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JAPANESE LITERATURE

BACKGROUND:
Capital and largest city: TOKYO
Major religion:

Shinto- polytheistic one venerating almost any natural objects ranging from mountains, rivers, water, rocks, trees, to
dead notables. In other words, it is based on animism.

Buddhism
Government: Parliamentary with constitutional monarchy
Official language: Japanese
One of the worlds leading industrial and trading nations and the first Asian to develop a technologically advance
economy
Became the worlds 2nd leading economic power
Japan is home to many different forms of martial arts:Karate, Judo, Sumo, Ninjutsu, Kendo, Jujutsu, and Aikido
Animated Japanese films and television shows (Anime)account for 60% of the worlds animation-based entertainment
LITERATURE:
Early works of Japanese literature were heavily influenced by cultural contact with China and Chinese literature, often
written in Classical Chinese.
Indian literature also had an influence through the diffusion of Buddhism in Japan. Eventually, Japanese literature
developed into a separate style in its own right as Japanese writers began writing their own works about Japan,
although the influence of Chinese literature and Classical Chinese remained .

PERIODS:
1. ANCIENT LITERATURE
KOJIKI (Record of Ancient Matters) - Explains the cosmology of Japanese and justifies the legitimacy of the ruling house
as descendants of the sun goddess.
MANYOSHU- "Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves - Compendium of 4500 poems in several forms. -The most brilliant
literary product of this period composed by people ranging from unknown commoners to emperors

2. Classical Literature (8th Century - 12th Century)


refers to literature produced during the Heian period, referred to as the golden era of art and literature.
Development of kana a syllabic writing system that suited the Japanese better
Tales of Ise collection of poems w/ long prose contents
Tosa Diary prose travel diary by the courtier poet KI NO TSURAYUKI
Most Famous
THE TALE OF GENJI by MURASAKI SHIKIBU
The pillow book - Short comments by Shei Shonagon
3. Japanese Medieval Literature (13th Century - 16th Century)
The Tale Of The Heike - Major epic of Japan that Thematizes the battles during the Gempei war
The Confessions Of Lady Nijo
Essays in Idleness
No drama - By the writings of ZEAMI MOTOKIYO. NO drama was transformed from rural folk entertainment into highly
literary, dramatic art.
Togukawa period
Haiku and poetic travel accounts of Basho
Plays of Chikamatsu Monzaemon
Witty fiction of Ihara Saikaku

4. Modern literature (1868 to the present)


Tsubouchi Shoyo- wrote the The Essence Of The Novel, it itroduced many ideas from Victorian lit. crit.
Mori Ogai wrote novels that is heavily romantic in mood
Shimazaki Toson- best known for the the Broken Commndment
Natsume Soseki-Known for his introspective Philosophical novels
Abe Kobo

Tanizaki Junichiro
Kawabata Yasunuri
Mishima yukio
Oe Kenza Buro

Contemporary Japanese writers


Haruri murakami
Feministic writer Sawako ARiyoshi

Kabuki - A popular Japanese theater form in which stylized acting is combined with lyric singing, dancing and spectacular staging.
The word kabuki means song, dance and acting.
OKUNI first woman to perform kabuki
Classical plays:
1. Bunraku is a sophisticated puppet theater written and performed for adult audiences with cultivated sensibilities. It
reached its peak in the late 17th and early 18th centuries
2. Kabuki
3. No drama - a form of theater involving music, dance and drama, originating in the 14th century
FAMOUS AUTHORS AND LITERARY WORKS
1.

The Tale of Genji


It is written in the eleventh century by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady of the Heian court.
It is universally recognized as the greatest masterpiece of Japanese prose narrative, perhaps the earliest true novel in
the history of the world

Murasaki Shikibu (English: Lady Murasaki) was a Japanese novelist, poet and lady-in-waiting at the Imperial court
during the Heian period. She is best known as the author of The Tale of Genji, written in Japanese between about 1000
and 1012. Murasaki Shikibu is a nickname; her real name is unknown, but she may have been Fujiwara Takako, who
was mentioned in a 1007 court diary as an imperial lady-in-waiting.

She married in her mid-to late twenties and gave birth to a daughter before her husband died, two years after they were
married. It is uncertain when she began to write The Tale of Genji, but it was probably while she was married or shortly
after she was widowed. In about 1005, Murasaki was invited to serve as a lady-in-waiting to Empress Shshi at the
Imperial court, probably because of her reputation as a writer. She continued to write during her service, adding scenes
from court life to her work.

2.

Haiku
A traditional Japanese verse that expresses a single emotion or idea
Has 17 syllables, 5-7-5
Emerged during 16th century and developed by Basho
EZRA POUND initiated the vogue for western imitations

Matsuo Basho - he is recognized as the greatest master of haiku. Matsuo Bash's poetry is internationally renowned;
and, in Japan, many of his poems are reproduced on monuments and traditional sites
- Psuedonym of Matsuo Munefusa
- He served as a samurai as a young man
-His haiku is focused on the natural world
- He keeps diaries as he traveled widely, The Narrow Road To The Far North
Samples of Bashos haiku:
Many, many things
they bring up to mindcherry blossoms.

On a withered branch
A crow has settled
autumn nightfall.

Cool it is and still:


Just the tip of the crescent
moon
Over black-wing Hill.

3.

The Madman On The Roof


a Japanese play written in 1916 by Kikuchi Kan. It is a short, funny story about a father who is concerned about his
24-year-old son, who climbs on the roof to watch the sunset. The father is concerned that his son is not entirely sane,
and might hurt himself and embarrass the family.
His other son tries to convince his father that as long as his brother isn't hurting anyone, there is no harm in letting him
sit on the roof and enjoy the sunset.
The moral is "a madman who is able to enjoy the beauty of a sunset is far better off than the fully sane man who
doesn't."
Characters:
Katsushima Yoshitaro the madman, 24 years of age
Katsushima Suejiro his brother, a 17 year old high school student
Katsushima Gisuke their father
Katsushima Oyoshi their mother
Tosaku their neighbour
Kichiji manservant, twenty years of age
Priestess about fifty years of age