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Book Recommendation - 團十郎の歌舞伎案内

 
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 11:12 am    Post subject: Book Recommendation - 團十郎の歌舞伎案内 Reply with quote

This book, adapted from a series of lectures given by Ichikawa Danjuro at Aoyama Gakuin in 2007, was a gift to me from one of my Japanese language teachers during my time in Yokohama in 2007-08.

I am still gradually, slowly, making my way through the book, but I must say I am enjoying it very much, and cannot recommend it strongly enough if you have an interest in kabuki and can read Japanese.

The language is not particularly difficult at all, provided you know a lot of the kabuki specialty jargon; outside of those kabuki-specific words, the overall level of difficulty of the phrasing used is fairly moderate, and is not academic/scholarly-level difficult, at all.

Divided into three sections, Danjuro first relates the history of kabuki through the lens of the generations of his predecessors in bearing the name. The second section covers various aspects of performance and the art of kabuki, and the third section focuses on a select number of plays.

I'm still making my way through it, but thus far the book definitely contains lots of interesting factoids, anecdotes, and other elements I've never seen before; and lots of wonderful photos besides.

Plus, if you happen to be in Japan, or can otherwise manage to pay normal Japanese cover price, rather than the absurd import prices they charge at most Japanese book stores overseas, it's only 740 yen - an extremely reasonable price given that every book on kabuki in English is at least US$15-20 cover price.
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Wow, this post has really attracted a lot of attention.

I guess the epic swordfights, colorful costumes, and bold characters of kabuki just aren't as cool as those in samurai films.

In any case, I've finally finished this book, and found it to be quite interesting, a relatively easy and very enjoyable read. It's chock full of details, facts, stories I haven't seen in other books, so I'm hoping at some point in the near future to start pulling from it to contribute to the Wiki on the history of makeup, history of dance, influence of the shamisen on Japanese performing arts, on the bios of the individual Danjuros, and on various plays highlighted in the back of the book.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The not being able to read Japanese would seem to be a hindrance for me (and probably many others).
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I can't really speak to the actual topic, but this series of books is very high quality, sort of the "Criterion Collection" of Japanese history/culture books. I have a few on other subjects and they are top-notch.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I have seen the book at the San Diego Book-Off branch. Another book on the must read list.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'm more into Noh, myself. Wink
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I find Noh extremely interesting to read about and think about - all the deeper significances, the symbolism, the dream-like quality of the performance, the ties to Buddhism, and so much more - but the actual performances themselves put me to sleep.

I have a friend who actually practices Noh, and she too says that it can be really hard to stay awake sometimes when watching others perform.
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