, under the category HST267
            • Include the words “Week 11” in the title of your post.
  • Tuesday Zoom session 1pm (pink link on Canvas Homepage): check in with your classmates, talk about the course materials/readings, or about any of the assignments for this week.
  • Tuesday (anytime before midnight): First post on the Canvas discussion board due.
  • Wednesday (anytime before midnight) : Two responses to other students’ posts due, on the Canvas discussion board.
  • Thursday Zoom session 1pm (pink link on Canvas Homepage): “regular class”: we will go into more detail about the course materials for the week, based on the discussions.
  • Tuesday (April 14): reflection course materials week 11. (You may complete it earlier, but this is pushed back 1 day to respect the Easter break)
Readings/course materials
  • Varley:
        • refresh pp. 160 (middle of page: “One of the most prominent people…) to p.163
        • pp. 170-193 (middle of page, end at “… more lively puppets.”
  • Videos:
        • Thursday’s session: Find the recording on the dedicated Canvas Page for recordings
        • Tea ceremony (Canvas link)
        • Kabuki theatre (Youtube link): “History of Kabuki: Classical Japanese Dance”, NHK, n.d.
        • Bunraku theatre (through Trexler library): “Bunraku: The Classical Puppets of Japan.” Directed by Brockway, Merrill. Creative Arts Television, 1973.
        • Video lecturette: historical background to economic and cultural developments of the Tokugawa period. (Slides -Gdrive link)
  • Choose ONE of the following sets of texts (A, B or C) for your initial discussion post. In the second responses, strive to engage with people who chose a different set.
  • Optional extras are just that: optional extras. These are texts that in the reshuffle have fallen by the wayside, but maybe you are interested in learning more Japanese culture!

A. Sen Rikyu on Tea ceremony (chanoyu):

  • Selection of Sen no Rikyu’s poetry on Cha no yu (From Sadler, A. L. Cha-No-Yu: The Japanese Tea Ceremony. Rutland, Vt.: C.E. Tuttle, 1977. First published 1933 by J.L Thompson & Co.) (PDF, pp. 1-6)
    • Sen no Rikyu is the man behind the modern cha no yu (“tea ceremony”). How does his poetry align with the aesthetic of the tea ceremony as you observe it in the video? How do the poetry and ceremony align with what we learned earlier about Japanese aesthetics? Where does it differ?
  • Sen no Rikyu. “One Hundred Rules” (extract). (From Sadler, A. L. Cha-No-Yu: The Japanese Tea Ceremony. Rutland, Vt.: C.E. Tuttle, 1977. First published 1933 by J.L Thompson & Co.) (same PDF as above, pp. 7-10)
    • Do Sen no Rikyo’s rules make the tea ceremony enjoyable? Why (not)? What similarities and differences do you observe between this set of rules and the earlier descriptions of the tea parties we saw?

B: Kabuki play:

  • Namiki Senryū. “Suma Bay.” In Traditional Japanese Theater: An Anthology of Plays, edited by Karen Brazell, and James T Araki, 442-455. Translations from the Asian Classics. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998. (PDF)
    • The kabuki play on the death of Atsumori explores yet a different aspect of this timeless story. Compare with the versions from the Tale of Heike and the nō play: what are the most important aspects the writer Senryū highlights?

C: Bunraku play:

  • Chikamatsu Monzaemon. “The Battles of Coxinga”. In Traditional Japanese Theater: An Anthology of Plays, edited by Karen Brazell, and James T Araki, 314-332. Translations from the Asian Classics. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998. (PDF)
    • This play is loosely based on historical events surrounding the conquest of Ming China by the Manchus. Coxinga was a historical figure from the second half of the seventeenth century, when the shōguns of Japan were trying to limit contacts with the outside world outside of their control. How does this Chinese story manage to appeal to a Japanese audience of the seventeenth century?

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

  • “Early Haikai Poetry and Poetics.” In Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600-1900, edited by Shirane, Haruo, 170-172. 2002. Translations from the Asian Classics. New York: Columbia University Press. (PDF)
        • Note that the commentary is from the translator/editor, and only the poems are from the Edo period.
        • What is appreciated in this type of poetry? Is that different from what came before?
  • “Little Atsumori.” In Monsters, Animals, and Other Worlds: A Collection of Short Medieval Japanese Tales, edited by Keller Kimbrough and Haruo Shirane, 250-64. Translations from the Asian Classics. New York: Columbia Univ. Press 2018. (PDF)
        • Atsumori is back! Or rather: his ghost is back. What happens to the young son of Atsumori? How does this story compare with the Nō play, and with the original? How does the genre of the “picture scroll” (emaki) change the way the story of Atsumori’s ghost is told?