HIGUCHI ICHIYŌ S TAKEKURABE: ITS RECEPTION IN CONNECTION WITH POST-WAR EDUCATION 1 - PDF

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HIGUCHI ICHIYŌ S TAKEKURABE: ITS RECEPTION IN CONNECTION WITH POST-WAR EDUCATION 1 KAYO SASAO Abstract: Higuchi Ichiyō s Takekurabe, published in 1895, was praised by numerous men

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HIGUCHI ICHIYŌ S TAKEKURABE: ITS RECEPTION IN CONNECTION WITH POST-WAR EDUCATION 1 KAYO SASAO Abstract: Higuchi Ichiyō s Takekurabe, published in 1895, was praised by numerous men of letters as an example of the literature emerging at the beginning of the Meiji era, and went on to become one of the classics of Japanese literature, read by young and old alike. My paper looks at the new patterns of reception that appeared in the post-war period, and points out the way Ichiyō s novel was translated into modern Japanese, as well as into manga and film form, in order to reach a wider (and younger) audience, and fit the sensibilities of the age, as well as its political, social and cultural requirements. The problems faced during the translation process include, on the one hand, transposing old Japanese into modern Japanese, and on the other hand, the necessity to find a suitable solution as far as the location (the pleasure quarters of Yoshiwara, a not-so-honourable topos connected to Japan s feudal past) of the story is concerned. By taking up the topic of the Takekurabe s rewriting, I am planning to clarify the relationship between its form and contents after translation, on the one hand, and democratic thought in the post-war period on the other. Keywords: Higuchi Ichiyō, Takekurabe, school, pleasure quarters, translation, reform, democracy. Introduction Takekurabe s s sixteen chapters were first published in installments in the magazine Bungakukai, between 1895 and In April 1896 the entire novel was published in Bungei Kurabu, one of the representative literary magazines of the period. Famous men of letters such as Mori Ōgai, Kōda Rohan and Saitō Ryokuu read and praised Ichiyō s novel, which turned her into one of the most appreciated writers of the time. 1 Translated from Japanese by Irina Holca (Osaka University). Lecturer, Ph.D., - Ryugoku University, Japan. 132 VOLUME III, NO. 1/MARCH 2012 Nowadays, among all of Ichiyō s works, Takekurabe is considered to be a good example of literature for children, and it has been translated as a picture book and as manga, to make it more accessible for children; yet, when looking at the plot and settings of Takekurabe, one cannot help but wonder how was this novel understood by its young readers. It is true that Takekurabe is a story about children, revolving around the summer and fall festivals. The novel describes the fight between the omote-machi gang, lead by Shōtarō, and Chōkichi s yoko-chō gang on the day of Senzoku Shrine s summer festival, the way children get together and play every day at the brush-maker s, the teenage feelings of love directed at the only girl in the group, Midori, etc. The protagonists are all children, and the way the story develops is greatly influenced by one external element, i.e., the location. The story is set in Shitaya Ryūsenji-chō, an area behind the pleasure quarters of Yoshiwara, where the licensed prostitutes used to live. It is also the place where, since the Edo period, the people working in the pleasure quarters, called kuruwamono, were living. Midori s sister is, in fact, a highclass courtesan in Yoshiwara, and Midori, who had come with her to Shitaya Ryūsenji-chō, will eventually start working in the pleasure quarters as a courtesan herself. Nevertheless, the young Midori does not know yet what s in store for her, nor does she know what kind of place Yoshiwara actually is. In the story, she is innocently proud of her sister s affluence, and falls in love with Shin nyo, a Buddhist priest s son, with whom she could never get married, because of the difference in social status. Towards the end of the story, Midori says that she does not want to grow up; she loses her lively manner and no longer comes out to play with the children, who used to call her their queen. These are indications that her childhood will soon be over, and Midori is slowly being engulfed by the adult world of Yoshiwara. In a nutshell, Takekurabe does not simply describe the carefree world of children and children s games, but places it in sharp contrast with the sexual trade going on in the pleasure quarters. The scene of the novel Takekurabe is actually the place Higuchi Ichiyō herself lived. She was born in Tokyo in 1872, at a time when the Edo period was just ending and Meiji had yet to begin, as the daughter of a former samurai; she had a quite privileged childhood, but, with the death of her older brother and father, her life drastically changed. In order to support her mother and younger sister, she decided to write novels, but since that was not enough, they had to open a household goods store, in Shitaya Ryūsenji-chō. Some years later, Ichiyō left Shitaya and started EUROMENTOR JOURNAL 133 writing again; she gained the recognition she wanted, but in 1896, at the age of only 24, she died of consumption. As I mentioned before, Mori Ōgai praised Takekurabe and he praised it exactly for its detailed and vivid description of the unique customs of Yoshiwara. Ichiyō based much of the description on her own experiences and on what she had heard from the people living in the area; it is not difficult to imagine why the setting of her novel did not make it very appropriate as children s literature in the beginning. As a matter of fact, when it was first adapted as a children s book in 1940 by Muramatsu Sadataka, publication was forbidden. The reasons given by the censoring authorities were connected to the bad influence on morals ; the official document stated that, being set in the vicinity of the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters, the novel focuses on the life of children living in a very peculiar environment, and is too indecent for young readers 2. In other words, the first contact between Takekurabe and children s literature ended in failure, but this situation underwent a complete change only a few years later. Muramatsu Sadataka s Jidō Takekurabe [Children s Takekurabe] was published in 1948, as the first volume in the collection Shōnen Shōjo Bungaku Shū. This change is reflected in the way Takekurabe is perceived today too; but what was, in fact, the reason Ichiyō s novel was suddenly linked to children s literature at this specific point in time? My paper does not have as its purpose the analysis of the text Takekurabe itself, but rather of the way the reception of the text changed in time. The fact that this novel was suddenly perceived as one appropriate for children is directly connected to the Second World War, and its end in defeat for the Japanese, on August 15, 1945; it clearly puts into perspective Japan s post-war experience, in other words. My intention here is to shed light onto the relationship between literature and society, by looking closely at some aspects of the intersection between post-war Japan and Takekurabe. A clear proof of Takekurabe s re-evaluation in the post-war period is its introduction to school education. Not only did it become compulsory reading, as part of the high-school language and literature textbooks, but it was also introduced to junior high-school in the form of a school-play script, and as a manga book, included in several collections of stories especially published for school children. 2 Kōduki Kagetaka, Jidō Tosho Ken etsu ni tsuite, in Jidō Bunka Jō, Nishimura Shoten, VOLUME III, NO. 1/MARCH 2012 What is, exactly, the process through which school education and Ichiyō s text become linked to each other? What is the point that post-war education is trying to make, using Takekurabe? When Ichiyō s novel was translated into play or manga form, was it only to make the text, originally written in classical Japanese, easier to read? The problem goes deeper than that, for sure, since translation can never be a completely transparent medium, inevitably adding a context-dependant reinterpretation of the text. By analyzing the various translations of Takekurabe, I will try to clarify what aspects of Ichiyō s novel are emphasized and re-evaluated in each of them; by looking at the essence of these re-evaluations, I would finally like to link them to the changes that govern post-war Japanese society. 1. The Translation of Takekurabe and School as a Topos First of all, let us look at the Japanese post-war education, and identify the reasons for Takekurabe to be reconsidered as a work of art of high educational value. The year that Takekurabe was first published as a book for children, 1947, is also the first year of the so-called post-war education, which started with the promulgation and enforcement of the March 31 st Kyōiku Kihon Hō [Basic Law of Education]. The law in operation until then, Kyōiku Chokugo, the imperial prescript promulgated on the 30 th of October 1890, had been the only act legislating Japanese education. The preface to the Basic Law of Education contains the following declaration: We are hereby showing our dedication towards contributing for the welfare of all humanity and world-wide peace, through the establishment of a national constitution, and through the creation of a democratic country, with a high level of culture. The power of education will lay the foundations for our endeavour. The new constitution had been promulgated the previous year, on the 3 rd of November, and was to come in operation one month later, that is from April 1947, but the education for a democratic state, with high cultural standards had already started 3. Takekurabe was rediscovered and reinterpreted as teaching material following the enforcement of the Basic law of Education; 3 More details in Komori Yōichi s Kenpō, GHQ, Kyōiku Kihon Hō, in the volume Sengo Nihon Studies 1; Nendai, Tokyo, Kinokuniya Shoten, Komori states that the use of the plural we in this edict, as opposed to the imperial I used in the previous prescript, is one indication of the movement towards democratization. EUROMENTOR JOURNAL 135 the interesting issue here is to look at why this happened, and at what meanings the text was subsequently made to carry. The protagonists of Takekurabe are all children living in the vicinity of the pleasure quarters of Yoshiwara, a very peculiar topos, to be sure, but another special coordinate that is added to their lives is the school they all attend. The relationships between the children are, on the one hand, traditionally defined by the regional ties between the omote-machi and the yoko-chō, but on the other hand, by the different type of ties that develop at school. As far as Shin nyo from Ryūsenji and Daikokuya s Midori are concerned, they attend the same school, and the narrator describes their relationship as follows in chapter 7: The spring sports festival was held on the Mizunoya field ( ) For some reason, Shin nyo was not his usual, composed self; he had kneeled down under a pine-tree near the lake, with his hands in the red dirt. Midori couldn t stand looking at him get his clothes dirty, so she went up and offered him her handkerchief: Use this, please, to wipe yourself, she said ( ) In the beginning, Midori used to call him, and they used to walk back home together after school; she would walk ahead of Shin nyo, and if she found a flower that she liked, she would wait for him, and say: Look, that flower is so pretty, but I can t reach, can you get it from me, please? 4 In this fragment, the sports festival and after school activities are paid special attention to, which clearly shows that the children s world revolves around school. For Shin nyo, a Buddhist priest s son, and Midori, a girl living in the pleasure quarter, two people from worlds otherwise completely separate, school is the exceptional place that makes their encounter possible. According to the laws passed by the Meiji government, all children were given the chance to go to school the centralized school system pervaded even the most traditional of spaces, and thus, Yoshiwara s Shin nyo and Midori met. It is not a coincidence that this very chapter, was the first one to be chosen to be introduced to post-war education. Takekurabe was directly rewritten for enjoyment as a school-play by Tajima Yoshio in 1950; it was included in the volume Jitsuen Shidō Mohan Gakkōgeki Zenshū, from Shōgakukan. I will enlarge upon the significance 4 p All quotations from Takekurabe are from The Complete Works of Higuchi Ichiyō, Tokyo, Chikuma Shobō, 1994, vol. I. 136 VOLUME III, NO. 1/MARCH 2012 of the chosen form, i.e., a play, later; for now, let me remark that Ichiyō s novel was translated in a way especially meant to encourage elementary school children to act the text on stage, as it included detailed stage directions and even descriptions of props, decors, etc. Next, let us focus on the play Takekurabe, in order to identify the elements that connect the text Takekurabe with school as a topos. The play is made up of three acts, and in the first act, as in the original text, the children are described playing at the brush-maker s. After all the other girls leave, Midori stays on, chatting with the brush-maker s wife; the story overlaps with the episode from chapter 7 that I introduced in the previous quotation: after referring to the relationship between Shin nyo and Midori, the narrator goes on to talk about how Shin nyo has started to act bitter towards Midori in order to avoid the irony of his friends, how Midori feels betrayed by him, and how the distance between them is starting to grow. Furthermore, the fight between the children from omotemachi and those from yoko-chō, after the festival at the Senzoku Shrine is also described, as well as Midori s angry words for Shin nyo, who had joined the yoko-chō group. In the first act of the school-play Takekurabe, we can find the following conversation between Midori and the brushmaker s wife: Midori: Everybody knows that Chōkichi is a rough good-for-nothing, but the fight wouldn t have gotten so far without Shin nyo pushing everybody from behind The wife: But, Midori dear yoko-chō or omote-machi, aren t you all going to the same school? Aren t you all sitting down at your desks, in the same classroom? Why the rivalry, I don t understand. Every year, there s something that sparks the fight. What can be done? Midori: (knowing that she should probably say something, but unable to find the words.) 5 In the original text, the phrase After sitting together in the same classroom, whether from omote-machi or yoko-chō, we re all supposed to be fellows is introduced to express Midori s feelings about the fight between the two gangs, but in the school-play it is the brush-maker s wife that says it. Even though the play follows the original text closely, it tends to give a 5 Tajima Yoshio, Takekurabe, in Jitsuen Shidō Mohan Gakkōgeki Zenshū, Tokyo, Shōgakukan, EUROMENTOR JOURNAL 137 slightly different twist to the episodes that relate to the changes in the school environment. The same thing is made obvious in the manga version of Takekurabe, published five years after the play, as part of the collection Sekai Meisaku Chōhen Manga 6. Let us take a look at the following excerpt from this illustrated book: Fig. 1 Takeda Masao, Takekurabe In the Rules about Class Organization, promulgated in 1891, one year after the Imperial Edict on Education, it is indicated that only the first and second grades of elementary school are coeducational, while after the third grade boys and girls study separately. Regardless of whether the school was public or private, the curricula for boys and girls were different, too. The protagonists of Takekurabe are 14 (Midori) and 15 (Shin nyo); the classroom is not described in the text, and the two of them sharing the same classroom refers to a thing of the past. Nevertheless, both in the school-play and in the manga Takekurabe the children, boys and girls, are described as sitting side by side in the same room. This slight change is meant to reflect the existing state of things in the post-war classroom. Koyama Shizuko points out that, during the discussions about the Basic Law of Education, an article about women s education was proposed originally, and from there the issue of co-education arose, and further developed into the understanding that democratization cannot be achieved without equal chances at education for both sexes 7. At the time of the promulgation of the law, numerous articles in the media Takeda Masao, Shūeisha, Tokyo, Koyama Shizuko, Danjo Kyōgaku no Jisshi, in Sengo Kyōiku Jenda Chitsujo, Tokyo, Keisō Shobō, VOLUME III, NO. 1/MARCH 2012 discussed democratization and coeducation as inseparable issues 8, and it is no exaggeration to say that the engine behind the post-war educational reform was indeed the need to offer equal chances of access to the same education for boys and girls alike. As a result of the discussions carried out within the legislating body as well as in the media, the 5 th article of the Basic Law of Education, About Coeducation was decided upon, and it stated clearly that Men and women should respect each other and work together, and to that end it is of the utmost necessity that we clear the way for mixed education. Released on the same day as the Basic Law of Education was the Law for School Education (Gakkō Kyōiku Hō, ); according to it, education in school was divided into: 6 years of elementary school, 3 of junior highschool, 3 of high-school, and 4 years at university. The new system was implemented at junior high and high-school level starting the same year in April. As far as coeducation is concerned, it was made compulsory at junior high-school level in public schools, while in private schools the decision was left in the hands of the schools themselves; in the case of high-schools, both public and private ones were to act according to the situation, implementing co-education where possible 9. To return to Takekurabe s post-war renditions, the image of boys and girls studying in the same classroom is clearly meant to reflect the reality of the newly-introduced co-education. Moreover, the ages of the Takekurabe protagonists (13-16 years old) correspond to the ages of the children who fell under the effect of the new law (junior high-school). Transforming Takekurabe into a play, coeducation is directly linked to the direct, bodily experience of young boys and girls sharing the same space inside the post-war classroom. In this context, how was Ichiyō s novel received and understood? Let us take into consideration this issue in the next section. 8 For example, in the Tensei Jingo column of the morning edition of the Asahi Shinbun newspaper (June 2, 1947), coeducation is mentioned as a means of doing away with the inequalities between sexes, and of eradicating the belief that men are superior to women, in order to break away from the feudalistic past, and promptly walk on the path towards democratization. Despite the public support, discussions drag on, and the reform was therefore much delayed. 9 The following articles explain the Ministry of Education s policy vis-à-vis coeducation: Shingaku Seido no Jisshi ni tsuite (in Hatsugaku vol. 50, ), or Shingaku Seido Jisshi Junbi ni Kansuru Ken (in Hatsugaku vol. 63, ). These articles can be consulted in Kindai Nihon Kyōiku Seido Shiryō vol. 23, Tokyo, Kōdansha, EUROMENTOR JOURNAL 139 2. Education for Democracy and Takekurabe In the first act of the school-play Takekurabe, after the conversation between Midori and the brush-maker s wife, Shōtarō appears, and apologizes for the fight that took place in his absence at the Senzoku Shrine. This episode is described in chapter 6 in the original. The second act includes the contents of chapters 12 and 13 in the original, that is, the episode where Shin nyo s geta strap breaks right in front of Midori s house. The narrator s explanation from Ichiyō s novel is left out, but otherwise the play follows the story in the novel quite closely, focusing on the protagonists feelings: Midori wants to help Shin n
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