Sokendai Review of Cultural and Social Studies


Realism and Kyojitsu Hinikuron


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

Key words:

Chikamatsu Monzaemon, realism, Kyojitsu Hinikuron, Takechi Kabuki, tradition

This paper explores how Chikamatsu’s Kyojitsu Hinikuron has been accepted from pre-modern to modern era, by examining discourses of scholars, actors, directors, and critics. Since Kyojitsu Hinikuron and other Geidan (talks on art) by actors of the Genroku period refer to Shajitsu (Japanese idea of realism), they have been regarded as a significant theory for traditional theatre to survive to this day along with modern theatre pursuing Western realism. Therefore, it has been thought that Kyojitsu Hinikuron and Geidan dealt with not only issues on actual acting techniques but also ideological issues on how to represent a reality of the society on stages. Chikamatsu’s Kyojitsu Hinikuron has played a crucial role to revive traditional theatre as a ‘living’ classic, not a relic of the past.

It is not a novel discussion in theatre studies to point out the fact that traditional theatre and Shingeki affected each other especially after WW2. Besides, nowadays, Chikamatsu’s Kyojitsu Hinikuron might no longer draw the interest of scholars of pre-modern literature and theatre. However, by re-examining it from the viewpoint of Japanese cultural history, we can find why Chikamatsu was regarded as one of the greatest writers in Japan, why he was praised for depicting Giri-Ninjo vividly, which have been assumed as Japan’s national characters, how Kyojitsu Hinikuron became a pioneer in studies on fictionality in Japanese literary history, and why it is playing an important role even in the present Japanese culture.