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Unformatted text preview: her type of new play was the katsureki or
“living history,” created after the rise of the people’s rights movement in
the 1870s. In the politically conscious atmosphere of the times, these
plays represented an effort to stage realistic historical drama rather than
the fancifully distorted quasi-history of earlier kabuki.
An even more significant innovation to emerge from the political ferment of the second and third decades of the Meiji period was shimpa or
the “new school” of theatre, whose founders were actual participants in
the political party movement. Chief among them was Kawakami Otojirò
(1864–1911), a former kabuki actor and fervid political liberal of the day.
Using current events and material from recently written political novels
(including the Strange Encounters of Elegant Females discussed above),
Kawakami attempted to present plays of topical interest, which he further enlivened with special sound and lighting effects. The war with China
in the mid-1890s provided a particularly fine opportunity for Kawakami, who was able to capitalize on heightened patriotic feelings by staging shimpa extravaganzas dealing with the fighting then in progress on
the continent. 10 The Fruits of Modernity Japan went to war with China in 1894–95 over the issue, to put it
euphemistically, of Korean independence. Korea had traditionally been
tributary to China, a relationship that gave the Chinese a kind of protectorate over the foreign affairs of the peninsular, “hermit” kingdom. Victorious in 1895, Japan received, among other rewards, the colonial possessions of Taiwan and the Pescadore Islands. Moreover, by fully exposing
the weakness and ineptitude of the Manchu government, it helped precipitate an odious round of concession grabbing by the powers in China
during the late 1890s that has been described as “the carving of the
melon.” The country that took the largest slice of the melon was Russia,
whose increasing assertiveness from this time on in northeast Asia led to
a serious clash of interests and, finally, war with Japan. In its s...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13