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Kabuki's Forgotten War, 1931-1945


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Publisher Comments:

According to a myth constructed after Japan's surrender to the Allied Forces in 1945, kabuki was a pure, classical art form with no real place in modern Japanese society. In Kabuki's Forgotten War, senior theater scholar James R. Brandon calls this view into question and makes a compelling case that, up to the very end of the Pacific War, kabuki was a living theater and, as an institution, an active participant in contemporary events, rising and falling in consonance with Japan's imperial adventures. Drawing extensively from Japanese sources--books, newspapers, magazines, war reports, speeches, scripts, and diaries--Brandon shows that kabuki played an important role in Japan's Fifteen-Year Sacred War. He reveals, for example, that kabuki stars raised funds to buy fighter and bomber aircraft for the imperial forces and that producers arranged large-scale tours for kabuki troupes to entertain soldiers stationed in Manchuria, China, and Korea. Kabuki playwrights contributed no less than 160 new plays that dramatized frontline battles or rewrote history to propagate imperial ideology. Abridged by censors, molded by the Bureau of Information, and partially incorporated into the League of Touring Theaters, kabuki reached new audiences as it expanded along with the new Japanese empire. By the end of the war, however, it had fallen from government favor and in 1944-1946 it nearly expired when Japanese government decrees banished leading kabuki companies to minor urban theaters and the countryside. Kabuki's Forgotten War includes more than a hundred illustrations, many of which have never been published in an English-language work. It is nothing less than a complete revision of kabuki's recenthistory and as such goes beyond correcting a significant misconception. This new study remedies a historical absence that has distorted our understanding of Japan's imperial enterprise and its aftermath.

Book News Annotation:

Drawing on extensive research of Japanese books, newspapers, magazine articles, war reports, speeches, performance reviews, play scripts, and diaries produced during Japan's "Fifteen-Year War", Brandon (Asian theater, U. of Hawai'i) explores the question of when contemporary subject matter left the kabuki stage. A myth constructed after Japan's surrender to the Allied forces in 1945 suggested that kabuki plays of the time were wholly classical works lacking connection to mid-1940's Japanese society. But Brandon finds that kabuki theater drew from Japan's wartime adventures between 1931 and 1945; kabuki war plays were the subject of illustrated postcards printed, sold, and mailed everywhere throughout Japan during the war years. The kabuki repertory became "classic" only after the war was lost, partly in response to the arrival of the American occupiers and Occupation theater censors. For students and scholars of Japanese theater and history. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

Brandon, James R.
University of Hawaii Press
World war, 1939-1945
Theater - History & Criticism
Kabuki -- History -- 20th century.
War and theater - Japan - History -
Drama -- History and criticism.
Publication Date:
9.30x6.20x1.30 in. 2.05 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Asia and Far East
Arts and Entertainment » Art » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Drama » History and Criticism

Kabuki's Forgotten War, 1931-1945 New Hardcover
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Product details 465 pages University of Hawaii Press - English 9780824832001 Reviews:
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