SOKENDAI Review of Cultural and Social Studies


vol.18 (2022)

The Dream of Kantan and the Image of Tojin

YU Xuejian

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

Key words:

Kantan’s dream, The First Dream of Kantan’s Pillow, machinery, Tojin, Ningyo joruri, The Battles of Coxinga, The Stolen Crystal Jewel, jiguchi

The famous story of Kantan’s Dream, which originates from the Chuanqi “The World Inside a Pillow”, was often used as an important literary mechanism in the early modern period in Japan and influenced many gesaku (light literature) works. Professor Kinkin’s Dream of Splendor, for example, which is highly regarded as the beginning of Kibyoshi (illustrated storybooks with yellow covers), used precisely this mechanism.

The First Dream of Kantan’s Pillow actively incorporates elements related to ningyo joruri written by CHIKAMATSU Monzaemon and Tojin gyoretsu, which make the story full of exoticism.

Based on confirmation of the sources of the relevant documents, this paper re-examined the publication year of the text of The First Dream of Kantan’s Pillow and examined how the mechanism of Kantan’s Dream is utilized, how the exotic text is created, and how the Tojin is depicted in the text.

Based on prior studies, this paper also examined the names of multiple illustrators involved and relevant information suggested by words and sentences in the text, and as a result, put forward a new hypothesis about its publication year

By clarifying the source of the text, it was found that many words and sentences in the work are cited from the Noh play Kantan and that the plot related to Golden Millet Dream in the Taiheiki underlies this work. In addition to these elements, it also achieves the effect of popularization and making an interesting development by quoting words and sentences in ningyo joruri plays includiong The Battles of Coxinga and The Stolen Crystal Jewel.

Finally, this paper explains how this work makes full use of Ningyo joruri and Tojin gyoretsu, which was created, inspired by Joseon missions to Japan, to construct the dream world of the Tojin. At the same time, it also examines how the author used jiguchi (paronomasia) based on Kabuki, ningyo joruri, popular songs, and the customs of the era to playfully depict the Tojin in comparison to Japanese people.