Sokendai Review of Cultural and Social Studies


Modernity from the viewpoint of
“traditional theatre”: Shoyo’s study
on Chikamatsu


(The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, School of Cultural and Social Studies,
Department of Japanese Studies

Key words;

Tsubouchi Shoyo, Chikamatsu Monzaemon, criticism, tradition, classics

This paper explores the study on Chikamatsu Monzaemon conducted by a research group with Tsubouchi Shoyo as a leader at the end of the 19th century.

Studies on Tsubouchi Shoyo have often been conducted in the field of the modern literature and modern theatre studies. In the pre-modern theatre studies, however, Tsubouchi’s research works on Chikamatsu are of decreasing importance. Since a considerable number of texts and materials of Chikamatsu, and theatrical materials of the Edo period were discovered and sorted out after WW2, recent researchers rarely refer to works of Tsubouchi, who conducted research without seeing such recently discovered materials.

Nevertheless, we need to examine Tsubouchi’s study on Chikamatsu when we think about the process where a pre-modern work gains a reputation as Japan’s classic literature in the modern era.

Considering the fact that pre-modern performing arts such as Kabuki and Joruri are still active as show-business, and that they are now registered as the World Heritages, it is important to explore Tsubouchi’s research works on Chikamatsu as it could make clear how a pre-modern work survives into modern days.

This paper examined Kuzunoha and Houkuzushu, the earliest critical works on Chikamatsu by Tsubouchi and his students.

First, the paper makes clear the fact that Kuzunoha and Houkuzushu involve not only literary and theatrical theories which Tsubouchi found but also experiments for methodologies of the academic criticism.

Next, the paper investigated the reason why the modern intellectual group chose Chikamatsu’s plays as research subjects, which were not often staged despite their high reputation. Through my investigations, the fact came out that the group invited a person as an observer, who was born in the Edo period and familiar with art and literature in the same period. Also, many authors of the first half of the 19th century, whose works the observer loved, had highly acclaimed Chikamatsu’s plays. These findings are not based oncircumstantial evidence, but are able to be proved by the relationships between the intellectuals and various sauce materials.

After referring to the disputes between Tsubouchi and some critics who were not a member of Tsubouchi’s research group, the paper made clear the process the critical methodologies discussed in Houkuzushu were reinforced and applied to theatre reviews.

Through these investigations, the paper clarified the background where Chikamatsu came out as one of the leading authors of Japan’s classic literature, and the criterion of such a great reputation that Chikamatus enjoyed in the modern days.