Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Witness to Edo History

Detail from " 'The Great Oriental Circus Act, Otake Girls' Troupe' (1916)
Although traditional acts of the Edo period were continued,
Japanese acrobatics by the Taisho period (1912-26)
closely resembled the Western circus."

Scene from the Ooishi Hyoroku Monogatari picture scroll ~1784.

"Folding Screen Depicting Scenes of the Attendance of Daimyo at Edo Castle" 1847

The National Museum of Japanese History issue a bimonthly magazine called Rekihaku. At their website they have an index of the last 32 issues (including last month) from which sample A Witness To History essays are presented. These recent-modern history articles are in english and are well researched but very readable. They are of course designed around the eclectic exhibits from the museum.

By way of examples, these are links to articles about: secret books on the art of gunnery; the Hina doll festival held since the early 1600s; Japanese poetry through the ages; details of a funeral from 1911; early Japanese circus/acrobatic team touring overseas; folding screen depictions of feudal lords attending Edo castle and on and on ---- all with pictures of rare books, ceramics, screenprints, clothes, manuscripts, posters and other relevant material. This is an excellent resource for anyone who has even a half interest in history or Japan. It is esoteric, quirky and historically significant material.

For each magazine there is an additional one page series of images relating to the cover. Also note that the essay link in the earlier issues is adjacent to the magazine title entry.


Anonymous said...

The whole lot is lovely, more please!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post - thanks for the review of the essay collection. And congrats on your CLIO award!

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