Tokugawa period also known as Edo period marks the ascendency of Tokugawa Ieyasu by defeating his rivals in the battle of Sekigahara in 1600 and fall of his legacy in 1868 with the emperor Meiji’s capturing of power from the last of the Shougun. This paper tells about religion and strongly examine the cultural aspect of Tokugawa period. …
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In fact, there had been no hiatus between high class and lower class cultures (Ng). Further I Ching scholarship which had achieved its highest status during the Tokugawa period and its aspects of yin-yang wu-hsing had also impacted on Tokugawa’s cultural aspects. The flower arrangement popularly known as Kado or Ikebana traceable to pre-Tokugawa period namely Kamakura period (1186-1336) had developed as a Buddhist art. It had been associated with nemustu (chanting to Amida Buddha) and renga (linked poetry) during the Muromachi period (1392 -1573). It came closer to chanoyu during the sixteenth century. The flower arrangement had been the most popular during the Tokugawa period. The yin-yang wu-hsing principle representing harmony of the universe was depicted in the flower arrangement relating to I Ching concepts of yin-yang, san-ts’ai associated with the three powers of heaven, earth, and man, and wu-hsing. The flower arrangement with three divisions was symbolic of heaven, earth and man (Ng). Thus, the religions were the roots of Japanese culture and Tokugawa was no exception. Now the broad aspects of Tokugawa’s culture having been briefly examined, this paper will narrow down its research of Japanese Tokugawa’s culture to Theatrical forms (Kabuki) in the following pages. Kabuki Kabuki is depicted by the three Japanese characteristics referring to ‘dance, music and craft or skill’ as depicted below. Figure 1. (Source: creative-arts.net). Originally Kabuki was associated with “tilted” or “out of balance” characters depicted as ‘exotic’, racy, or debauched’. Though its origin comes from temple dance, Kabuki’s earlier recorded history shows much of its association with...
The period between the ascendancy and the fall was the period of isolation of Japan from the rest of the world. The 268 years under the spell of Tokugawa clan had been characterized as ‘static political, social and cultural life’. Family structure, political structure and social class structure along with many values and ideas remained constant during the 268 years of Tokugawa rule. During this period, Buddhism and Confucianism had been rejected. The native religion Shinto re-emerged.
The culture of Tokugawa period is indeed overwhelming with the Kabuki players surviving the period of seclusion and rigors of Tokugawa’s clans over more than two and a half centuries. The seemingly vulgar culture alleged to have been portrayed by Kabuki plays actually had been well intended as revealed in the above account of Nishiyama and Groemer. Otherwise, they would not have survived.
The popularity of Kabuki amongst the lower classes had its own repercussions. The crowds gathering at the performance places often used to turn boisterous that Shougun had to ban the actors and dancers from towns and permitted them to perform only at the remote places close “ pleasure quarters” in 1608. Kabuki’s early history shows that there had been links between such places of entertainment and theater as a source of entertainment at the places of pleasure for the common man popularly known as ukiyo (floating world). The actors of Kabuki Theater were social outcasts and theater managers were kawara kijiki (riverbed beggars) until 19th century when the actors were accorded the status of artists.
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