The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, October 9 - 10, 2015
Panel and Presentation Abstracts, listed by panel
Theorizing Sensory Experiences in Edo Period Japan - Treatises in Martial Arts, Theater and Incense Ceremony
Chaired by Kiyoko Morita, Tufts University
One of the most conspicuous differences between cultures lies in the differing conceptualization of the senses. Society imprints the necessary sensory sensibility for the everyday on a subconscious level, but different modes of sensual perception also become particularly pinpointed, namely in the arts. Here, the ways of experience, the sophistication and the use of the senses turn into subjects of explicit reflection. Alongside the rich artistic traditions, in Edo period Japan a complex system for teaching artistic practices evolved, within which written treatises played an important role especially for the transmission of sensory conceptions.
The aim of this panel is to take a closer look at these treatises and to show, what perspectives on the senses developed and what kind of sensory experience was desired. In doing so, it shall be made clear how they allow a view on the sensory sensibility in the Japanese culture in general. The papers of this panel attend to different arts and how sensory experience in different parts of society unfolded. The first paper deals with the field of martial arts and the performance of sensual attentiveness in concentrated training. The second paper takes a closer look at the treatises of the theater and illuminates the sensory demands not just for the professional actor, but the audience as well. By looking at the incense ceremony in the final paper, the focus shifts to the non- professional artistic activities and the question how aesthetic practice reflects and generates sensory imagination. By looking at the different treatises it is possible to reach a broad perspective on the sensory sensibilities in Japan.
Andreas Niehaus (Ghent University)
“Miwataseba” – Sensual Attentiveness in Early Modern bugei treatises
The Edo period witnessed a radical change in the organizational structure, spiritual teaching and inventory of techniques within the military disciplines (bugei). At the end of the Warring State period, different school (ryûha) developed throughout the country and with this diversification and specification came along the need to systemize and codify the schools’ teachings. The primary transmission of knowledge was based on practical exercises and immediate experience of techniques in the form of kata, yet written texts increasingly completed the training process. It is characteristic for these treatises that they – in general - didn’t give detailed instructions of how certain techniques should be executed, but rather aimed at transmitting the spiritual and philosophical teachings of a ryûha. The manuals certainly have to be interpreted within a broader social and political movement that promoted self-cultivation and self-control, but it is important to stress that they nonetheless aimed at improving fighting skills. As such bugei treatises refer to a certain state of sensual attentiveness in an attempt to close the gap between theory and practice. But how can a state of mind be transmitted that has to be felt rather than logically comprehended? By focussing on poems in bugei texts I will show how sensual attentiveness is voiced, imagined and (hopefully) achieved.
Andreas Regelsberger (Trier University)
Conveying emotions through sound: How to perform puppet theatre in Early Modern Japan
Being in control of the audience’s sensory experience is crucial for the success of any theatrical genre. How to effectively arouse emotions and create a reproducible atmosphere can be key to survival for an artist and his style or school. Once, Edo period puppet theater (ningyô jôruri) emerged as a popular art form for the masses, these questions were addressed on various levels of reasoning in treatises: for a playwright it was necessary to know how to write a successful play, a chanter, musician or puppeteer needed to know how to perform well in front of an audience and in turn the audience would react in form of theater reviews (ayatsuri hyôban) on the show and (mainly) the chanter’s performance. This paper asks how sensory experience was expressed in both, teaching and criticism. How did these sources refer to other aesthetic writings such as Zeami’s nô treatises or texts on poetry? What rhetorical devices did they employ? Which emotions should be conveyed and how? What kind of strategy and what vocabulary was used to express the audience’s emotional reactions? In looking at how the various levels of reflection were put to use I want to discuss what was the basis for the audience’s sensory experience.
Benedikt Vogel (Trier University)
Scenting as Performance - Aesthetics of aroma and sensory imagination in the Incense Ceremony
The Incense Ceremony is one of Japans traditional arts, whose roots reach back to the Asuka period. While the early court enjoyed fragrance and incense in a playful manner, it evolved during the middle ages into a complex ceremony. The moment of olfactory perception was turned into a strict ritual, which combined performative as well as ornamental constituents. The events weren’t tied to religious or political agendas. With exclusive focus on aesthetic appreciation they mark the emergence of a new type of activity. Multiple connections to other cultural phenomenons (e.g. performances, ornaments etc.), however, create a frame of meaning. Hence it is possible to see these events as a culmination of the cognitive and performative sphere of imagination, that constitutes society. This paper delineates the complex structure of these events and explains how aesthetic appreciation unfolded in Edo period Japan (1603-1868). By looking at Edo period treatises on Incense Ceremony it becomes clear, that the aesthetic experience in these gatherings arises not only from the olfactory stimuli and its reflection through language, but also from the interrelations of visual, haptic and kinesthetic sensations. This multisensory perception then becomes the key element in the creation of an imaginative sphere. Furthermore, the cognitive processes of this performance are to be considered as factors. Literary, poetic, religious, and historical images and concepts create an associative background, which itself generates mainly emotional reactions and therefore underlines the sensory and aesthetic character of the events.
Panel 2: Senses in Modern Literature
Chaired by Makoto Hayashi, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Miho Tajima, Josai International University
視覚からの逃避と視覚への逃避：水村美苗『私小説 from left to right』における美 苗の主体性構築 水村美苗の自伝的小説『私小説from left to right』（1995年。以下 『私小説』と略記）における主人公美苗の主体性の構築に大きく影響する視覚の 問題について考察したい。美苗の日本語の書き言葉偏愛は、美苗がアメリカに移 住してのち抱くようになった人種的劣等感と表裏をなしている。『私小説』の中 心テーマに、美苗が抱く「白人」に対する劣等感と、美苗自身に内面化された「 白人」崇拝がある。作品全編にわたってアメリカの豊かさと日本の貧弱さが強調 され、前者は光にみちあふれ、後者は黒い影として描かれる。いくら英語が堪能 であってもそれを「正統的に継承することができない」という美苗の屈折した思 いは、自分がアメリカ社会に同化できない「東洋人」であることに起因するのだ が、それは話し言葉が必然的に話者を可視化するからである。美苗は書き言葉の かげに隠れることによって「白人」に強要された人種のカテゴリーから解放され ようとするのである。美苗は視覚によって判断されることに強迫観念を抱くが、 同時に日本語の<文字>という視覚表象に救いを求めている。『私小説』に看取 される豊富な言語資源の活用や多彩な言語表記が作品に重層的な効果をもたらし 、視覚の作用が主人公の主体性構築にいかに寄与するかを検証したい。
Thomas Garcin, IETT, Lyon 3 University
From Synesthesia to Simulacrum: Japaneseness as a Sensory Experience and Forgery in Yûkoku and Sutâ (1961) by Mishima Yukio
The collection of short stories Sutâ was published by Mishima Yukio in January 1961. It includes the eponymous story Sutâ (Star), Yûkoku (Patriotism) and Hyakuman’en senbei (Three Million Yen). Of these three stories, Yûkoku is without doubt the most renowned. The text introduces a stereotypical and idealistic image of a couple devoted to death and love. Mishima emphasizes the Japaneseness of his characters and of their ultimate experience, toying with literary references and clichés associated with Japanese aesthetics (kigo, rituality, double suicide, chiaroscuro, etc.). In the first part of my presentation, I will show the extent to which the author exploits, in Yûkoku, poetic effects like synesthesia and mitate redolent of Japanese ancient poetry, creating a sensory experience unconnected with the real world. However this Japaneseness is also an extremely artificial one. The sensory poetic experience of Yûkoku could notably evoke the concept of “invented tradition”: by mixing different genres borrowed from different periods of time Mishima creates a counterfeit and dehistoricized tradition. Interestingly, the themes of simulacrum and fakeness is preeminent in the collection of short stories in which Yûkoku was first published. As noted by some critics, the short story Sutâ is laden with these themes. In the second part of my presentation, I will draw parallels between Sutâ and Yûkoku, and show how the reading of Sutâ can influence our reading of Yûkoku. Seeing Mishima’s famous short story as an illustration of the purest Japanese tradition or as a Baudrillard-like simulacrum does indeed make a difference, and certainly not to the detriment of the text.
Guohe Zheng, Ball State University
Dazai Osamu’s Sense and Sensibility
Though he died 67 years ago, Dalai Osamu (1909-1948) still has a cult-like following in Japan as an outcast, a heavy-drinking whoremonger, a drug addict, a repeated partner in “love suicide," but above all the writer who wrote about it all. In the West, Dazai is known mainly as a decadent writer “lacking in political reliability or even citizenly virtues.” The image of Dazai in such a reception is hardly relatable by most readers. This paper proposes a more relatable Dazai by examining his sense and sensibility. The paper first discuses Dazai’s sense by considering kiza (pretentious), a characteristic adjective used frequently by Dazai to describe the type of behavior or language that always leaves him in disgust. He uses the word to caution himself, measure people's sincerity, or portray negative characters. Conspicuously, he also uses it to protest against Japan's pompous literary establishment. Then, it analyzes “Tazunebito"(Looking for a Person, 1946), Dazai's little studied short story that best reveals his sensibility. Based on his grueling experience of evacuation from Tokyo to his hometown Tsugaru towards the end of the war, the story captures the poignancy of Dazai’s deep-felt emotions, a mixture of his gratitude towards people charitable to his family in dire straits and his hurt dignity as a human being reduced into a beggar. Finally, it argues that Daze’s sense and sensibility—his essential nature—make him relatable by the readers because pretentiousness is no virtue to anyone but a sense of gratitude and dignity is, to all.
Michiko Suzuki, Indiana University
Decoding the Visual Experience of Kimono in the Cinematic Representations of Sasameyuki (1950 and 1983)
Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s _Sasameyuki_ (The Makioka Sisters, 1943-48) is a “novel of manners” (fūzoku shōsetsu) depicting the lives of four sisters of a wealthy merchant family in Osaka during 1936-1941. Although the novel itself has very few descriptions of actual kimonos, in postwar cinematic remakes, the kimonos that these women wear come to the fore as a critical part of the visual reinterpretation and sensory experience of Tanizaki’s text. In this paper I will discuss what these kimonos are saying to the audience in the two film versions of Sasameyuki_, the 1950 version directed by Abe Yutaka and the 1983 version directed by Ichikawa Kon. The different ways the screenplays adapt the original story are visually enhanced by the use of kimonos as costume, props and even “characters” or “gloss” for the filmic narratives. Kimonos in both films provide visually sensual experiences but they function differently for the respective viewing audiences. The kimonos in the 1950 version highlight the complexity of gendered and national identity during the immediate postwar years, while the kimonos in the 1983 version celebrate the economic prosperity of “Japan Inc” and the exotic image of an “authentic” national culture.
Panel 3: The Post-colonial Sense Realm
Chaired by Wail Hassan, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Toshi Pau, Duke University
The Sublime SENSE(lessness)—La petite mort in Blood and Bones
Director Sai Yoichi’s film adaptation of Yan Sogiru’s novel Chi to Hone (Blood and Bones) has been a subject of intrigue and fascination in both realms of entertainment and academia. The Zainichi literary and cinematic production Chi to Hone uses the body in all of its sensory capacities in order to confront issues of powerlessness—the absence of power to control the body or identity. This paper engages in a close reading of Sai’s film and the ways in which it engages audiences in reflections of identity through both the presence and absence of senses. Taking as its starting point a discussion of the well- known French phrase la petite mort in both its literal and idiomatic connotations, this essay explores sex and death as interstices of sensory indulgence and deprivation—in other words, sublime sense and senselessness. Drawing on theorizations of sublimity, trauma, and death, I argue that Chi to Hone exemplifies and is driven by a vision of postwar impotence and conception of a senseless future.
Nobuko Yamasaki, Lehigh University Sensory
Experiences of the Empire via Ri Kōran
This paper, “Sensory Experiences of Ri Kôran,” explores the role that popular culture played in establishing and disseminating an ideal notion of the Japanese Empire, with a special focus on the role of the wartime idol, singer, and actress Ri Kôran (1920- 2014). “A beautiful woman who presents herself always as the other.” This is how Yomota Inuhiko, a film critic, portrayed Ri Kôran. She easily crossed boundaries of nationality, ethnicity, and language. In many films of the Manchuria Motion Picture Production and Distribution Company (Man’ei, 1937-45), she performed as a Chinese woman, who was perfectly fluent in both Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. She is known for her B-class melodramas in which a Chinese woman with strong anti-Japanese sentiments overcame those feelings by recognizing the “genuine” benevolence of a Japanese man. Falling in love with him, she developed pro-Japanese feelings that supported dreams of the Japanese Empire. By closely examining the films that Ri performed, the paper explores the ideological slogans that she was reinforcing, and at the same time, the paper considers her colonial legacy that continues to be reproduced and perpetuated not only by contemporary Japanese popular singers and idols, but also by their former colonial subjects, such as Taiwanese and Zainichi Korean musicians.
Yoshihiro Yasuhara, Carnegie Mellon University
Sensory Experiences Unbound: Ōshima Nagisa’s Poetics of Documentary
This paper analyzes Ōshima Nagisa’s first documentary The Forgotten Imperial Army (1963) as the epitome of the polemical mode prevalent in his feature films, which echo and develop the French New Wave’s “fused and contradictory devotions to documentary and fiction” (Richard Brody 2015), by staging layers of sensory experiences—experiences of 1) maimed Korean veterans who fought for Japan’s imperial army during World War Two, 2) the filmmaker, or the camera, as a sentient and thinking subjectivity, and 3) the viewers in postwar Japan who are confronted with the subjects of the documentary. Clearly calling attention to the plight of the veterans who struggle for their rights and better life in postwar Japan, however, the documentary cannot be merely reduced to the leftist protest accusing the Japanese government’s neglect, nor to the rightist justification of Japan’s postwar prosperity. Beyond any kind of ideological closure, Ōshima’s documentary rather brings forth his filmic fervor that resonates with François Truffaut’s interest in the “aspects of experience, life seen from the point of view of a passionate [protagonist] who was searching for something indefinable, a certain meaning or exhilaration or transcendence” (Mark Cousins, 272), in parallel with what Ōshima calls “poetry, or transcended logic” (超論理=詩) while leading the Japanese New Wave. In this light, I argue that Ōshima’s filmic poetry envisions aporia whereby he invites the viewers and himself to an ongoing dialogue about a lacuna in postwar Japan’s conformism in terms of human condition.
Juhee Lee, University of Tsukuba
On the Tip of His Tongue: Hail Kim’s Braille experiences described in his texts
Since the beginning of 20th century, the state management of Hansen’s disease (leprosy; HD) had been concerned as an issue of modernization of Japan. Eventually, the compulsory segregation policy was adopted from the early 1930s, in the middle of the colonial period. Thus it obvious that there were people doublemarginalized in terms of the ethnicity as well as of the disease they had. In this presentation, I will introduce Hail Kim(1926-), a Korean diaspora poet who started his literary activity from Kuryu Rakusen’en, a HD sanatorium in Gumma prefecture. Hail Kim, born in colonized Korea and then having moved to Tokyo in 1939, was diagnosed with HD and forced to live in sanatorium in 1941. About eight years after, he completely lost his sight due to the progression of the disease. Although he already lost the sense of fingertips, by using his tongue, he eventually acquired Japanese braille reading and expressed this painful experience into his works. In this way, he also could learn how to read Korean braille. Through the sense of the tongue, Kim could gain mother tongue literacy for the first time. By focusing on his texts and some articles by those who paid attention to him, I will argue the significance of Hail Kim’s literary activity as the testimonies of Japan’s colonial HD discrimination, and explore the symbolic meaning of his tongue reading as the counter sensory experiences against the health and visual supremacy of the modern society.
Panel 4: Physicality in Pre-modern Literature
Chaired by Elizabeth Oyler, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Sachi Schmidt-Hori, Dartmouth College
Overcoming Lookism: The Crossdressing of the Heroine in New Chamberlain
Humans tend to be preoccupied with visual information. This hegemony of sight over other senses creates human capital for attractive individuals while unattractive ones may be subject to discrimination known as “lookism.” In this vein, archetypal court tales of premodern Japan often treat a young lady’s physical beauty as her most prized asset, which she deploys to enchant a nobleman or the emperor, have his offspring, and bring prosperity to her family. A Muromachi short story, New Chamberlain (Shin-kurōdo; dates unknown), however, subverts this prescribed formula for women’s happiness. In this tale, two elder daughters of a low-ranking aristocrat choose two of the paths made available to the women of their class: becoming a nun and serving the emperor as a handmaiden, respectively. However, the third daughter rejects both paths. Instead, she dresses as a man, obtains a court rank of chamberlain, and unexpectedly captivates the emperor’s heart. Yet the story does not end here. After falling out of the emperor’s favor, she becomes a nun, and at last attains rebirth in the Pure Land. Although the heroine of New Chamberlain may be reminiscent of the two cross-dressing women in Torikaebaya and Ariake no wakare, the similarities are rather limited. To analyze the behaviors of the third daughter, I would like to employ lookism as a framework, based on the premise that a less-than-stunning but highly ambitious young woman would experience the world very differently from a beautiful and feminine lady, such as the second daughter.
Otilia Clara Milutin, University of British Columbia
“Sweat Pouring Forth Like Water”: Representations of the Violated Female Body in Heian Monogatari
This paper examines textual representations of rape in Heian period (794-1185) court tales (monogatari) written by aristocratic women serving at the imperial court and focuses primarily on the use of sweat imagery found in these tales, from The Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari, ca. 1008) to Nezame at Night (Yoru no nezame, ca.11th century). Based on extensive doctoral research on textual representations of sexual violence in the monogatari of the Heian and Kamakura (1185-1333) periods, this paper analyzes the only kind of textual representation in which the violated female body becomes visible in its powerful reaction to male aggression: profuse sweating. It argues that not only is the use of sweat imagery unusual in a literature ruled by courtly decorum, but that it also serves as one of the few means of visually revealing the Heian female body, which remains otherwise mostly unseen. Frequently represented only metonymically, through hair or garments, the bodies of monogatari heroines gain a physical dimension that sweat reveals in a manner both visual - describing a body wet, disheveled and often exposed - and tactile - presenting a body that is shivering and cold to the touch. Ultimately, by gaining a body, monogatari heroines also gain agency, for sweat not only helps inscribe their sexual victimization at the hands of men, but also their resistance, both physical and psychological, to male aggression.
Sijia Gao Harvard University
Olfactory Encounters and Perception of Scent in The Tale of Genji
The Tale of Genji is saturated with fragrance: the scent of blooming cherry blossoms and plum tree flowers; the perfumes in the robes of men and women, and in paper bearing letters of love and melancholy. The fragrance bewitches and haunts the human heart. The "exquisite odors" wafting from Tamakazura's room made Prince Hotaru believe that "she was even lovelier than he had imagined;" when Rokujō Haven failed to wash away the scent of poppy seed oil from her body, she "looked at herself in horror" and "sank into ever more disturbed state of mind." This paper considers the question of how scent could have such vivid and powerful impact on the characters by examining how scent and associated tropes are deployed within the text of The Tale of Genji. It points out that scent is perceived as having representational qualities that to a certain extent it replaces vision, and argues that the process of smelling, the inhaling of scent, is experienced as a bodily encounter and interaction between the person him/ herself and that which is represented. It then compares the sensory modality of smell expressed in the text of The Tale of Genji with that in Western philosophical tradition, in which olfactory experience is largely dismissed and neglected, and proposes that one’s psychological response towards olfactory experience, itself an imaginative process, and how one chooses to react upon experience and the literary imagination of smell are grounded in and shaped by the social and cultural backgrounds.
Panel 5: The Meanings of Sensory Experience
Chaired by Edie Sarra, Indian University
Pana D. Barova-Ozcan, Independent Scholar
Contrasting Color Images in the Sarashina Nikki and their Function in the Narrative Discourse
This paper examines the function and meaning of the colors black and white in the narrative discourse of the Sarashina nikki (The Sarashina diary, ca.1058), a female memoir (nikki) from the Heian period, by Takasue’s daughter (1008-1059). The two colors appear in numerous landscape descriptions. ‘Black’ is represented by the image of night in the memoir, where important events are all set at night. Reading monogatari (tales) and dreams – two central themes in the memoir, also happen at night. In addition, the night image creates an association with The Tale of Genji’s heroine Yūgao (‘evening faces’), admired by the protagonist. ‘White’ features in many descriptions of the moon, sand and snow. The moon, which has rich poetic, cultural and religious implications appears more often than in any other representative of the genre. Winter, associated with the whiteness of snow, is the predominant season in the memoir. The image of winter is inseparable with the frequent use of yamazato (mountain village), referring to the heroine from The Tale of Genji, Ukifune, admired by the protagonist. I will argue that the black/white contrast created by the two colors suggests an opposition between darkness/(moon)light, which is essential to understanding the memoir. As a result, the memoir, usually interpreted as a negative account of sorrow and loneliness, appears as having a strong undercurrent of hope and joy, suggested by the image of white (moonlight), and culminating with the ultimate promise of salvation in the dream of Amida (associated with the moon) at the end.
Joannah Peterson, Indiana University
Capturing the Light of the Moon: Representations of the Emperor in the Verbal and Visual Texts of Yoru no Nezame
In this paper I focus on representations of the emperor in the late eleventh century tale Yoru no Nezame (“Sleepless at Night”) and the oldest extant picture scroll illustrating this tale, The Nezame Scrolls (late-twelfth century). This paper will demonstrate how the emperor becomes “character-ized” in Yoru no Nezame, exploring the ways that the epistemological distance previously afforded imperial characters is eradicated as the emperor appears more like characters from the class of court nobles. I argue further that this characterization finds a visual counterpart in The Nezame Scrolls. The last painting of the scroll is unique in that it allows full disclosure of the emperor’s figure: no blinds or doors shield him from the viewer’s gaze. This full disclosure can be seen as a reflection of his treatment in the text, where the emperor’s interiority is freely probed by the narrator, thus breaking distancing conventions that would normally place him “above the clouds.” I suggest that the heightened visibility of the emperor in verbal and visual representations is in conversation with political changes that began in the late eleventh century, namely the blurred distinction between the emperor’s public and private personae as the imperial house sought to strengthen itself through the same channels utilized by other powerful aristocratic families – strong house organizations, extensive shōen holdings, and control over succession.
Stephen Miller, University of Massachusetts Amherst
The Buddhist Valorization of the Senses in Jakuzen’s “Hōmon hyakushu”
The kana preface to the Kokinshū (905) is nothing if not a prose paean to the senses, sensibility, and sensitivity. From the opening lines about seeds and leaves, seeing and hearing, to the rikugi (or six poetic principles) to the evaluations of Narihira’s excess of emotion or Komachi’s weak sentimentality, Tsurayuki seemed determined to emphasize the emotional heart over the rational mind. So what happened to this point of view when Japanese poets began to write poems on Buddhist themes? In the 12th century work, the Hōmon hyakushu (A Hundred Poems on the Dharma Gate), Jakuzen (1118-1120 to ca. 1182) constructs a mini-chokusenwakashū by dividing his 100 poems into ten categories—five of which are dedicated to the four seasons and to love. (Other categories include congratulatory poems, poems on separation, jukkai, impermanence, and miscellaneous poems.) In this paper, I want to analyze the tension between privileging/foregrounding (as waka do) and calming/critiquing (as Buddhism promotes) the senses in several spring poems. If the origin of song—uta—is found in our recognition and enjoyment of the “warbling of the mountain thrush” and the “voice of the frog in the water” (Rodd’s translation), what philosophical or rhetorical strategies does Jakuzen employ to subvert or to elucidate the relationship between the poet’s memorialization of sensitivity and the priest’s recognition that privileging the senses unconsciously or uncritically runs counter to the ultimate goals of Buddhist Dharma and practice?
Irena Hayter, University of Leeds
The Sensuousness of New Sensationism and Other Modernist Myths
The appearance of the journal Bungei jidai (Literary Age) amidst the urban and cultural changes following the 1923 earthquake had all the hallmarks of an avant-garde gesture. In its pages Yokomitsu Riichi, Kawabata Yasunari and Kataoka Teppei attacked naturalism in a language almost libidinally invested in the new. The literary establishment (bundan) reacted with outright hostility. The exception was the critic Chiba Kameo, who welcomed the youngsters to the fold and gave them a name, shinkankakuha (new sensationists). The heated exchanges between the Bungei jidai writers and their critics became preoccupied with attempts to define and philosophically anchor kankaku (sensation, sense impression, perception). This so-called “new sensationism debate” is often seen as a clash between the old bundan and the radical project of modernism. A close reading of the actual texts, however, reveals that despite their declared commitment to the new, the young writers are deeply anxious about the effects of capitalist- industrialized modernity on individual and collective experience. The senses make only a brief appearance in the debate and are figured negatively, as regression to the animalistic. Both the new sensationists and their critics conflate sensuousness and sexuality; the senses seem to represent dangerous, feminized excess. In the texts of Yokomitsu and Teppei, sensation is purged from the materiality of the body and reduced to the visual only, that most de-corporealized of the senses. I argue that this purified sensation connected easily with the vitalist and spiritualist currents to which Kawabata and Yokomitsu were drawn in the 1930s and 1940s.
Panel 6: Music and Sensory Culture
Chaired by Michael Bourdaghs, University of Chicago
Joshua Solomon, University of Chicago
Smelling Music: The “Unheard” Sounds of Takahashi Chikuzan
Takahashi Chikuzan was one of the most transformative figures of Tsugaru folk song during the interwar and postwar periods, and the first musician to record a solo album of what is commonly known today as "Tsugarujamisen." In addition to being a creative and passionate musician, Chikuzan was a prolific storyteller who left behind a substantial archive of texts concerning shamisen, folk song, and life as an itinerant musician. Visually impaired for the majority of his life, he rarely employed visual metaphor to articulate his musical aesthetic, instead referring to sound's "taste" and "smell"; what his producer Satō Sadaki calls the "unheard sounds" [kikoenai oto] of Chikuzan's music. He uses the olfactory metaphor in particular to judge a certain quality of musical authenticity; a quality which might be articulated as the performance's degree of "folkness." This paper attempts to parse the terms of Chikuzan's spoken discourse of musical critique while reflecting it against his musical-performative production. It considers Chikuzan within the context of networks of competing forces, including those of Satō, his musical mentor Narita Unchiku, wartime society, and Japan's postwar high- growth period. While Chikuzan's performance technique evolved significantly over time, and he acknowledged shamisen music to be a "tradition of change," his overall aesthetic carefully maintained the scent of his origins, the "stink of the earth."
Ayako Horiuchi, The University of Tokyo
This study explores the argument about Japanese pronunciation and its Japaneseness in singing Japanese art songs Nihon Kakyoku from the Taishō to Shōwa periods, focusing on creative activities of composers, singers and poets who tried to solve incompatibilities between pronunciation of Japanese lyric and Western musical canon. In the Taishō era, a composer Yamada Kōsaku and a poet Kitahara Hakusyū started collaboration of Nihon Kakyoku with an emphasis on sound of pronunciation for the first time in Japan. At that time shortly after the acceptance of Western music, despite the common style of composition that accentuated Western musical form and its aesthetics by the sacrifice of accent and rhythm of Japanese language, they found the way to compose Nihon Kakyoku which sounded the same as pronunciation of spoken language. Their theory and practice were taken over by a singer Yotsuya Fumiko who was a Yamada’s student and a Japanese linguist Kindaichi Haruhiko. Yotsuya and Kindaichi published a singing method for Nihon Kakyoku consisting of vocalism and pronunciation. In the method, they proposed that Japanese specific sounds came out of words by emphasized expression of a sense of language, Gokan as subtle differences of nuances expressed by the sounds of a word, in singing performance, so that they pronounced Japanese lyrics close to speech. Those four people aimed to cross a boundary between speaking and singing, and to find Japanese musical identity through establishment of a new form of fusion between poetry and music.
Alex Murphy, University of Chicago
Regarding Recitation: Poetry, Technology, and the Politics of the Voice in Japan, 1929 – 1934
This paper concerns the formations of the poetry recitation movement (shi no rōdoku undō) in Japan from 1929 to 1934. This period reflects the appearance of recitation as an object of interest and discussion among poets writing for an array of modern and modernist coterie magazines. The movement began to assume a more coherent form in 1934 and remained active over the next ten years. During this time, many of its affiliated poets steered their work toward increasingly nationalistic ends, culminating in a series of radio broadcasts of “patriotic poetry” (rajio aikoku shi) from 1942 to 1944. While a more comprehensive discussion of this movement would approximate this wider timeframe, this paper focuses instead on the emergence of this recitation discourse at a moment when its formal and political horizons remained uncertain and open to fervent debate. Perspectives on recitation varied widely within and across vernacular, proletarian, and avant-garde poetry circles, but nonetheless converged on the potential of the sounding voice to recover what many considered the inherent sociality and immediacy of poetry that had receded in the modern landscape of print and visual media. This renewed attention to the voice reveals an acute awareness of the potential of sound technologies, particularly the phonograph, radio, and microphone, to shape the social and aesthetic contours of poetic practice. This paper in turn examines the impact of these technologies on the development of the recitation movement, and the broader political valence of aurality and orality in interwar cultural production.
Aragorn Quinn, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Listening to the Zenshinza: Live and Recorded Sound in 1930s Japanese Rensa-geki
The theater is a space where performance is not just seen; it is also a space where performance is heard. The advent of film with recorded sound represented one important focal point of a larger existential crisis that faced live proletarian performance in Japan in the 1930s. Pressured by artistic challenges from new media as well as increased political suppression throughout the decade, proletarian theater practitioners looked for ways to rethink the role and place of liveness within the context of an increasingly mediatized world. This backdrop helps explain the interest by the proletarian theater community in producing work that combined liveness with mediation. For this reason, the by-that-time passé genre of the rensa-geki (live-mediated hybrid performance) enjoyed a renewed critical and popular interest. This paper examines aurality in the theater space in the context of proletarian rensa-geki performance. Specifically, it looks at proletarian theater practitioners Murayama Tomoyoshi’s and Kubo Sakae’s productions about the Shinsengumi (the Shogunate’s police force in Kyoto during the 1860s). These productions made up a multi-platform release of stories about the group for the Zenshinza Theater in the late 1930s. This paper argues that these shows implement the aural experience of the production in ways that undermine the visual narrative. Offering a new way to hear the theater, Murayama and Kubo point towards a remarkably prescient way forward for live proletarian performance.
Panel 7: Travel and Visuality
Chaired by Roderick Wilson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Nobuko Toyosawa, University of Chicago
A Sense of Place, A Sense of History: Kaibara Ekiken (1614-1730) and His 1706 Guidebook of the Capital, Keijō shoran
This paper examines Kaibara Ekiken’s Keijō shōran (The Excellent Views of the Capital), which was first published by a publisher in Kyoto called Ryūshiken in 1706 and many more times in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Ekiken was a scholar and traveler, and the frequency of this publication suggests the popularity and marketability of this text. My paper explores what made this text one of the lasting sellers of the time. While Keijō shōran is often introduced as a tour of Kyoto, this paper rigorously analyzes the meaning attributed to “Keijō” as the capital. Through the organization of the tour in seventeen days in accordance with the twelve sexagenary cycle that determined the time of the day and directions, Ekiken divided the capital region into smaller segments and presented how the capital of Japan was topographically in perfect correspondence with all four corners of the cardinal directions (shijin sōō). His tour of the capital selected the indigenous spiritual sites to strengthen the ideal topography of the capital and pronounced Japan as the country of the deities (shinkoku). Keijō shōran is, therefore, a tour of Japan’s capital that embodies the distinct identity of Japan as the shinkoku that originates in the history of the divine age and also rooted in the sense of places where the capital is located. This paper hopes to highlight a new approach to understand Japan’s early modernity by the examination of the literary history and cultural representations.
Eve Zimmerman, Wellesley College
Of Roofs and Valleys: Ethnographic Photography, Futagawa Yukio, and the Materiality of Nihon no Minka (1957): second presenter
The ethnographic architectural history is a subgenre of history book in which photography is used to categorize or diagnose the cultural constitution of a people. In the early 1970s, the photographer and future publishing magnate, Futagawa Yukio produced Wooden Houses in Europe, Houses of Northern Europe, and Houses of Southern Europe, all examples of such photographic ethnographies. Turning back a decade, however, we note that Futagawa’s European work was preceded by a study of his own country, the stunning photographic history of Japanese architecture, Nihon no Minka. This ten- volume set, with copious notes by the architectural historian, Itō Teiji, later appeared in English-language versions: The Roots of Japanese Architecture (1963) and The Essential Japanese House (1962/1967). We consider how Futagawa’s appeal toward the visual and tactile aspects of a traditional Japanese ‘folk aesthetic’ reflected his ambivalent relationship with modernism while at the same time serving as an incipient form of political protest against Japan’s political order in the middle to late 1950s.
Kelly Hansen, San Diego State University
Song as Cultural Memory: Yokohama and the Little Girl in the Red Shoes
The legend of the little girl in the red shoes (akai kutsu) has played a prominent role in the construction of Yokohama’s identity as an international port city. Today, the majority of markers surrounding this legend are visual – the akai kutsu sightseeing bus, the statue of the girl near Minato Mirai, and the image of the red shoes on all manner of souvenirs from keychains to cookies. Other statues of the girl, erected throughout Japan and even in Yokohama’s sister city of San Diego, are testament to the connection between the legend and Yokohama’s sense of identity today. Initially, however, the legend spread orally, through a popular 1922 children’s song by Noguchi Ujō. The lyrics recount the story of a young Japanese girl adopted by foreigners and taken overseas. The narrative speculates nostalgically about what fate might have befallen this girl forced to abandon her home country, even wondering if her eyes might have turned blue. The song is generally assumed to be based on the life of Iwasaki Kimi, although recent scholarship indicates that it is primarily fabrication. Rather than an exotic life in a foreign country, Kimi was most likely taken to an orphanage in Japan by her stepfather, where she later contracted TB and died at age nine. This paper explores the socio-political factors surrounding how this beloved children’s song become embedded in the collective imaginary of Yokohama’s modern historical narrative.
Panel 8: Modernity and Aesthetics
Chaired by Laurie Johnson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Juliana Choi, University of California, San Diego
Edogawa’s Phantasmagoria: the Haptic Politics of “The Human Chair.”
The spectacle of modern industrialized urban life is a prominent and consistent feature in the works of Edogawa Ranpo, considered the father of detective fiction in Japan. Yet in Edogawa’s fictional worlds, sight is a sensual, tactile force integrated with the other “lesser” senses. Edogawa’s modern spectacle is an affective sensorium, felt like a penetrative shock to the body, where our bodily senses work to (partially) recover what is left unseen. This emphasis on the modern subject’s discerning skin over the rational eye characterizes Edogawa’s “haptic art” (shokkaku geijutsu). My paper focuses on Edogawa’s short horror story “The Human Chair.” Hiding in the pitch-black confines of a luxurious arm chair, a Burakumin craftsman becomes obsessed with smelling, touching, and listening to those that sit on his lap. In particular, he falls in love with a conspicuously “Westernesque” New Woman character to whom he writes his confessional letter. This Burakumin craftsman in the story is an absent-presence, invisible to the eye and ultimately erased from the text completely. I argue that this story re-enacts the way that the Burakumin were rendered an un-visible yet sensually discernible racial Other. The craftsman continuously feels and is felt by means of a conspicuous, leather- covered arm chair. The Other is not present or locatable but remains as a sensual trace that can be reterritorialized in skin of the leather commodity.
Luciana Sanga, Stanford University
Seeing and Being Seen in Tanabe Seiko’s Novel Iiyoru (“Approach”)
Iiyoru, one of Tanabe Seiko’s most enduring works, is now consumed by young women as a love novel and hailed by critics as a feminist text. But readers seem to forget that Iiyoru’s message of love and feminism has humble, if not paradoxical origins: It first appeared alongside photographs of scantily-clad women, serialized in a weekly low-brow magazine for men. How do we explain this shift in readership and reception, from woman as a consumable object to woman as an autonomous, liberated force? Noriko, the heroine of Iiyoru, herself seems ironically aware of this question, and she responds to it through art that is both sexual and visual – as if to fit the medium in which her story lives. Her art confronts the stereotypical feminine poses that depict women everywhere from men’s magazines to fine art museums. One such pose, the mikaeri bijin, has the woman look over her shoulder, returning the glance of a would-be lover with an inviting glance of her own. In Noriko’s rendering, mikaeri bijin is a girl bent over, looking back at the world upside-down from between her legs. Is this still the inviting gaze of a docile girl?
Fusako Innami, Durham University
Literary texts often manifest repressed desires for touch, with the repression further heightening the desire to touch the other. This repressed desire, conversely, leads to variously mediated touch, such as through the skin, membranes, linking objects, the gaze, light/shadow, or the page, as my doctoral and current book project has explored. Some authors, in depicting touch, dissolve the categorical boundaries such as subject/object, male/female, human/non-human, and divisions among sensory modalities. Among them, touch through smell is naturally liberated from such dichotomies, much more so than, for example, haptic visuality. In Tayama Katai’s Quilt, the male protagonist embraces his loved one’s scent or smell left on her quilt and hair ribbon. The one who is trying to touch the other is the male protagonist, but the one who is reaching out is the beloved, through her scent. Also, the two films telling Abe Sada’s story (by Ōshima Nagisa and Tanaka Noboru) depict main characters who cherish the lover’s smell left on a kimono; Sada even tries to keep the intimate air filling the room from escaping. Olfactory touch complicates the long-standing subject/object debate. Furthermore, scent gives us a dynamic historical lens through which to view particular objects or manners that signal the lover’s arrival: incense trapped in the kimono or quilt, pomade, body odor left in the concrete building or perfume. Primarily looking at olfactory touch through scents left in fabric in Tayama and Abe Sada’s case, this paper begins my larger project to theorize intimate olfactory touch through Japanese examples.
Douglas Slaymaker, University of Kentucky
What the horses do not know (Furukawa Hideo's Umatachiyo, Sore demo hikariha muka de)
There is both inundation and cleaning out; there is too much to process and too little means to respond. The sheer force of the triple disasters of March 11, 2011 threatens the dissolution of sense and sensibility. Thus a description of viewing the television news early in Furukawa Hideo’s complicated work Horses, Horses, in the Purity of Light: “Now the surface of my eyeballs is totally dried out. More like the dam has burst, actually.” There is both deluge and desert, both overwhelming and emptying. This presentation will explore the multiple ways that the senses, and the sensibility to process information, are compromised and expanded after 311. It starts with vision, as noted above; sense of touch and sense of hearing become disordered; perhaps most importantly is the complicated interweaving of a sense of time and the experience of history. But the point of Furukawa’s title is the horror of not knowing, of not being able to sense: the horses of the narrative understand that important shifts have taken place in the world, but standing in the flawless and pristine light of a crisp morning, there is no way they can know, no way they can sense, the radiation that flows, like light, and threatens to melt all connections of sinew, bone, and muscle, threatens to dissolve any possibility of lineage and shared memories, threatens to overwhelm and subsume life. The disorientation comes through what we can sense is in the air, and what the horses do not know.
Panel 9: Pleasure, sensuality and the senses
Chaired by Nancy Blake, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Ikuho Amano, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Pleasure for Its Own Sake: Sense and Nonsense in Ōshima Nagisa’s In the Realm of the Senses
This paper reads the portrayal of sexual intercourse in In the Realm of the Senses (1976) directed by Ōshima as a radical antithesis to Japan’s postwar conformism. Shortly after premiered, the film based on the real incident known as “Abe Sada Incident” (1936) stirred pubic controversy and led it to a trial for its obscenity. While Japan’s decency law failed defining what indecency is, the film became a sort of Pandora’s Box that unraveled a public horizon of expectation regarding graphic eroticism and artistic transgression. The film thus played a powerful pretext for Ōshima’s well-known dictum: “What makes the film dirty is the censorship, not the film itself is innately dirty.” The film persistently visualizes sexual intercourse, by frequent close-ups of genitals; however, the repetition that takes place in non-quotidian space of play apparently deters the viewer’s sexual desire, unlike sheer pornographic films that are meant to arouse it. Instead, the goal of the unprecedented displays of the body seems desensitizing the viewer’s perception of human sexuality altogether. Then, as symbolically culminated by the dissected penis of the male protagonist Kichizō, the film challenges the viewer’s sensory experience for its own sake. To this end, the film celebrates non-utilitarian use of senses as a core of humanity, while implicitly critiquing the production-driven norms of capitalism and dehumanization of labor in postwar Japan. Shedding light on senses, this paper argues that the film belongs to the lineage of Decadence, an aesthetic credo marked by willful self-marginalization in pursuit of sensory pleasure.
Joanne Quimby, North Central College
Non-genital intimacy and the sense of touch as sexual experience in Oyayubi P no shugyo jidai
Matsuura Rieko’s 1993 novel Oyayubi P no shugyō jidai (The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P) has become quite well-known in the field of modern Japanese literary studies for its clever and seemingly comical plot device of the big-toe penis, but less critical attention has been paid to Matsuura’s overall project of de-centering the hegemony of what she calls “penis-vagina sex.” Together with Matsuura’s critical writings, such as “Seiki no nai eros” (Eroticism without genitals), Oyayubi P suggests that a more complete understanding of sexual/erotic experience must include a consideration of non-genital intimacy, in particular the sense of touch. While literary critics and readers alike have tended to focus on the spectacle of toe-penis itself, this paper will consider instead the various ways in which Matsuura’s complex text explores the sense of touch as a sexual/sensual stimulus, and will present a reading of the novel that takes Matsuura’s critical writings and theoretical stance into account. Specifically, it is my argument that the novel’s attention to a variety of sexual experiences and realities in fact works to suggest that forms of non-genital intimacy (such as the sense of touch) are just as central to human erotic experience as “sex” is, and that by dispersing sexual feeling across the body through touch, the novel echoes Matsuura’s claims made elsewhere that “there are sex organs all over the body” (with reference to Deleuze) and her insistence that constructions of sexuality must be freed from a preoccupation with genital sex.
Junko Yamazaki, University of Chicago
Sense-Hacking: Queer Aesthetics of 1950s Toei Jidaigeki
From Sawashima Tadashi’s jidaigeki musical to Misora Hibari’s cross-dressing and gender performance, and Ichikawa Utaemon’s display of garish kimono in “kinagashi” style in Hatamoto taikutsuotoko series (various directors, 1952-63), Toei jidaigeki of the 1950s is full of what Sianne Ngai calls “weak aesthetic categories”—zany, cute, interesting. Ngai defines their “weakness” vis-à-vis more well-defined aesthetic categories (i.e. sublime, beauty), arguing for their hitherto-neglected aesthetic values while leaving the basic tenets and assumptions about aesthetics as a discipline unchallenged. In light of recent development in film and media theories, this presentation approaches aesthetics differently by considering the medium of film as a “hacker” of senses. As film scholar James Lastra shows in his study of the development of film sound aesthetics in American cinema, when confronted by the medium that did not fit in the conventional understandings of the relationship between perception and representation, critics, theorists, and practitioners alike “carved a space for subjectivity in film narration” by modeling its technology and technical standards on the human perception. In its pursuit of entertaining mass audiences, Toei jidiageki of the 1950s developed a different economy of narration. I argue that this mode of narration is better understood as “sense- hacking” than “sense-making” of an embodied—however anti-identarian—subject. I will first elaborate on the idea of film as a “hacker” of senses. I will then discuss instances of hacking by drawing on 1950s Japanese studio system, institutional practices and film techniques specific to Toei’s Kyoto studio, and informal knowledge and vernacular discourses.
Motoi Katsumata, Meisei University
The Face of Oiwa: The Evolution of the Visual Effect in the Horror Narratives of Yotsuya Kaidan
In Japan, adults and children alike can conjure up "the face of Oiwa-san (お岩さん)": the ubiquitously known face with a swollen eyelid. This image comes from Tsuruya Nanboku's kabuki play "Tōkaidō yotsuya kaidan", first performed in 1825, in which the heroin Oiwa is poisoned and disfigured by her husband Iemon. The visible scarring of Oiwa’s face creates an unparalleled effect of horror in the play. However, the original narrative on which the kabuki play is based presents a completely different story behind Oiwa’s face . The origin of Yotsuya Kaidan stories was a novel titled "Yotsuya zōtan (四 谷雑談)"(1727), which circulated only in manuscript form and belongs to a literary genre called jitsuroku tai shōsetsu (実録体小説 nonfictional-style novels). According to this novel, Oiwa's face was disfigured due to the smallpox she suffered from at the age of 20, and not because of Iemon, whom she married only after her face had already been scarred. The less known fact is that the novel "Yotsuya zōtan" was directly adapted as a script for kōdan (講談), a traditional art form of oral storytelling, in addition to kabuki. In fact, if we consider the historical process through which Yotsuya Kaidan narratives were disseminated, the kōdan version of Oiwa’s story arguably constituted the main medium, while the kabuki play was only an offshoot. In this paper, I will trace the changes the Yotsuya Kaidan stories underwent as they were adapted from jitsuroku tai shōsetsu to kōdan, focusing on how the image of Oiwa’s face is presented. By analyzing the different versions of Oiwa’s face, I will examine the ways in which the art of oral storytelling employs visual tropes in order to achieve a heightened sense of horror.
Panel 10: Post-imperial literature and the senses
Chaired by Robert Tierney, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Andrea Mendoza, Cornell University
Reading Doku[fu] and Consuming Cannibal: Bodies of Un-Belonging in Post-Imperial Film and Literature
In his study on cannibalism as a trope in cultural discourse, Canibalia (2008), Carlos Jáuregui writes that cannibalism “constitutes a manner for understanding Others as much as it constitutes a manner for understanding sameness.” Around the time of Canibalia’s publication, Christine Marran’s Poison Woman exposed the figure of female transgression, the “poison woman” or dokufu, in modern literature as one that “has everything to do with configuring the Japanese subject.” While Jáuregui’s text concerns the figure of anthropophagy in a postcolonial Latin American context and Marran’s discusses the figuration of transgressive femininity into modern Japanese cultural discourse, these two studies point out the correlation between conceptualizations of alterity and figuring bodies of inclusivity—a question inextricable from discussions on the figuration of Japan and its cultural discourse in postwar, post-imperial contexts. Indeed, by the mid-twentieth century, several literary and cinematic works used the figures of anthropophagy and dokufu to criticize and reconfigure nationalist and patriarchal ideologies. Analyzing works such as Ōshima Nagisa’s In the Realm of the Senses and Kōno Taeko’s “Toddler Hunting,” my project compares figures of un- belonging that seem to inter-textually and supra-textually interact, perhaps beyond national categorical regimes, emphasizing possible dialogues with their manifestations in the Latin American literary and cinematic regimes. As figures that bring self and Other into violent, sensuous and discursive relations, I argue, these tropes that consume, digest and disperse meanings just as they are consumed, digested and dispersed also destabilize concepts of belonging, nationhood and Otherness.
Catherine Ryu, Michigan State University
The Language of Red in Kim Ch’ang-Saeng’s “Akai Mi” (“Crimson Fruit,” 1989)
This study delineates the relationship between the narrative structure of “Crimson Fruit,” a novella by a relatively unknown zainichi author, Kim Ch’ang-Saeng, and the color red as an overarching metaphor that binds together thematically this otherwise highly episodic and elusive story. To that end, I will employ a doubletiered approach to calibrate the significance of the color red in this novella, which depicts one evening in the life of the protagonist On-nyo, a working mother recovering from an abusive marriage. This approach entails not only a close reading of “Akai mi” but also correlating the findings of that reading with how colors function as a visual stimulus that becomes processed as it moves through neurological pathways and cognitive levels in the brain. Such an interpretive strategy will result in a multilayered analysis of how the author illuminates the protagonist’s probing conscious mind via how On-nyo interacts with the color red. A focused attention to this recurring color in the novella will thus facilitate readers’ understanding of On-nyo’s perception of herself and others in her conscious and subconscious minds that constantly blur the distinction between the past and present, between reality and fantasy, and between memory and dream. Ultimately, my approach to this zainichi writing will contribute to expanding the conventional interpretative framework of this “minor” literature in Japanese national literature by opening up a new critical space in which to integrate the interpretive practices in literary studies and the new findings in cognitive neuroscience on the senses and sensory perceptions.
Christina Yi, University of British
Decadence, Double Agents, and a Drunken Boat: Colonial Legacies in Tanaka Hidemitsu’s Yoidorebune
The buraiha (“decadent school”) is an appellation given to a group of writers who emerged in the years following Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allied Powers in 1945. While these writers did not actively identify themselves as a coherent literary circle, their writings shared an emphasis on nihilistic recklessness, dissolution, and bodily excess that was not simply a response to the chaotic conditions of immediate postwar Japan but an attempt to transcend or disrupt the prewar-postwar continuities of the authoritarian state.
The 1949 long novel Yoidorebune (Drunken Boat) by Tanaka Hidemitsu (1913–1949) is one example of this kind of writing. Set in colonial-period Korea and very loosely based on Tanaka’s own life, Yoidorebune details the wartime activities of the writer Sakamoto Kyōkichi and the alluring poet-turned-spy Ro Tenshin. While Kyōkichi rejects the propaganda of colonial officials by embracing instead a life of sensual decadence, Ro Tenshin uses her participation in the Greater East Asian Writers’ Meeting (Daitōa bungakusha kaigi) as a smokescreen to hide her pro-independence activities. In this paper, I explicate how Ro Tenshin’s body becomes the center around which the events of Yoidorebune coalesce. In doing so, I show how discourses of war responsibility and collaboration in post-1945 Japan depended on a revisioning of the past that ultimately privileged the male, nationalized, and properly “post”(war/colonial) subject as the double-agent of history.
Andre Haag, University of New Mexico
Visualizing the Korean Subversive as Detective Work in Taishō Crime Narratives
In late Taishō Japan, amidst rising fears of Korean criminality and resistance, imperial authorities and writers alike confronted the question of how to monitor "invisible" non- Japanese subjects who could potentially pass for Japanese. The prospect that colonizer and colonized might be visually indistinguishable proved a double-edge sword in Japanese colonial discourse--convenient for the purposes of assimilation, but frustratingly problematic vis-a-vis a scopic drive to identify and differentiate. Police circulars from the era noted with alarm that Korean assimilation of Western or Japanese clothing made it increasingly challenging to distinguish between the two peoples, and provided guidelines for identifying Korean subjects based on subtle physical as well as outward cultural markers. This paper explores one aspect of the sensory experience of colonial difference- -or lack thereof--in terms of visuality rendered in prose fiction. Turning to popular Japanese crime and detection narratives featuring Korean figures, I examine how prose strained to make visible racialized distinctions between Japanese and "unruly" Koreans not perceptible to the naked eye, by employing language and ratiocination that un-blinded the colonial gaze. By reading Korean crime narratives against stories of the violent identity panic that followed the 1923 Kantō Earthquake, it is possible to reveal acute metropolitan anxieties about the impossibility of visualizing difference between Japanese and Koreans, or even telling obedient Koreans from "subversive Koreans" (futei Senjin), and consider what the failed drive to see the Other augured for cross-cultural detective work in imperial Japan.
Panel 11 Making Sense of Sagoromo: Bodily Insights into Senji’s Text
Discussant: Edwin Cranston, Harvard University
The Tale of Sagoromo often evokes Genji, through both its debts to Murasaki’s tale and the ways in which Senji breaks the mold. Criticism grounded in these details thus tells us as much about Genji, and changing literary tastes, as about Sagoromo. Put differently, it foregrounds an intertextual relationship. To explore the senses in Sagoromo, by contrast, is to recognize the tale’s internal complexity—especially, and perhaps ironically, with respect to relationships between characters. As the first three papers in this panel discuss, refocusing our attention on the visual, olfactory, and tactile perceptions of the protagonist and his lovers reveals a fully-embodied portrait of suffering, piquing our interest even if the experiences so narrated (notably, sexual assault) also repulse us. From kaimami, and signature scents to the surprisingly literal weight of guilt and loneliness, the passages mined in these papers also point to the darkness at the heart of a tale that closes, in some manuscripts, with a paean to the depth of romantic relationships. The fourth paper, which explores the role of sound in medieval songs devoted to this facet of Sagoromo, bookends the panel by introducing a third way to make sense of the tale: via its own changing reception, in this case at banquets where mixed groups gave suffering a new voice. Collectively, we propose that the body of the tale—like those of the characters—significantly complicates existing conversations on Sagoromo. We look forward to a lively discussion.
Steven Hanna, Harvard University
Robes Worn By Night: Weight And Dread In Sagoromo monogatari
Even by Heian literary standards, it’s hard for modern readers to call the hero of Sagoromo heroic. At best he’s a scoundrel, at worst a wet blanket; not for nothing, but he’s almost certainly a rapist. All of these descriptors are anachronistic, of course, very much including “hero,” yet hero he remains. Notwithstanding the strong arguments that he’s more of a villain – some of those may be made, quite ably, by my fellow panelists– we shouldn’t forget that Senji holds Sagoromo up as a paragon of courtly virtue, and that it’s his inner turmoil, much more than that of the women whose lives he ruins, that forms the core of her narrative. What is it to take Senji at her word, and accept this unlikeable, occasionally venal character as the hero of her text? What motivates, shapes, curtails or modulates his behavior? What, in short, makes him tick? If so much of what Sagoromo does seems unconscionable, it’s worth remembering that he has no conscience – that term too is an anachronism. But though he may not be “pricked,” to use the English idiom, something equally tactile guides his choices. Sagoromo, as befits a man whose sobriquet translates to something like “gossamer-thin robe,” thinks of opprobrium, judgment, possibly even consequence itself as a weight that will be thrown over his shoulders, a burdensome garment he’s disinclined to wear. Again and again we find Senji employing language suggestive of heaviness, texture, or thickness to depict Sagoromo’s guilt or fear or caviling; for a man whose defining frustration is the placement of the woman he loves beyond his reach, it’s a clever irony that his torment is described as a dread of having hands laid upon him. Indeed, we might go so far as to view this as Senji’s quiet critique of Heian society, that in a world that allows men the power to initiate sexual encounters regardless of women’s consent, our rapist hero is as loath as his victims to be touched.
Michelle Kuhn, Nagoya University
Scent and Seduction in the Tale of Sagoromo
The Tale of Sagoromo is a transgressive text that depicts the aftermath of a sexual assault in detail over several years. One of the most evocative details is that the male protagonist’s scent warns the victim that she is about to be assaulted a second time, allowing her to hide and escape assault. A male protagonist's scent in Japanese literature of the Heian period (794-1185) usually allowed a woman to discern the nature and identity of her lover. Moreover, the man’s scent often allowed the man to further his romantic goals. Yet, in the Tale of Sagoromo, the male protagonist’s scent alerts women of his presence and foils his romantic efforts on multiple occasions. The inefficacy of scent in seduction is a sharp departure from previous tales. Several men in the Tale of Sagoromo attempt to marry their sisters or daughters to the male protagonist, but the inefficacy of scent and the women’s resistance negates these attempts to create homosocial bonds. In the Tale of Genji, scent’s ability to confuse a woman and allow another man access drives a wedge between two male characters. In the Tale of Genji, the woman seduced by scent is a pawn in the struggle between the two men, but in the Tale of Sagoromo, a woman who is not deceived by scent destroys a plan created to strengthen homosocial bonds. The women’s refusals and the failure of scent to seduce women in the Tale of Sagoromo function as a dark mirror to the efficacy of scent in the Tale of Genji.
Daniel F.O. Joseph, Harvard University
The New Voyeurism: Kaimami in Sagoromo monogatari
The trope of the kaimami (literally ‘looking through the fence’) appears throughout the court literature of the Heian period, and the late 11th century Sagoromo monogatari is no exception. Through a close reading of one such pivotal scene in that work, I will explore the relationship between the structure of kaimami and the depiction and diegetic function of sensory experience. I will focus on seeing and being seen, but despite the name, kaimami is often a multi-sensory experience, weaving together aural, olfactory and tactile experience, in addition to the visual. Indeed, in Sagoromo there is a kind of narrative sensory chain, climaxing in the visual, that exists in parallel to a penetration of layers both visual/physical and metaphorical, as well as to the movement from passive to active verbs. The Japanese verb miru ‘to look’ has often been connected to the sexual act, and through its relationship to dual notions of layering and penetration, the kaimami is intimately connected to the depiction of the sexual in Heian literature. Layering of clothing and layering of furniture, in addition to psychological layering, are used in Sagoromo to depict a complex sensory experience. This paper reassesses the narrative functions of kaimami as a step toward reassessing previous reception of late Heian tale literature in general. In its dark, visceral sexuality and depictions of psychological torment, Sagoromo monogatari belies previous dismissals of late Heian tales as derivative or inferior, and in fact represents a robust development from the earlier literature.
Charo D'Etcheverry, University of Wisconsin-Madison
The Tale of Sagoromo in Medieval Song: Sound, Class, and Resistance.
While medieval interest in The Tale of Sagoromo took many forms—scores of divergent manuscript copies, tens of diverse shorter tales devoted to a favorite subplot, even a Noh by Sanjônishi Sanetaka—the most compelling may well be two short works in the genre of sôga 早歌 (light song, also sôka and enkyoku 宴曲). Written by a priest known as Meikû 明空 (also Myôgû etc.), “Sagoromo’s Sleeves” (Sagoromo no sode 狭衣袖) and “Sagoromo’s Spouse” (Sagoromo no tsuma 狭衣妻) follow generic norms in setting excerpts of its source to music, to be performed at parties in Kamakura (and, perhaps, Muromachi). As in sôga generally, singers were likely mostly amateur, male, and drawn from the second ranks of warriors, priests, and aristocrats. What makes these songs compelling, relative to Sagoromo’s other tributes and to sôga inspired by other court tales, is their lyrics, particularly in performance. The tributes to Sagoromo noted earlier also presented contemporary audiences with alternate soundscapes: notably, the single- voiced, group-consumed text posited for Heian court-based reception and the silent (?), privately-consumed text attested by those widespread, variant manuscripts (tale and stories alike). The songs discussed here further transformed the sonic Sagoromo into a masculine, hyper-localized chorus, while privileging allusions to waka (vs. kanshi) and re-orienting the plot. I argue that these changes, especially in rhythmic group performance, highlight the singers’ collective identity as second-class elites, providing space for self-acceptance and emotional resistance.
Panel 12 Japanese Aesthetics, the Senses, and the State
Discussant: Michael Bourdaghs, University of Chicago
As early as the mid-19th century call for “Civilization and Enlightenment,” Japanese intellectuals paradoxically reworked the discursive space of art according to a dual demand for, on one side, art’s political engagement, and on another, art’s disengagement from the social into the inner workings of the mind. But in many ways these demands were not treated as separate and from its earliest moments the modern Japanese aesthetic was enmeshed in the sensible, those networks of perception, action and intelligibility embodied in everyday practices and politico-economic institutions. This relationship between aesthetics and the sensible unfolded in an ambivalent manner, at times functioning to conceal these forms, making hidden those networks which govern and determine experiential horizons, and at other times functioning to the reverse effect, challenging unfair sensual partitions and thus allowing for the reinterpretation and rearticulation of customary and institutional significance. This panel takes up both sides of this ambiguous relationship between the senses and the state in Japanese aesthetics. It investigates two important moments in 20th century Japanese art, working to uncover the sensory-political relationship as it structures certain discourses in interwar literature and aesthetic philosophy, and in postwar poetry and architecture. Lingling Ma begins the panel by confronting this sensory-state ambiguity directly, demonstrating how the Vitalism in Tanizaki’s Siren opens up a plurality of political possibilities. Kyle Peters follows with a far less politically ambiguous case, elucidating the connection between nationalistic rhetoric and the phenomenological method in Watsuji’s early aesthetics. Against Watsuji’s aesthetics in the service of the state, Justin Wilson next discusses the Waste Land poets who work to artistically deconstruct the violence of abstraction in a postwar Japan. Nicholas Risteen finishes the panel by discussing the link between art and violence in a less emancipatory way than the above poets, showing the way in which the aesthetic enframing of wartime disaster functions to create disaster’s scope and scale.
Lingling Ma, University of Tokyo
Tanizaki’s Siren: The Self-Destructive Avent-Garde and the Vitalist Undercurrent in the Taisho-era
This presentation works to understand the co-constitutive connection between Vitalism and biopolitics in Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s novel Kōjin (Siren) by discursively locating this relationship in the Taishō avant-garde movement. It first looks at how Kōjin uses the literary format to “form the formless;” that is, how it crystallizes “life,” the tumultuous flux of vital energy of the masses, into modernist formal innovation through its ekphrasis of the flourishing Asakusa Opera. In doing so, it elucidates the ways in which the marginalized masses, those vagabonds, homeless, charlatans, proletariats, and amateur actors and actresses who have been historically rendered invisible (insensible) and formless, were made visible (sensible) through the eruption of the vital energy of Asakusa Park as a modern entertainment institution. The “life” of Asakusa Park, described as a living organism for its vertiginous mobility and dissolving boundaries, gestures towards the undercurrent of Vitalism (Seimei Shugi) in the 1910s. Simultaneously, the concept of “life” delimits the horizon of the discourse on biopolitics, the ways in which the state regulates the body of the population. As such, Vitalism opens up a plurality of possibilities: while it is later appropriated by Fascist aesthetics and ideology to formulate an imagined organic community, it is also enmeshed with anarchism and the Taishō avant-garde movement through its collapsing of the distance between art and life. The presentation argues that just as the selfdestructive avant-garde in the Taishō era, embodied in the short-lived Asakusa Opera, the vital energy animating Kōjin renders it a living text, but also eventually consumes itself and leaves the novel unfinished.
Kyle Peters, University of Chicago
Art, Phenomenology, and Ontological Aidagara: The Sensory and the State in Watsuji’s Early Aesthetics
This presentation investigates the relationship between phenomenology and nationalism in Watsuji Tetsurō’s early account of artistic production and reception. It focuses on two of his early essays on art, both written in the late-1920s while studying phenomenology in Berlin. It first demonstrates the way in which his descriptive phenomenology of the senses, most rigorously articulated as a spatial critique of Martin Heidegger's temporal prioritization of care [sorge] in his 1935 work Climate [Fudō], was nascent in his early aesthetic philosophy, both temporally and spatially, or in his own words historically and climatically, structuring his account of art. In doing so, it demonstrates the way in which Watsuji's work on “artistic style" relies on his descriptive phenomenological approach, encountering and articulating past style through the givenness of the sensed present, and further the manner in which this phenomenological temporal flattening stands as the motivation for the spatial diffusion of artistic style based on its “location” of production. Next, this presentation connects Watsuji's phenomenological approach to his nationalist rhetoric, making clear the process by which his synchronically felt, locative phenomenological account is used to ascribe to art both a universal and culturally specific ontological status. That is, it demonstrates how Watsuji’s phenomenology, which in 1935 seeks to articulate the universal structures of climaticity through a rigorous analysis of differences in climate, is used to root artistic creativity in the fundamental character of the human being as it simultaneously formulates the work as the bearer of cultural, racial, and national significance.
Justin Wilson, University of California, Los Angeles
Utopian Visions/Apocalyptic Anxieties: Taiken and the Restoration of Language in Postwar Japan
This paper investigates the relationship of nationalism, modernism, and cultural production as it is depicted in key texts of the Waste Land group from 1947 through the 1950s. In order to do so, it will follow the group through their recollections of the political and intellectual climate of the global interwar period in which they came of age. Of central importance was the phenomena of tenkō (ideological conversion), which the group attempted to show was symptomatic of the larger failure of intellectual classes to engage with the reality of Japanese society. From there, we will consider how the group’s insistence that they remained in the wasteland implied a link between the catastrophic reality of world war and the temporal forms of twentieth century politics. Finally, by turning to their poetry, we will consider their exit strategy. If recollections of the past and lamentations of the present filled the pages of the magazine’s critical exposition, they argued that it was in their poetry that one could find the traces of a utopian vision, what Tamura Ryūichi described as the impulse to “transform spiritual disillusionment into creative power”. In sum, I will argue that by asserting the primacy of meaning in the production of poetry, and ‘human experience’ (taiken) in the constitution of history – the Waste Land group attempted to artistically deconstruct the very real violence of abstraction that attended the rise of modern Japan by breaking with both poetic traditionalism (dentōshugi) and modernism, relocating aesthetic sensation in human communication.
Nicholas Risteen, Princeton University
Sighting Disaster: National Visions and Urban Reconstruction
This presentation explores a confluence of bureaucratic visions and geographical imagination as they relate to the firebombing of Tokyo in 1944 and 1945 by comparing maps produced in 1945-46 by the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS) and Japan’s First Demobilization Ministry with Sata Ineko’s postwar memoir My Map of Tokyo. While the USSBS worked to create a record of bombing’s effects as a means of judging the efficacy of the American air campaign, Japan’s First Demobilization Ministry functioned under a mission to help re-orient the returning population of soldiers repatriated from Japan’s collapsed Empire. The macroscopic vision of the Norden Bombsight infuses the USSBS maps with a clinical precision at enormous scale, whilst the block-level notation of the First Demobilization Ministry maps the still abstract reality of wartime destruction across a recognizable urban landscape. Operating between these two poles or geographic imagination is Sata Ineko’s memoir My Map of Tokyo, which develops a “lived” experience of an urban Tokyo since eradicated by the war. All three critical objects under scrutiny here provide a ‘record’ of disaster, yet I argue that their presentation is in fact a critical part of that destruction: these various means of enframing disaster in fact create disaster’s extents, mapping and inscribing, through both visual and narrative objects, disaster’s scope and scale. Such lines and sensorial/memorial demarcations eventually drove the sites and sights of reconstruction, as Tokyo’s reconstituted physical and psychical reality became manifest in postwar architecture and urbanism.