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Help with researching influence of Yoshikawa's Musashi

 
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FuRinKaZan
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2014 4:39 pm    Post subject: Help with researching influence of Yoshikawa's Musashi Reply with quote
I am currently looking for my research as part of my PhD in Japanese history writings in English or Japanese on Musashi in popular Japanese literary and cinema culture. Unfortunately I have run into a bit of a rut.

I've spent quite a few weeks looking through JSTOR, WorldCat, CINII, other sources for analysis and criticism of Yoshikawa Eiji's novel and the numerous films made on Musashi since the 1930s. I have been shocked by the utter lack of English scholarly examination of the influence of the Yoshikawa Eiji interpretation of Musashi in modern Japanese culture, or for that matter, in Japanese as well. So, I was wondering if anyone here might know of any works off the top of their head or could lead me in a certain direction that might assist me in my research. Your input is greatly appreciated!
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行く川の流れは絶えずしてしかも元の水にあらず。淀みに浮かぶうたかたはかつ消えかつ結びて、久しからず留まりたる例なし。この世の中にある人とすみかとまたかくの如し。
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Tatsunoshi
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2014 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I believe that Shambhala’s “Musashi: His Life and Writings” has a bit about the influence of the novel (although I don’t have the book handy to check). Other than that, can’t think of anything. The lack of scholarly English sources on the influence of the novel shouldn’t be surprising as there’s basically no scholarly English sources on Musashi, period. There isn’t a lot of documentation for him aside from ‘Book of Five Rings’ (which is mainly a philosophical text, albeit it with some autobiographical information, and who knows how much of that is true and how much is inflated chest thumping?). The lack of good primary sources has discouraged academia, and serious period scholars consider Musashi just a minor footnote to the point where the six volume Cambridge History of Japan doesn’t mention him a single time. Everything else written on Musashi is basically pop culture stuff that accepts the Yoshikawa novel as the real history and doesn’t realize that it has shaped the modern image of Musashi (as virtually every Musashi film is an adaptation of it). It’s only in the last few years that Japanese scholars have begun to dig seriously into the Musashi myths, and it’s going to take this information even longer to find its way into Western scholarship-and for all intents and purposes, the pop culture world will ignore them (this is all pretty much the same path trodden by the 47 Ronin myth...puppet play becomes accepted history, serious scholarship slowly uncovers the truth, pop culture ignores it because it wants the myth to be true). There’s no doubt that the Yoshikawa novel was a tremendous influence-THE single influence-that made Musashi the model of what the popular image of the lone Japanese swordsman was. Talk to older people in Japan (like my mother-and-father-in-law) and they’ll tell you before the newspaper serial/novel, Musashi was known for his carvings and artwork-as a swordsman, he was just one of hundreds of itinerant swordsmen who wrote treatises. But even in Japan, there virtually nothing written on the Yoshikawa novel's influence because it BECAME the accepted version of history (much like there’s very little written about the influence of the play ‘Chushingura’ on the 47 Ronin myth, because most everyone just accepts it AS the history in the first place-a work that reflected and recorded the event rather than one that shaped its perception by the masses). I wish you luck in finding some sources, because the resulting project will make for interesting reading.
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FuRinKaZan
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thank you so much for your reply! I absolutely appreciate what you were able to share.

It is amazing, I think, that in the wake of the Musashi novel's release in English in 1986 there remains so little critical analysis written on the mythos of the story. As you pointed out, Yoshikawa's version of Musashi reappears in almost every popular retelling of the story in Japan and outside of Japan. Of course, most of his famous duels are suspect, but Yoshikawa's version of events holds such a firm grip over the imagination of so many Japanese and Western kendo and samurai enthusiasts that it is unfathomable why so few scholars have decided to write about the influence of Yoshikawa's novel on shaping Japanese and Western stereotypical images of who the "ideal" samurai was. This project is for a seminar, so the paper will be only article length. But I hope to look at the guiding influences behind Yoshikawa's writing, as well as the imagery of idealized masculinity and samurai figures in both the novel, as well as the 1950s Musashi film trilogy which even won an American academy award.
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行く川の流れは絶えずしてしかも元の水にあらず。淀みに浮かぶうたかたはかつ消えかつ結びて、久しからず留まりたる例なし。この世の中にある人とすみかとまたかくの如し。
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