Episode 413 – Between Real and Unreal

This week, we’re looking at the legacy of Chikamatsu Monzaemon, the most famous playwright in Japanese history. During his career, which spanned the zenith of Japan’s Edo period, he produced some 130 plays and was enormously influential in terms of his approach to drama. How did he do it, and what is his legacy for Japan today?


Ueda, Makoto. “Chikamatsu and His Ideas on Drama.” Educational Theater Journal Vol 12, No 2 (May, 1960).

Shirane, Haruo, ed. Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology.

Keene, Donald. Four Plays by Chikamatsu

Kamei, Hideo. Transformations of Sensibility: The Phenomenology of Meiji Literature

Bolton, Christopher. Interpreting Anime.


Tokubei and his lover Ohatsu in a 1984 performance of the Love Suicides at Sonezaki. From Columbia’s Barbara Curtis Adachi Bunraku Collection.
Chikamatsu’s gravestone.
A poster for the 1978 film version of the Love Suicides at Sonezaki–Chikamatsu’s stories, like Shakespeare’s, remain well known today.
Kawarazaki Gonjuro I as Watonai (right) in an advertisement for an early Meiji performance of Battles of Koxinga.
Ichikawa Komazo VII as Watonai in an early 20th century performance of The Battles of Koxinga.
The poster for Mizoguchi Kenji’s Chikamatsu Monogatari (A Story of Chikamatsu), which adapts another Chikamatsu play (Daikyoji Mukashi Goyomi).



1 thought on “Episode 413 – Between Real and Unreal”

Comments are closed.