Modern Japanese Literature and the Media Industry

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787). This special issue belongs to the section "Literature in the Humanities".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2022) | Viewed by 29579

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University, 1-24-1 Toyama, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8644, Japan
Interests: Japanese literature; documentary films

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue of Humanities focuses on the relationships between literature and the media industry, with a particular emphasis on the media ecosystem surrounding Japanese literature. Even in the print industry, texts take on a wide variety of forms upon release. This constitutes one of modern Japanese literature’s distinguishing characteristics. For example, Japanese authors tend to make their living from magazines by serializing their texts. Publishing a complete work of standalone fiction—the norm in Europe and North America—remains relatively minor. Furthermore, writers remain active in newspapers in Japan to this day. Daily novels are serialized in both major national newspapers and smaller, local papers alike.

These novels are then adapted in a variety of media. Of course theater adaptations have a long history, but stories originally published as novels thrived from the 20th century onward as they became the material for films, radio dramas, and television series. This is true not only for “literary films,” like the adaptations of Kawabata’s The Izu Dancer or Tanizaki’s The Makioka Sisters, but also for the surprising breadth of genres that have adapted novels: jidaigeki, yakuza films, action movies, domestic dramas, comedies, and even pornography.

The Internet has also produced its share of literature, including the BBS-born Train Man, the cellphone novels that took the 1990s by storm, Pebbles of Poetry and other Twitter poetry collections, and novels that are submitted to websites dedicated to online contributions. The light novel genre, and similar new media genres, also developed in relation to this “media mix”.

This Special Issue of Humanities, “Modern Japanese Literature and the Media Industry,” aims to analyze literature, not through the originality or uniqueness of the author, but by noticing the media substructures that support literary production, especially the distinctive features we uncover when considering print, performance, and broadcasting.

Prof. Koji Toba
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • modern Japanese literature
  • media industry
  • print industry
  • magazines
  • newspapers
  • cinema
  • literary films
  • radio dramas
  • television
  • internet
  • media mix

Published Papers (15 papers)

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Research

13 pages, 277 KiB  
Article
Intersections of Children’s Poetry, Popular Literature, and Mass Media: Fujimoto Giichi’s Adaptation of Holes in the Tin Roof like Stars from Tomo Fusako’s Poem to Radio Drama
by Koji Toba
Humanities 2023, 12(6), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/h12060128 - 1 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1635
Abstract
This paper investigates largely unexplored aspects of the postwar Japanese media industry by tracing the cross-media developments that bloomed from a single poem written by an elementary school girl. Tomo Fusako, a poor elementary school student, wrote the poem “Outage” in 1951 as [...] Read more.
This paper investigates largely unexplored aspects of the postwar Japanese media industry by tracing the cross-media developments that bloomed from a single poem written by an elementary school girl. Tomo Fusako, a poor elementary school student, wrote the poem “Outage” in 1951 as part of her schoolwork. Tomo’s teacher, Bessho Yasoji, selected Tomo’s work to be published in an original poetry journal featuring children’s writing. Her poems and essays were eventually reprinted in magazines, collected volumes, and even published in textbooks. In 1958, Fujimoto Giichi, an unknown university student at the time, adapted “Outage” into a radio drama and stage play. These works were then further adapted for TV dramas. Children’s essays and poems made for attractive content for the publishing industry and the emerging fields of commercial radio and television media. Fujimoto himself became a famous television host, though it impeded his literary career. Examining Tomo and Fujimoto’s relationship with literary production and media adaptation reveals a cultural world far removed from the literary establishment’s (that is, the bundan’s) view of literature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modern Japanese Literature and the Media Industry)
14 pages, 284 KiB  
Article
As Seen from the Camera Obscura: Haniya Yutaka’s Ontological Film Theory
by Naoki Yamamoto
Humanities 2023, 12(5), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/h12050105 - 21 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1192
Abstract
Haniya Yutaka (1909–1997) was one of the leading figures in postwar Japanese literature and avant-garde art movements, chiefly remembered today for his unfinished metaphysical novel Dead Souls [Shirei, 1946–1997]. This essay, however, examines his hitherto unknown theoretical writings on film. Haniya [...] Read more.
Haniya Yutaka (1909–1997) was one of the leading figures in postwar Japanese literature and avant-garde art movements, chiefly remembered today for his unfinished metaphysical novel Dead Souls [Shirei, 1946–1997]. This essay, however, examines his hitherto unknown theoretical writings on film. Haniya and other writers gathering around the literary magazine Kindai bungaku [Modern Literature, 1946–1964] shared a keen interest in film’s unparalleled importance in twentieth-century modernity. And their collective efforts to transgress conventional boundaries between literature and film culminated in the 1957 publication of the anthology entitled Literary Film Theory [Bungakuteki eigaron]. Above all, Haniya’s film writing was clearly distinguished for its tendency to explicate film’s paradoxical mode of existence philosophically, an approach that the film critic Matsuda Masao later called an “ontological film theory” [sonzaironteki eigaron]. Looking closely at his essays and interviews collected in Literary Film Theory and two other volumes on this topic—Thoughts in the Darkness [Yami no naka no shisō, 1962] and Dreaming in the Darkness [Yami no naka no musō, 1982]—the present essay reads Haniya’s theorization of cinema in relation to both Martin Heidegger’s existential phenomenology and recent scholarly debates on non-Western film theory. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modern Japanese Literature and the Media Industry)
18 pages, 2455 KiB  
Article
Making Capital of ‘Illegal’ Publication under Japanese Imperial Censorship: Publication Strategies of Senki (Battle Flag) around 1930
by Young Ran Ko, Nick Ogonek and Kyeong-Hee Choi
Humanities 2023, 12(5), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/h12050089 - 25 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1049
Abstract
Around 1930, the Japanese publishing market was restructured, and as part of this process, the colonial market emerged within the Japanese Empire. In an attempt to expand into the colonial market, publishers such as Kaizō-sha, Chūōkōron-sha, and Senki-sha competed among each other, producing [...] Read more.
Around 1930, the Japanese publishing market was restructured, and as part of this process, the colonial market emerged within the Japanese Empire. In an attempt to expand into the colonial market, publishers such as Kaizō-sha, Chūōkōron-sha, and Senki-sha competed among each other, producing ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ commodities related to socialism. This paper examines the circulation of illegal commodities such as the often-banned magazine Senki (Battle Flag), cross-reading them with internal documents from Senki-sha (Senki’s publisher) and NAPF (All-Japan Federation of Proletarian Arts), as well as with those from the Japanese Home Ministry and the Japanese Government-General in Korea. By doing so, the essay argues that the main actors of the socialist cultural movement around 1930 purposefully planned to capitalize on the ‘illegal’ nature of their commodities, while adopting a public stance of differentiation from commercial capital. Furthermore, by proposing that the publication of illegal commodities was in fact deeply imbricated with the movement of capital in the publishing market, this paper also reveals that Korean-language publications–notably, the magazine Uri tongmu (Our Comrades)–produced by socialists in the Japanese interior around 1930, ended up playing a role in undermining the reconstruction of socialism in Korea. For this reason, it is crucial to reconsider the prevailing narrative about the history of the Japanese socialist movement of the late 1920s and early 1930s, which often essentializes the connection between Japanese and Korean socialists as pure ideological solidarity, paying little attention to the complex movement of capital, legal and illegal, at work in the Japanese Empire around 1930. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modern Japanese Literature and the Media Industry)
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19 pages, 860 KiB  
Article
Communication and Violence in the Poetics of Terayama Shūji: From the Poetic to the Theatric
by Shunsuke Okada and Jason M. Beckman
Humanities 2023, 12(4), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/h12040074 - 31 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1168
Abstract
This article will focus on the theory of poetics Terayama Shūji develops in Postwar Poetry: The Absence of Ulysses (Sengoshi: yurishīzu no fuzai, 1965) and Language as Violence (Bōryoku toshite no gengo, 1970). Postwar Poetry, his first theoretical writings [...] Read more.
This article will focus on the theory of poetics Terayama Shūji develops in Postwar Poetry: The Absence of Ulysses (Sengoshi: yurishīzu no fuzai, 1965) and Language as Violence (Bōryoku toshite no gengo, 1970). Postwar Poetry, his first theoretical writings on prose poetry, can be said to be a book about the poetic communication and “discommunication”—a wasei-eigo coinage of Tsurumi Shunsuke’s that Terayama frequently invokes—that occurs in mass communication, stemming from the conflict with print (katsuji). In this book, Terayama develops not autonomous “monologue”, but a theory of the taiwa/dialogue of poetry. However, Language as Violence contains not only the taiwa (dialogue) of his early poetics but the problem of bōryoku (violence) in his later theatrical works and theory of theater, which becomes an important theme in his body of work. Comparing with Georges Sorel’s Réflexions sur la violence that he cited, I would like to examine the description of the book’s titualar violence. As I shed light on Terayama’s poetics and view of language, I will attempt to establish a connection with his plays and theory of theater. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modern Japanese Literature and the Media Industry)
19 pages, 1901 KiB  
Article
Letter Troubles: Rereading Futon in Conversation with Japan’s Epistolary Discourse
by Kevin Niehaus
Humanities 2023, 12(4), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/h12040057 - 29 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1162
Abstract
Scholarship on letters in modern Japanese literature typically describes their discursive transformation from objects of practical import to texts of literary significance in the late Meiji 30s and 40s, a transformation contemporaneous to and engendered by the sudden explosion of interest in autobiographical [...] Read more.
Scholarship on letters in modern Japanese literature typically describes their discursive transformation from objects of practical import to texts of literary significance in the late Meiji 30s and 40s, a transformation contemporaneous to and engendered by the sudden explosion of interest in autobiographical literary texts. Such an approach, however, unintentionally denigrates the complexity of late-Meiji era fiction’s negotiation with the epistolary discourse that flourished in this era. Seeking a broader engagement with this hitherto underexamined discourse, I take Tayama Katai’s (1872–1930) famous I-novel, The Quilt (1907), as a test case, arguing that the letters embedded there engage with the contemporary conversation on letters on four levels: content, linguistic style, subjectivity, and hermeneutics. I argue that, far from reaffirming the overlap between letters and literature, Katai’s text evinces a consistently oppositional stance toward contemporary epistolary dogma, problematizing, interrogating, and subverting it at every turn. I conclude by proposing that this defiant stance toward typical conceptualizations of the letter is common to other I-novels of the period, suggesting that the I-novel was only born through a conspicuous disavowal of the letter form. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modern Japanese Literature and the Media Industry)
15 pages, 295 KiB  
Article
Itsuki Hiroyuki’s Farewell to Moscow Misfits and Entertainment Strategies: Middlebrow Novels, Jazz Novels, and Repatriates
by Takayuki Nakane and Eric Siercks
Humanities 2023, 12(3), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/h12030053 - 20 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1059
Abstract
This paper addresses writer Itsuki Hiroyuki’s 1966 debut novel Farewell to Moscow Misfits through the lens of middlebrow novels, jazz novels, and repatriates. This novel draws from Itsuki’s personal experience being repatriated from colonial Korea after the war and visiting the Soviet Union [...] Read more.
This paper addresses writer Itsuki Hiroyuki’s 1966 debut novel Farewell to Moscow Misfits through the lens of middlebrow novels, jazz novels, and repatriates. This novel draws from Itsuki’s personal experience being repatriated from colonial Korea after the war and visiting the Soviet Union in the mid-1960s. Farewell was unique for its time in representing jazz, music, and youth “stilyagi” counterculture in the Soviet Union. This counterculture movement was roughly contemporaneous with the student movement of the 1960s in Japan. This period also saw the popularization of the “middlebrow novel”—an ambiguous term that was used to describe literature outside of the established pure/popular dichotomy. These amorphous “middlebrow” works allow us to read some of the cultural dynamics of the 1960s. Itsuki published many of his early works in so-called middlebrow magazines, not “pure” literary journals. Itsuki himself claimed that his works were neither pure literature nor popular literature; they were simply “entertainment”. He placed his works in relation to jazz, the circus, and enka. His unique views on cultural production and media emerged from his repatriation experiences and his encounter with Russian culture. This paper examines not only genre conventions in literature but also Itsuki’s objections to the pure/popular literary structure, as well as his place in cultural representations of the 1960s. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modern Japanese Literature and the Media Industry)
11 pages, 224 KiB  
Article
Anxious Apocalypse: Transmedia Science Fiction in Japan’s 1960s
by Brian White
Humanities 2023, 12(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/h12010015 - 22 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1832
Abstract
Science fiction (SF) developed as a self-identified genre in Japan in the 1950s and quickly underwent a boom in the 1960s. Throughout this period, SF literature, film, and television were tightly intertwined industries, sharing production personnel, textual tropes, and audiences. As these industries [...] Read more.
Science fiction (SF) developed as a self-identified genre in Japan in the 1950s and quickly underwent a boom in the 1960s. Throughout this period, SF literature, film, and television were tightly intertwined industries, sharing production personnel, textual tropes, and audiences. As these industries entered global circulation with the hope of finding recognition and success in the international SF community, however, they encountered the contradictions of the Cold War liberal cultural system under the US nuclear umbrella. Awareness of the discursive marginalization of Japanese SF in the Euro-American dominated global SF scene manifested in Japanese texts in the twin tropes of apocalypse and anxiety surrounding embodiment. Through a close reading of two SF films—The X from Outer Space (Uchū daikaijū Girara, 1967) and Genocide (Konchū daisensō, 1968), both directed by Nihonmatsu Kazui for Shochiku Studios—and Komatsu Sakyō’s 1964 SF disaster novel Virus: The Day of Resurrection (Fukkatsu no hi), I argue that, largely excluded from discursive belonging in the global community of SF producers and consumers, Japanese authors and directors responded with texts that wiped away the contemporary status quo in spectacular apocalypses, eschatological breaks that would allow a utopian global order, as imagined by Japanese SF, to take hold. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modern Japanese Literature and the Media Industry)
12 pages, 1448 KiB  
Article
Deciphering the Parrot’s Voice: Satō Haruo’s “Okāsan” (“Mother”) and Josei (Woman) Magazine
by Atsuko Nishikawa
Humanities 2023, 12(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/h12010014 - 20 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1582
Abstract
Satō Haruo’s “Okāsan” (“Mother”) is a story that was published in Josei (Woman) magazine in October 1926. The plot follows “I” as he listens to the words of the parrot he bought from the pet store and deduces and fantasizes freely [...] Read more.
Satō Haruo’s “Okāsan” (“Mother”) is a story that was published in Josei (Woman) magazine in October 1926. The plot follows “I” as he listens to the words of the parrot he bought from the pet store and deduces and fantasizes freely about her previous home. In this paper, I spotlight the fact that the home that “I” envisions through the voice of the parrot, Laura, corresponds to the family image that was being presented concurrently in Josei magazine and showcased that the ideal family was simply nothing more than an ideal. In relativizing Josei’s familial discourse, and in this relationship between the published magazine and the story, I argue for the latter’s importance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modern Japanese Literature and the Media Industry)
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17 pages, 282 KiB  
Article
“Readers” and “Writers” in Japanese Detective Fiction, 1920s–30s: Tracing Shifts from Edogawa Rampo’s “Beast in the Shadows” to The Demon of the Lonely Isle
by Shoko Komatsu and Eric Siercks
Humanities 2023, 12(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/h12010012 - 18 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2443
Abstract
This paper explores the shifting position of “readers” and “writers” within serialized works by Japanese detective fiction author Edogawa Rampo. The essay focuses on two works published at the end of the 1920s and early 1930s: the novella “Beast in the Shadows” and [...] Read more.
This paper explores the shifting position of “readers” and “writers” within serialized works by Japanese detective fiction author Edogawa Rampo. The essay focuses on two works published at the end of the 1920s and early 1930s: the novella “Beast in the Shadows” and Edogawa’s first long-form serialized novel, The Demon of the Lonely Isle. By examining the kinds of magazines in which Edogawa published, as well as the expected readership of those magazines, we discover several important stylistic shifts in Edogawa’s writing as he transitions from being a genre fiction short story writer to an author of popular novels. In Edogawa’s short detective fiction for niche magazines, the position of the reader and writer overlap, mirroring the way readers of detective fiction magazines often became writers themselves. Edogawa parodies his simultaneous position as dedicated reader and writer of detective novels. Moving to popular magazines and long-form fiction causes those self-parodies to shift into the background. Edogawa severs the correlative or dual position of writer/reader in favor of a detached “author” and consuming “reader”. This paper explores the genesis of this change in relation to the development of magazine media in modern Japan. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modern Japanese Literature and the Media Industry)
11 pages, 756 KiB  
Article
Representing the Silk Road: Literature and Images between China and Japan during the Cold War
by Zhixi Yin
Humanities 2023, 12(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/h12010004 - 21 Dec 2022
Viewed by 1755
Abstract
The essay focused on the TV documentary series The Silk Road and discussed the significance of this co-production between China and Japan. Two television stations, NHK and CCTV, provided each other with technical support to create a new image of the Silk Road [...] Read more.
The essay focused on the TV documentary series The Silk Road and discussed the significance of this co-production between China and Japan. Two television stations, NHK and CCTV, provided each other with technical support to create a new image of the Silk Road in 1980. They attempted to rediscover the cultural relationship in Asia. Japanese Oriental studies were either the base for this co-production or the source of trouble. CCTV needed to utilize and overcome Japanese technology and the resources from Oriental studies, to represent national culture and identity through images. On the other hand, Japan once again sought ways to represent the Asian “others.” However, the challenge was making it relative to Orientalism and imperialism. This essay also compares the two versions and suggests that both ancient Asian cultural histories that they represented through images reflected the contemporaneous political situation of the Cold War. In CCTV’s version, the images of the Silk Road became a symbol of the re-establishment of China’s national identity, including the imagination of a “multi-ethnic state” and a “community of cultural memory that unites East and West”. Furthermore, this version also represented the trade with neighboring states. Each of these elements had a realistic role in the political environment of 1980. On the other hand, NHK’s version contains a narrative to prove Japan is the last stop on the Silk Road. Moreover, before this documentary, Japanese literature had long sought the “unknown” of the Silk Road and became a strong intellectual foundation for The Silk Road. The narrative of Japan “being a part of the Silk Road, but unlike in colonialism, as a traveler” is what Yasushi Inoue repeatedly expressed in his literary works and appeared to have been passed on through the images of the documentary. Carrying the negative legacy of Japanese imperialism, then being caught between the United States and the Socialist bloc, and having a difficult choice of political identity, Japanese intellectuals refrained from expressing their political positions and chose to describe cultural history from the “traveler’s” perspective. This essay suggests this is an attempt to redefine Japan on the cultural map of Asia and indirectly to break through the polarization of capitalism and socialism in the Cold War. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modern Japanese Literature and the Media Industry)
11 pages, 1021 KiB  
Article
Anti-Bourgeois Media in the Japanese Proletarian Literary Movement
by Takashi Wada
Humanities 2022, 11(6), 160; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11060160 - 15 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2016
Abstract
The Marxist and socialist ideas that spread throughout the world following the Russian Revolution of 1917 were also influential in bringing about changes in art and culture. Proletarian literature, which flourished in Japan in the 1920s and 1930s, was one such example. However, [...] Read more.
The Marxist and socialist ideas that spread throughout the world following the Russian Revolution of 1917 were also influential in bringing about changes in art and culture. Proletarian literature, which flourished in Japan in the 1920s and 1930s, was one such example. However, due to Japan’s particular historical circumstances, Japanese proletarian literature was in an ambivalent position between revolutionary literature by left-wing intellectuals and proletarian literature by and for the proletarian class in the pure sense. This article examines the chaos and friction implied by the term “proletarian” from three perspectives: the relationship between proletarian media and bourgeois media, the media distribution system, and the boundary between writers and readers. Through this examination, it clarifies that the approaches of Japanese proletarian media, while imitating bourgeois media to some extent, were unique in their potential to transform the boundary between writers and readers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modern Japanese Literature and the Media Industry)
13 pages, 4128 KiB  
Article
The Japanese-Language Newspaper Novel Abroad
by Edward Mack
Humanities 2022, 11(6), 158; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11060158 - 13 Dec 2022
Viewed by 2117
Abstract
This article presents initial findings about the history of the publication of serialized novels in Japanese-language newspapers published in North and South America. An under-studied publishing venue for literature to begin with, even less is known about the serialization of novels in these [...] Read more.
This article presents initial findings about the history of the publication of serialized novels in Japanese-language newspapers published in North and South America. An under-studied publishing venue for literature to begin with, even less is known about the serialization of novels in these diasporic communities despite them being the most widely circulated fiction. Focusing on what can be reconstructed of the history of these works and their publication, this study focuses on five newspapers and their serialized novels during the 1930s, with a particular focus on the novel Constellations Ablaze by Ozaki Shirō and the lesser-known author Nakagawa Amenosuke. This preliminary survey suggests an industry that navigated international copyright law, reader’s tastes, and the interconnection of different local readerships. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modern Japanese Literature and the Media Industry)
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9 pages, 239 KiB  
Article
All That Is Solid Turns into Sand: Woman in the Dunes across Page and Screen
by Xinyi Zhao
Humanities 2022, 11(6), 144; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11060144 - 17 Nov 2022
Viewed by 1894
Abstract
This paper attempts a close study of Abe Kobo’s novel Woman in the Dunes and its screen adaptation (dir. Teshigahara Hiroshi 1964). Engaging adaptation studies, media studies, and sound studies, this paper moves from the conventional focus on the linear transfer of text [...] Read more.
This paper attempts a close study of Abe Kobo’s novel Woman in the Dunes and its screen adaptation (dir. Teshigahara Hiroshi 1964). Engaging adaptation studies, media studies, and sound studies, this paper moves from the conventional focus on the linear transfer of text from a source to a result, to examine adaptation as a multilevel, multisensory, and multidirectional process of remediation. By mediating documentary cinema and avant-garde tradition, the filmic adaptation, as the paper argues, not only provokes and enhances its literary original, but also illuminates existentialist concerns that gained critical currency in the 1960s. The paper moves on to analyze Takemitsu Toru’s score in relation to Teshigahara’s surrealist imagery; in doing so, it elucidates the way the film gives the sand a form of human agency alluded to yet not fully realized in Abe’s novel. Scrutiny of Abe and Takemitsu’s early years in Japan-occupied Manchuria further connects Abe’s work to the issue of postcolonial identity while opening Woman in the Dunes to more interpretative possibilities as an I-Novel. Through mediating collective history and personal memory, adaptation opens a dialogic intersubjective horizon where questions of identity and affect intersect in the post-war media environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modern Japanese Literature and the Media Industry)
26 pages, 629 KiB  
Article
A Sign of Good Taste: Mori Ōgai, Mitsukoshi, and the Concept of Shumi
by Jurriaan van der Meer
Humanities 2022, 11(6), 131; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11060131 - 26 Oct 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2228
Abstract
This paper attempts to situate the notion of shumi as a rhetorical device used by modern Japanese department stores as part of their marketing strategies. Although often equated with the concept of ‘taste’, I demonstrate how shumi both overlaps with and differs from [...] Read more.
This paper attempts to situate the notion of shumi as a rhetorical device used by modern Japanese department stores as part of their marketing strategies. Although often equated with the concept of ‘taste’, I demonstrate how shumi both overlaps with and differs from the concept of taste, as it is often discussed in critical theory in the context of consumerism. I do this by examining how shumi was used in the PR-magazines of various department stores and other related forms of print media. Special attention is paid to the PR-magazine of Mitsukoshi, which is perhaps the most innovative department store in modern Japanese history. Subsequently, I analyze three short stories by Mori Ōgai (1862–1922) published in Mitsukoshi’s PR-magazine between 1911 and 1912. Mitsukoshi printed short stories by acclaimed authors in their magazines, mostly as a form of lighthearted entertainment and branding. Yet, when read closely, Ōgai’s three stories also form a profound observation of the skewed moral reality of a market-driven economy. Each of the narratives under scrutiny in this paper shows the human cost of a system in which social relations are dictated by consumer objects. The cultivation of the urge to consume was carefully framed around the rhetoric of shumi and was thus not merely a marketing tool to increase profit margins but also a mechanism to manipulate the desires and anxieties of consumers. A reading of Ōgai’s three short narratives reveals the ambivalent morality produced by the rhetoric of shumi, which in turn engendered and validated the identities of an emerging middle class through the consumable object-as-sign. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modern Japanese Literature and the Media Industry)
20 pages, 1257 KiB  
Article
Script and Language as Semiotic Media in Japanese Storytelling: A Theoretical Approach through Haruki Murakami’s Noruwei no mori
by Jacob Wayne Runner
Humanities 2022, 11(5), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11050106 - 28 Aug 2022
Viewed by 2749
Abstract
In contrast to the writing practices of many modern languages, Japanese routinely employs four denotative systems that operate in conjunction, but which are actively recognized as distinct from one another: kanji, hiragana, katakana, and the Roman alphabet. Simultaneously, English, as [...] Read more.
In contrast to the writing practices of many modern languages, Japanese routinely employs four denotative systems that operate in conjunction, but which are actively recognized as distinct from one another: kanji, hiragana, katakana, and the Roman alphabet. Simultaneously, English, as well as English-derived language usages have been noted for their significant intralinguistic roles in Japanese, going far beyond straightforward loan borrowing functionality. Convention informs the implementations of both script choice and language, and yet neither subjective phenomenon is perfectly uniform. Approaching these issues from a perspective of semiotic theory, this article identifies the flexibility and creative syncretism that is made available by virtue of written Japanese’s systemic open-endedness in terms of script and linguistic multiplicity. It assesses the emblematic functionality that is achievable through deliberate variation or shift in these semiotic media of print, and it demonstrates how auxiliary associative, ideological, and emotive meanings are ascribed to specific language instances. Finally, as an applied literary analysis, it evaluates Haruki Murakami’s 1987 novel 『ノルウェイの森』 (Noruwei no mori; Norwegian Wood) in order to clarify prominent semiotic possibilities and to emphasize the easily taken for granted creative aesthetic potential of Japanese’s media-based multiplicity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modern Japanese Literature and the Media Industry)
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