Asian Studies Conference Japan

Saturday, June 19 - Sunday 20, 2004
Ichigaya Campus of Sophia University

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 Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181

Session 25: Room 208

Individual Paper Session: Music, Fiction, Film, and TV Drama

Chair: Yinghong Li, Obirin University

1) Linda Letten, La Trobe University.
Yokobue in the Enkyô-bon Variant of the Heike monogatari

The transcription of The Tale of Yokobue traverses time and genre from the medieval to the modern era in Japanese literature. The story is based on events relating to the ill-fated love affair between Yokobue and Takiguchi and first appears in Heike monogatari (The Tale of the Heike) in its written form. In all versions of the story I have examined thus far, Takiguchi goes to Ôjôin (formerly a temple in the modern day Hôrinji complex) in the Saga area on the outskirts of Kyoto and then to the exclusively male Mt Kôya. Yokobue's fate varies, depending on the version of the story. In the Kakuichi-bon version of the Heike she goes to Hokkeji, in Nara, but dies shortly thereafter. In the otogi bunko or otogi zôshi version published in c.1703 Yokobue throws herself into the Ôi River after failing to gain a meeting with Takiguchi at Ôjôin. The extant manuscript of the Enkyô-bon variant of the Heike Monogatari is now thought to represent the oldest textual lineage. The surviving text is believed to be a 1419 copy of a 1309 text which was reproduced from a manuscript dating to before 1252. This copy also arguably represents the oldest written lineage of Yokobue's story. In this presentation I will discuss the Enkyô-bon variant of the Heike monogatari as the oldest surviving written version of Yokobue's story, and its impact on other versions of the story.

2) Maryellen T. Mori, Independent Scholar.
The Centrality of Sacrificial Violence in Takahashi Takako’s Fiction

Takahashi Takako has written numerous works in which acts of violence, such as murder or suicide, are valorized for their power to inspire erotic euphoria and even religious awakening. My paper will examine how the Christian concepts of violent sacrifice and redemption have been incorporated in various ways by Takahashi into three novels that were written at different stages of her spiritual journey and her literary career. Ten no mizuumi (1977) portrays the relationship between a middle-aged artist and her lover, an ethereal youth. When the boy’s jealous brother kills him, both the murderer and the woman have revelatory experiences. Ikari no ko (1985) depicts a young woman whose impulsive murder of an acquaintance induces in her a fleeting sense of illumination. In both of these novels, the murder of a vulnerable individual is glorified as an occasion of grace that releases one or more characters from an emotional impasse and augurs a shift in his or her life’s direction. Kirei na hito (2003) considers the effects of violence on its survivor. The novel portrays a shell-shocked victim of wartime atrocities whose experiences serve as a catalyst for his spiritual growth. By shifting the focus from criminal to victim and expanding the story to include the character’s process of recovery, Takahashi offers a rich new treatment of a theme that has long preoccupied her.

3) Sarah Chen, Occidental College.
Returning to the Scene of the Crime: Three Novels by Qiu Xiaolong, Haruki Murakami, and Kazuo Ishiguro

This paper examines Qiu Xiaolong's Death of a Red Heroine, Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and Kazuo Ishiguro's When We Were Orphans as three variations of contemporary transnational crime fiction and in the context of the crime fiction traditions of the West, China, and Japan. How do these authors draw on past history and literary traditions to create their tales of crime and detection? How do these authors address issues of individual, national, cultural, and aesthetic identity through memories of the past? As international writers writing in English or in exile to a global audience, how do they "go home" to the scene of a national crime repressed in cultural memory? This paper will also discuss the transnational nature of the reception and consumption of these three novels, using as one specific example what I have learned from teaching these three novels for a freshman core course at Occidental College.

4) Rie Karatsu, Massey University. In-between Kitsch:
Takeshi Kitano's Adaptation of Zatôichi

Takeshi Kitano's latest film, Zatôichi (2003) signifies a return to form as well as a deviation from it. Building on Milan Kundera’s broad definition, this paper views kitsch as a particular, not entirely commercial mode of understanding cultures. I contend that the Japanese film director, Kitano offers us one vivid, comprehensive example of what it is for a Japanese artist so to translate the myth of jidaigeki, that it assumes first a Japanese and subsequently a cross-cultural significance. I shall further argue that in order to bring off this achievement, Kitano deploys the simplification of kitsch, but does so not to reassure audiences, eradicate difficulty, or soften the facts of life and death. Rather, Kitano borrows the fragmentation and compression of kitsch and place them in a quite different context. This paper can hardly offer the cultural inquirer a method; it can, however, teach a lesson. The lesson is that we borrow the instrument of kitsch at our peril, and that the risk is worth taking. Only if we are able to use to make the familiar seem strange, to compare incomparables, and to look through the lenses of one culture at the peculiarities of another, will it throw the negative aspects of kitsch in order to make use of its simplifications.

5) Wai-ming Ng, Chinese University of Hong Kong.
The Impact of Japanese Television Dramas on Hong Kong Television Dramas

This paper is a preliminary study of the impact of Japanese television dramas on Hong Kong television dramas from ethnographical and cultural perspectives. It is no exaggeration to say that Japanese television drama is the mother of Japanese popular culture in Hong Kong. It has had a considerable impact on Hong Kong entertainment industry and youth culture, stimulating the consumption of Japanese pop music, fashion and idol merchandize, influencing local television dramas and movies, and shaping Hongkongers’ perceptions of Japan. This research examines the recent trend that Hong Kong television drama producers and actors borrow heavily from Japanese television dramas in terms of story and plot, pace and presentation, acting, casting, photography, as well as theme songs and background music. My research utilizes primary and secondary sources and conducts fieldwork and interviews to gather data for analysis. Using the impact of Japanese TV dramas as an example, this research aims to deepen our understanding of the nature of cultural globalization, Japanization and localization in Asia.

 


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