Yōsōki (Records about a Creepy Monk, 1902) is a lesser-known short story of Izumi Kyōka, one of the most popular writers of the Meiji period. Kyōka, known for his fantastic, pictorial and folksy stories, belonged to the renowned literary circle Kenyūsha, founded by Ozaki Kōyō, that committed itself to light fiction and firmly rejected didactically motivated literature. The story Yōsōki presented here for the first time in German translation, stands prototypically in the tradition of the fantastic-aesthetic literature characteristic for Kyōka’s writing.
The Chronicle of Muchimaro (Muchimaro den 武智麻呂伝) is the third and final extant part of the History of the Fujiwara House (Tōshi kaden 藤氏家伝), an eighth century history connected with, and partly attributed to, the courtier Fujiwara no Nakamaro (藤原仲麻呂; 706–764), Muchimaro’s son.
1 Attributed to Enkei, a monk who probably was close to Nakamaro, the text celebrates the virtues and achievements of Muchimaro, a courtier whose life was cut short during the smallpox epidemic of 737. This disaster heavily affected the Fujiwara family and court politics: the four main Fujiwara officials passed away in one year, along with about one-third of the entire population.
2 One of the consequences of the epidemic was the sudden rise of Tachibana no Moroe after 737 and the subsequent competition between him and Muchimaro’s sons, mainly Nakamaro. The compilation of The History of the Fujiwara House can thus be seen as part of an attempt to reestablish the authority of the Fujiwara line by Nakamaro. The text presents Muchimaro as close to the sovereign and celebrates his virtues as an official by referring to and drawing from a variety of continental sources, a characteristic that can also be discerned in the first two parts of the History.
This paper presents a translation of the kyōgen play Rōmusha based on the text from the Toraakibon of the Ōkura (mid seventeenth century) school. It features the role of a boy acolyte within the homoerotic tradition of Buddhist temples in premodern Japan. Those boys were usually termed chigo. While there is already a considerable amount of research done on the historic circumstances and literary conventions in other genres, their appearance in kyōgen theater may add fruitful insights and also shed some light on their function in the comical arts. In the recent years Rōmusha has been performed again several times and it offers a vivid, realistic and erotic atmosphere which is rare to be seen in classical kyōgen. The paper aims to illustrate the structure of the play. While the focus is on the role of the chigo, comical aspects of the drama, references to nō theatre and different interpretations and performance practices will also be mentioned.
The Incense Ceremony is one of Japans traditional arts. After the early court enjoyed fragrance and incense in a playful manner (as documented by sources dating back as far as the early eighth century), it evolved during the fifteenth century into a complex ceremony. The moment of olfactory perception turned into a strict ritual, which combined performative as well as ornamental constituents. In the following Edo period (1603–1868) the Incense Ceremony is characterized by a significant rise in popularity, marked by a growing number of practitioners, who used written treatises to teach and transmit practical knowledge about the art. As one of the first printed treatises the Kōdō hidensho 香道秘伝書 (1669) reached wide circulation. Additionally, the number of comments on this specific treatise published in the century following its publication attest to its high status. While there are other treatises focusing on some aspects of the ceremony in more detail, the Kōdō hidensho does provide a solid overview on the ceremony, its material and performative constituents, its games and how they were celebrated. Consisting of nine separate parts in its entirety, the following translation presents the first two.
This article proposes a translation of the Kyūmokuryō, or Law on Stables and Pastures, which is included in the Yōrō Era Code (718). It is the oldest extant text to systematically address only bovine and equine species, illustrating how the state protected, promoted, and enhanced their well-being. The Law provides the knowledge required to manage stables and pastures, from the allocation of tasks and duties of staff to feeding modalities (quantity, quality, and times of foraging, consumption of grass, salt, etc.), from annual animal marking and recording procedures to the treatment of illness, loss (and finding), death, mating, and calving/foaling, as well as how private animals may be exploited and the use of animals for military purposes. Historical commentaries and dictionaries have been a valuable resource in preparing the translation, and elements of animal welfare that are regarded as good practice even today are highlighted.
The introduction discusses the noh play Hakurakuten in relation to the earlier introduction to and translation of the play by Arthur Waley, the reading of the play by Leo Shingchi Yip, and the concepts of allusion and allusive space advanced by Joseph Pucci. Using Pucci’s concepts, I discuss the allusions to literary texts, cultural practices, and historical events and persons in Hakurakuten in a new manner as well as assess the aspects of the play both Waley and Yip overlook and how Waley and Yip’s readings fit into an allusive space reading of the play. The translation is based on the version of the play appearing in Itō Masayoshi’s annotated volume and incorporates as much as possible the information Itō gives. It contains a translation of the kyōgen interlude, which is important to appreciating the central theme of the play and was left out of the Waley translation. It also contains more footnotes than the earlier Waley translation, notes that point out matters such as puns in language and source material for lines.
This paper sheds light on a little-known text written by a very well-known figure, Kibi no Makibi (693–775). During the Nara Period (710–794) and with the advent of kentôshi, the Japanese embassies to the Tang, he went to China twice (717–735 and 752–753), first as a student, then as a vice-ambassador. Kibi no Makibi is presumably responsible for bringing back a vast amount of Chinese books to Japan and his influence in shaping the burgeoning Imperial University (Daigakuryô) makes him one of the most important intellectual figures of his time. The examined text, the fragmentary Shikyô-ruijû (Private Teachings Arranged by Topic) written in kanbun (literary sinitic), is the longest extant text by its author, and it is translated and annotated here with a critical discussion regarding its authenticity. It has not received much scholarly attention, although it is probably one of the first texts on education in the history of Japan and the first to-date instance of the genre of « house teachings » (kakun).