Ascj 2006 [abstracts]



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Organizer: Wakako Kusumoto, Shibusawa Ei’ichi Memorial Foundation

Chair: Alan Christy, University of California, Santa Cruz
This panel seeks to assess the intersection between intellectual work and its material conditions of production by reflecting on the career of Shibusawa Keizō (1896-1963), grandson of Shibusawa Eiichi, head of the Shibusawa Zaibatsu, Finance Minister right after WWII, patron of research associations and researchers and amateur scholar. When Heibonsha published the Collected Works of Shibusawa Keizō in 1992, it proclaimed him one of “the three giants of Japanese ethnography.” But outside a circle of insiders, Shibusawa’s role in the development of a number of scholarly fields and research institutions remains largely unknown. At best, he is often seen as “merely” a financial backer.

The members of this panel argue that a reappraisal of his work is necessary. As both a scholar and a patron, Shibusawa combined provocative intellectual experimentation with broad efforts to create the proper material grounds for research in modern Japan. An evaluation of Shibusawa’s place in the production of knowledge in modern Japan must be able to take account of the impact of both of these dimensions of his “academic imaginary.” A key to understanding how he bridged these two areas can be found in his commitment to intellectual experimentation unbound by disciplinarity and the long-term future of scholarship. With scholars such as Miyamoto Tsuneichi, Nakane Chie and Amino Yoshihiko acknowledging their debts to him, and institutions such as the National Museum of Ethnography finding their origins in his proposals and collections, a reconsideration of Shibusawa Keizō’s approach to knowledge production offers us an opportunity to reimagine the landscape of social science in modern Japan.


1) Noriko Aso, University of California, Santa Cruz

Shibusawa Keizō’s Folk Capitalism

In this paper, I examine Shibusawa Keizō’s 1937 vision of a “folk” museum of capitalism. While the “Shibusawa Memorial Museum of Commerce” was never realized as a permanent institution, Shibusawa’s plans and collection reveal productive tensions in his attempt to illuminate, or discipline, capitalism through a populist glimpse into the recent Japanese past.

Head of a fabled financial empire and government minister, Shibusawa Keizō was in private the patron saint of a network of folk ethnographical scholars in the early twentieth century. In this capacity, he established what would become the Institute of Japanese History and Folklore and oversaw the collection that formed the nucleus of the National Museum of Ethnology. Shibusawa also sought to establish a museum of commerce in honor of his illustrious grandfather, Shibusawa Eiichi, the so-called “father of Japanese capitalism.” Yet as a tribute to the dynamism of trade and Eiichi, the proposed museum was curiously historically oriented. Aside from Eiichi’s personal effects, the collection consisted of materials depicting the working culture of Edo period tradesmen: Eiichi was to be contextualized in terms of his commoner “roots” rather than celebrated for his modernizing achievements.

In effect, Shibusawa sought to bring his elite public world under the sign of his private enthusiasm for the folk. While his museum would have provided a native foundation for capitalism, anticipating the postwar reconfiguration of the Edo period as “early” rather than “pre-” modern, it would have also opened up alternative discursive possibilities by introducing actors and activities that potentially challenged a “progressive” narrative of capitalism within Japan.


2) Kenji Sato, University of Tokyo

Thinking of Images/Thinking Through Images: Shibusawa Keizō’s Ebiki Project

In a short but intriguing essay called “Is a Pictorial Dictionary Possible?” (1954), Shibusawa Keizô proposed the production of an image database/index that is suggestive for the study of culture today. Deriving from his interests in material culture, the ebiki project attempted to harness elements of premodern Japanese picture scrolls that provided “unintended” resources for a historical ethnology of Japanese culture. By considering the practical processes of production—in both its aborted prewar phase and its successful postwar phase—and the methodological stakes of the project, I offer a consideration of the lessons for the contemporary study of culture.

At its core, the project raised questions about the identification, extraction, relationality and accumulation of cultural resources as objects of investigation. The attempt to suture object-images to their historical names relied upon multiple technologies as well as the accumulated knowledge of the research team. Evaluating the production of the pictorial dictionary alerts us to the crucial roles of the material conditions of academic work. Perhaps more importantly, we can recognize in the thirty-year emergence of the Nihon jōmin seikatsu ebiki a model of an experimental orientation to humanistic research that enhances the opportunity for generating new questions and surprising conjunctures.
3) Kayoko Fujita, Osaka University

A Passage to St. Louis: The Shibusawa Keizō Collection for the Museum of Commerce and the Exhibition “Different Lands / Shared Experiences”

After more than sixty years since Shibusawa Keizō envisioned a design for the Nihon Jitsugyo-shi Hakubutsukan or the “Museum of Commerce”, a small exhibition was held in St. Louis, Missouri, the “gateway” city to the American West around the end of the 18th century. This exhibition, “Different Lands/Shared Experiences: The Emergence of Industrial Society in Japan and the United States” (held at the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri, from 4 September to 2 October, 2004), was the first-ever project to take up the artifacts that Keizō had collected and preserved for the next generation while waves of modernisation and technological developments were sweeping Japan.

The primary objective of this presentation is to reconstruct the course through which the exhibition in St. Louis and its counterpart, which is due to be held at the Shibusawa Memorial Museum in Tokyo in fall 2005, were realised after the “discovery” of Keizō’s forgotten collection at the National Institute of Japanese Literature. It also aims at analysing how American and Japanese librarians and museum curators visualise Keizō’s concepts through the exhibits from two different historical and cultural contexts, and how museum visitors perceive the historical narratives that have been constructed at the exhibitions. Through a series of interviews with the library and museum personnel involved in the exhibition-making process, as well as questionnaires to museum visitors, we will see how the accumulated knowledge in Keizō’s collection leads us towards a new comprehension of the structural change that our societies went through.
4) Wakako Kusumoto, Shibusawa Ei’ichi Memorial Foundation

Looking for Shibusawa Keizō: An Exploration of the Junctions (or Discontinuities) among Anthropology, Folklore, and the Studies of Japan

Shibusawa Keizō (1896–1963), former president of the Bank of Japan, Finance Minister, and family successor to his renowned grandfather, Shibusawa Eiichi, also had a substantial career in academe. Driving force behind the formation of Japanese folklore (minzokugaku) and anthropology, Shibusawa guided and financially supported a number of intellectual endeavors. Interestingly, however, Shibusawa’s academic achievement has not been as recognized as that of the other minzokugaku giant, Yanagita Kunio. This has led several Japanese writers to characterize him as “forgotten.”

Shibusawa’s academic reputation is even more obscure abroad. During my training in cultural anthropology in the US, I rarely met American anthropologists specializing in Japan who knew of Shibusawa Keizō. This was a surprise, as I had imagined folklore and anthropology to be close cousins. Soon I realized that the bulk of ethnographic works by Japanese folklorists―many of whom were apprenticed and/or supported by Shibusawa―seemed mostly overlooked by the academic community outside of Japan.

In order to examine what is causing the curious obscurity of Shibusawa Keizō, a man who was so prolific and generous in his effort to build scholarship, we need to situate him in the historical dynamics of cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary academic discourse. Is it the burden of language, the clash of disciplinary identities, or some unknown larger forces that have prevented him from being a household name, both in Japan and abroad? When we explore answers to this question, we may encounter new possibilities of border-crossing scholarship.


Discussant: Alan Christy, University of California, Santa Cruz
Session 5: Poets, Audience, and Court Spectacle: Facets of the Fujiwara Patronage of Poetry in Late Tenth Century Waka

Organizer/Chair: Gian Piero Persiani, Columbia University

The political and literary scene of the late tenth century was dominated by the Ononomiya and Kujō branches of the sekkan family. Besides providing imperial consorts and running court politics, the Regent’s family also sponsored or presided over the key cultural events of the time, acting as both patrons and main audience of literary activity. The panel explores a range of different issues related to the Fujiwara patronage of poetry spanning across three major poetic subgenres of the period: zōtōka (poem exchanges), byōbu uta (screen poems), and uta-awase (poetry matches).

Katsushige Monzawa begins by discussing how the consciousness of a probable target readership, the relatively circumscribed group formed by Kujō Morosuke’s family and in-laws, influenced the making of the poetry in the Tōnomine Shōshō monogatari (ca. 962).

The audience and its more or less explicit responses to poetry is also the theme of Persiani’s paper. Through an examination of the almost contemporaneous Poetry Match of Tentoku 4 (960), judged by Morosuke’s brother Saneyori, the paper argues that the staging of such elaborate court spectacles amounted to instituting a specialized venue where appointed experts were called to state their views on legitimate composition.

In the third and final paper, Joseph Sorensen offers a reading of another major cultural happening of the time: the screen poeåm event hosted by Michinaga in Chōhō 1 (999), in occasion of the court entrance (judai) of his daughter, the future imperial consort Shōshi. This event, Sorensen argues, while revelatory of Michinaga’s cultural politics, provides fertile ground to explore the link between patronage and verse making.

Discussion will be led by Janine Beichman, poetry specialist and translator.


1) Katsushige Monzawa, Waseda University

Reconstructing the Target Readership of the Tōnomine Shōshō Monogatari

Fujiwara Morosuke, the foremost political authority of the mid-tenth century died in 960. A year after, his son Takamitsu took holy vows. The sudden retirement of a blooming aristocrat with high career promise could not fail to make a sensation at court, beginning with Emperor Murakami.

Takamitsu’s gesture and his family’s reactions to it provide the subject matter to The Tale of the Lesser Captain Tōnomine (Tōnomine shōshō monogatari, ca. 962), a medium length narrative combining prose and poetry (particularly zōtōka exchanges) in the fashion in vogue at the time. Due to his arguably monotonous content and his at times obscure language, however, the work does not enjoy a particularly high reputation among critics. However, from the very beginning the work clearly establishes its target readership, giving the impression of having been created to win the favor of a specific audience with which the author shared a common background and an awareness of the current political situation.

By focusing primarily on the work’s poetry, the paper examines the textual evidence whereby the Kujō line of the Northern Fujiwara can be reasonably assumed to be the main target of the work, a suitably unostentatious yet encumbering presence that informs many aspects of the work, from the choice of words in the poems, to the often partial renditions of contemporary events.


2) Gian Piero Persiani, Columbia University

Instituting Poetic Authority: Saneyori and The Tentoku 4 Poetry Match

The staging of poetry matches (uta-awase) was part of the larger waka boom that swept the Heian court as of the late ninth century. While ostensibly a literary variant of sport competitions such as sumo and archery, these elaborate court spectacles also spurred the earliest examples of written poetic criticism. With poetry matches, a new institutional space was established for producing and circulating authoritative statements about the nature of waka and successful composition. In this respect, the Heian uta-awase can be assimilated to today’s literary awards and other kindred institutions which contribute to determine what is read and written.

My paper examines the Poetry Match of Tentoku 4 (Tentoku 4-nen dairi uta-awase) hosted by Emperor Murakami in 960, and widely regarded as the quintessential example of the courtly awase. Appointed to judge was Fujiwara no Saneyori, an experienced poet as well as the highest authority in the ritsuryō bureaucracy. I begin by surveying available evidence of Saneyori’s status as an expert of poetry, and then discuss the evaluation criteria he upheld in the verdicts, attempting to reconstruct something resembling a late tenth century “standard” of proper waka composition.

Such standards, as critics have known since Schücking’s seminal Sociology of Literary Taste, change over time. I conclude my talk by reviewing how Saneyori’s judgments were discussed and often criticized in late Heian and medieval waka scholarship, testifying to the inherent historicity of taste.


3) Joseph T. Sorensen, University of California, Davis
Screen Poetry and Ceremonial Observance at the Heian Court

Screen poems (byōbu uta) from the Heian period (794-1185) are best understood as extant records of temporal events where poets composed, presented, and inscribed verses inspired by painted images on screens. Birthday celebrations, accession ceremonies, and congratulatory verses at Great Thanksgiving Feasts (daijōe) are but a few of the common occasions where screen poetry was produced. The fact remains, however, that very little is known about how the poems were composed, partly because so few screens from the period survive.

My paper is an attempt to reconstruct some of the compositional practices by focusing on the genre of judai waka, poems composed upon the designation of a new imperial consort. For a few of these events, historical records supplement the poetry to give a fuller picture of the process of commissioning, assigning, sponsoring, producing, and presenting at such events. When, for example, Fujiwara no Michinaga (966–1027) ordered a set of painted screens for the court entrance of his daughter Jōtōmon’in Shōshi (in whose literary salon The Tale of Genji would be written), it marked the first time a non-imperial court noble sponsored a judai waka ceremony. The varied perspectives found in such contemporaneous sources as Michinaga’s diary Midō kanpakuki, the Gonki of Fujiwara no Yukinari (927–1027), the Shōyūki of Fujiwara no Sanesuke (957­–1046), and the historical narrative Eiga monogatari, reveal the key role played by screen poetry in the participants’ political and aesthetic maneuvering at court, as well as the considerable artistic impression the event made in its day.
Discussant: Janine Beichman, Daito Bunka University
Session 6: Individual Papers on Japanese Literature and Art

Chair: Kate Wildman Nakai, Sophia University



1) Mari Nagase, University of British Columbia

Shusse for an Edo-Period Woman Kanshi Poet, Hara Saihin

Hara Michi, or Saihin (1798–1859), was among a few women recognized as kanshi poets during the late Edo period. Living in a period when gender discrimination was rather strict, she aspired to succeed in society, transgressing the bounds of normative womanhood.

Saihin was born into the family of a respected official Confucian scholar of the Akizuki domain in present Fukuoka prefecture. She was educated in Chinese literature from childhood and excelled in the study. When the Hara family was faced with the crisis of losing their prestige as an official scholar family, Saihin, and her father, resolved that she should inherit and extend the family scholarship. In the beginning of 1825, Saihin left for Edo at the age of twenty-eight in order to establish herself as a private scholar and poet. She worked independently in the city for twenty years and eventually succeeded in attaining considerable fame.

In order to achieve “shusse,” or social success, in a field dominated by men, Saihin attempted to assimilate herself into the world of the male literati. She not only impressed the public with her masculine behavior, she often represented herself as a manly character in her literary works. In my presentation, while discussing the impact of the idea of “shusse,” which motivated and distressed her throughout her life, I will examine the self-presentation in her poetic works focusing especially on her gender identifications.


2) Rachel Payne, University of Canterbury

Censorship of Kabuki in the Early Meiji Era

Throughout its early history Kabuki struggled under bakufu regulations to curb its perceived immoral influence on society. This policy changed after the Meiji Restoration, when the new regime, inspired by Western concepts of theatre as an integral part of civilized society, embraced Kabuki’s potential as a morally didactic and educational entertainment. This paper investigates the historical and ideological background to the early Meiji censorship codes that sought to replace vulgar and historically anachronistic elements of the traditional Kabuki performance with wholesome tales of honour and valour. It also examines the official efforts to extend this censorial approach beyond textual matters so as to inject the prevailing bunmei kaika ideology into aspects as diverse as the theatres’ architectural specifications and actors’ private lives. It is often thought that official interest in controlling Kabuki faded after the mid 1870s. I will argue that politicians turned their attention from public censorship of all Kabuki theatres, and instead engaged in private encouragement of individual reform experiments at Tokyo’s leading theatre, the Shintomi-za.


3) Seth Jacobowitz, Cornell University

Intermediary Genres of Meiji Art: The Photographic Paintings of Ochiai Yoshiiku and Yokoyama Matsusaburō

While Impressionism in nineteenth century Europe is often ascribed to the encounter with photography and Japanese woodblock prints, a parallel revolution was underway in Japan as photography and European oil painting became dual, and frequently intertwined, modes of visual representation. This paper explores how intermedial concepts and genres arose in early Meiji visual culture, and decisively contributed to ideas about mimeticism, as well as the recording of national and personal memory.

In keeping with recent work by Kinoshita Naoyuki, Satō Dōshin and others, I observe how the discourse of “shashin” in mid-nineteenth century Japan shifted from capturing the essence of things in painting and woodblock prints to become the preferred translation for photography. This gradual shift is notably reflected in the genres of silhouette paintings (kage-e) and pseudo-photographic portraits of kabuki actors (haiyū shashinkyō) popularly associated with Ochiai Yoshiiku. I will briefly discuss how these works critically negotiate between materiality and memory, presence and representation. The paper concludes with a close reading of Yokoyama Matsusaburō’s stunning collage “Chomage no otoko to gaikokujin” (c. 1880s). In this trompe d’oeil painting, a bearded foreigner surrounded by the accoutrements of painting points to a photograph of a samurai with the picture frame drawing a line across his hands, thereby placing them within the interior composition. Inspired by a photograph of the same two subjects sitting side-by-side from the 1872 Iwakura Mission, it plays on multiple levels of ethnographic framing and media capture: shifting levels of authority for representing the image and authenticity of the image itself.
4) Joan Ericson, Colorado College

The Return of Momotarō: Revisiting Tales for Children

From the 1890s, Japanese publications for children included a high percentage of literary tales that were adaptations of Chinese and Western children stories, in addition to revisions of Japanese folk tales. In particular, the Momotarō (Peach Boy) tale stands out both for its reflection of and parody of contemporary political events. This paper analyzes the reworkings of selected versions of the Momotarō tale, which has been refashioned in print almost six hundred times and translated into English beginning in 1885 as emblematic of Japanese cultural tradition. I will focus on two periods or approaches to this iconic tale: those early efforts associated with (or in opposition to) the Ken’yūsha (Inkwell Society), from 1891–1904, and then from the late 1910s, in the retellings that invoked, or opposed, aspects of militarism. An analysis of versions of the tale such as Oni Momotarō (Ogre Momotaro, 1891), by the famous Ken’yūsha writer Ozaki Kōyō (1867–1903), Seiro saisei Momotaro (Momotaro reclaims, conquers Russia, 1905), Onigashima nidome no seibatsu (The Second Conquest of Ogre Island, 1920), and Momotarō no imōto (Momotaro’s Younger Sister, 1920) shows the contrast in attitudes toward heroic military adventures that appeared in reference to Japan’s conquest of former German colonies in China’s Shantong peninsula and foreshadowed alternate approaches to militarism and to childhood-as-a-critique (of contemporary society) that persisted through the 1930s.


5) James Dorsey, Dartmouth College

Japan’s Postwar “Holy War”: The Inquiry into Literature’s Contribution to the War Effort

In early 1946 Japan was heeding former Prime Minister Higashikuni’s call for a “collective repentance of the hundred million.” Literary critic Odagiri Hideo, however, objected: “claiming that responsibility is shared by each and every one of us obscures the fact that some of us bear a greater, more direct responsibility.” He then boldly named twenty-five writers with precisely such “direct responsibility,” a list that included such luminaries as Kobayashi Hideo, Yokomitsu Riichi, Satō Haruo, and Mushanokoji Saneatsu. Joining Odagiri in his battle to rehabilitate literature and make it fit for a liberal, democratic, postwar Japan were Hirano Ken, Sasaki Kiichi, Ara Masato, and other critics influential in the following years. Curiously, the vitriolic accusations these men leveled at writers complicit with the wartime regime are infused with religious language: cooperative writers were “blasphemers of literature,” they were “just like Judas, who betrayed Christ for just thirty pieces of silver.” The discourse also displays an obsession with literary “purity,” a conviction that fiction and criticism can and should cleanse themselves of any ideological taint. As such the quest echoes themes from the “conversion” (tenkō) movement of the 1930s as well as from wartime propaganda. In this corner of the literary world, then, the “holy war” continued. An analysis of the conception of literature in 1946, a crucial juncture in Japan’s modern cultural and social history, explains certain postwar critical trends as well as suggests more nuanced paradigms for investigating the relationship of literature, culture, and ideology in a time of war.


Session 7: “Japaneseness” in Transwar Japan: Assimilation and Elimination

Organizer/Chair: Yu Kishi, International Christian University

This panel takes up the issue of “Japaneseness” in modern Japanese culture, particularly during the transwar period between the 1920s and 1950s. “Japaneseness” is not monolithic, nor is it something historically or spatially defined; rather the concept is flexible and subject to constant change. The qualities that describe “Japan” in cultural, social, political, and even economic spheres, those assumptions on the very definition of “Japan” and “Japanese culture,” are historical constructions. The four panel members will discuss the diversity of Japaneseness in modern Japan from various different points of view. Shiro Yoshioka examines the anime genius Miyazaki Hayao and his view of Japan as a composite culture; for Miyazaki, the qualities of “Japaneseness” depended upon the assimilation of cultural elements from Asia and the West. Yu Kishi takes up the assimilation of different versions of Japanese tradition in debates over “Japaneseness” in modern Japanese architecture, focusing on the work of Kenzō Tange, an architect active during the transwar period. Miyuki Morita discusses the attempt to eliminate aspects of “Japaneseness” in Okinawa under American military control in the immediate postwar period. She examines school textbooks used in Okinawa during the late 1940s and early 1950s that first sought to divest Okinawa of Japanese identity and later restore Okinawa’s “Japaneseness.” Finally, Yuji Kawazoe takes up issues of “Japaneseness” as applied to colonial Taiwan, looking both at attempts to foster and resist its assimilation.

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