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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #246: September 4, 2006

Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies

Journal Name: Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies: July, 2006, Vol.18, No.2
Print ISSN: 0955-5803, Online ISSN: 1469-932X


Warrior noh: Konparu Zenpō and the ritual performance of shura plays (pp167-183)
Eric C. Rath (History Department, University of Kansas)
Although only some 6 per cent of the noh plays in the modern repertoire are shura plays, pieces that feature the ghosts of suffering warriors, these works are synonymous with 'warrior noh', and as a group they form one of the five main categories of plays. Prior studies have looked to the theoretical writings of noh's founder, Zeami (d. 1443), to explain why shura plays, though few in number, have come to represent the genre of warrior plays. However, this article contends that the theories of the actor and playwright Konparu Zenpō (14541532?) offer more persuasive reasons why shura plays became equated with warrior noh. The article contrasts Zenpō's and Zeami's different definitions of the warrior archetype called the 'marital mode' (guntai). It then considers performance practices in the sixteenth century, specifically the ritual use of shura plays, to discern factors that impinged on their performance and composition. Finally, it places Zenpō's ideas on shura noh and the performance of these plays within a brief survey of late medieval theoretical writings on noh.

Keywords: traditional theater, noh, warrior plays, shuramono, Konparu Zenpō, Zeami Motokiyo

Hayashi Razan's redeployment of anti-Christian discourse: the fabrication of Haiyaso (pp185-206)
Kiri Paramore (Leiden University)
Haiyaso, a short text found in the collected works of the early Tokugawa Confucian Hayashi Razan (15831657), purports to be a record of a debate held in 1606 between Razan and the famous Japanese Jesuit scholastic Habian (15851621). The debate is presented in the text as a confrontation between Confucianism and Christianity. In the modern period, right up to the present, the text has been used prolifically to present 'a conflict between Western thought and East Asian intellectual systems' as one of the central stories of the intellectual history of early seventeenth-century Japan. In this sense, the text has been used to justify the imposition of fashionable modern dichotomies between 'East and West' and 'rational and religious' onto the intellectual history of Tokugawa Japan. This outlook has been supported by an inaccurate representation of Habian's Jesuit period treatise Myōtei mondō as some kind of 'introduction to Western thought'. In fact, Myōtei mondō is a much more complex work which, among other things, shows the clear influence of Confucian and Neo-Confucian humanism.
This article goes back to the extant source documents of indigenous Japanese Jesuit thought, and the attacks on it in the early seventeenth century. Through examining the ideas of Habian in contrast with other Japanese and Chinese Jesuit texts, and by analysing the context within which Haiyaso sits in Hayashi Razan's collected documents, the paper demonstrates that Haiyaso was a fabrication, in the sense that it is a work of propaganda probably written well after Habian's death, and imputing to Habian views that he clearly did not hold.

Keywords: Tokugawa Confucianism, Kirishitan thought, Christianity in Japan, early modern intellectual history, comparative philosophy

History in multiplicity: locating de Certeau's 'strategy' and 'tactics' in early postwar Japan (pp207-228)
Curtis Anderson Gayle (Leiden University)
In early postwar Japan Marxian historians like Ishimoda Shō and Inoue Kiyoshi utilized history in order to help create the cultural conditions for a socialist revolution. Ordinary Japanese women were important to this project and to Marxian campaigns for social change among the working class during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Local women's history-writing groups such as the Ehime Women's History Circle were, conversely, inspired by these historians and shared with them the belief that history writing could become a 'revolutionary praxis' to change Japanese society. This article will discuss how, while influenced by Marxian positions on history, the Ehime group nevertheless sought to devise 'tactics' by which to distance itself from the larger 'strategies' represented by professional historians and institutions. In this respect, the relationship between Marxian approaches and the Ehime Circle reminds us of what Michel de Certeau has, more generally, called 'tactics' that both utilize and distinguish themselves from larger institutions and discourses.

Keywords: Ehime Women's History Circle, history-writing, revolutionary praxis, Ishimoda Shō, Inoue Kiyoshi, Movement for a People's History

The habit of a lifetime? Japanese and British university students' attitudes to permanent employment (pp229-254)
Peter Matanle (School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield)
This article presents an analysis from a social constructionist perspective of data collected from British and Japanese university students on the desirability of lifetime employment at a single organization. The article emphasizes two related processes and in so doing helps to account for the diversity of employment structures both between and within the two countries as well as the persistence of lifetime employment in Japan. First, it shows that the two groups display some similarities in their attitudes but that their assumptions about employment practices in their countries may differ. These lead the two groups to develop the belief that they may be offered different outcomes and, thus, the students develop different conclusions as to the desirability of lifetime employment for themselves. Second, the research shows some differences in the students' approaches and these too lead them to reach different conclusions about the desirability of lifelong employment. In addition, the research highlights how, in both Britain and Japan, medical students' expectations are at times at odds with those of their colleagues in other subjects, and this may have important consequences for our understanding of how the respective employment systems are reproduced over time.

Keywords: lifetime employment, permanent employment, attitudes, values, university students, social constructionism

Using the paradigm of 'small cultures' to explain policy failure in the case of foreign language education in Japan (pp255-274)
Robert W. Aspinall (Department of Social Systems, Shiga University)
Despite success in many areas of education policy, the Japanese education system has been criticized at home and abroad for poor levels of communicative foreign language teaching. There has been a consensus on the need to improve performance in English teaching in particular among actors in the policy-making process. There has also been a considerable demand for private English language classes throughout Japan for some time. Focusing on government efforts to improve English language teaching since the mid-1980s, this article proposes that obstacles to the improvement of foreign language teaching can best be understood through an analysis of the social norms, values and expectations relating to teaching and learning that permeate school and university classrooms in Japan. The paradigm of 'small cultures' (Holliday 1999) is used in order to show how common characteristics of the learning environment in Japan influence the interactions of groups of learners and teachers in ways that inhibit effective communicative foreign language teaching practice.

Keywords: education policy, English as a foreign language (EFL), small cultures, immobilism, high schools, universities

Japan Forum (2006)
Copyright ©2006 BAJS

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Posted with permission from the publisher.

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