Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Japan, themes, kabuki theater, Edo Period, fox
Stories of the supernatural are a rich part of Japan’s cultural history, and one way to explore the popularity of these tales is through the widely produced visual medium of Ukiyo-e prints. By the eighteenth century, kabuki theatre became a dominant theme in Ukiyo-e, and kabuki plays provide a way to access diverse folk traditions involving the supernatural, often based on Shinto beliefs or Buddhist principles. Confucian values, at the core of Edo Period society, commonly frame these subjects in contrast to traditional familial relationships. Using the visual language of the stage, moments of dramatic climax in kabuki are emphasized by mie, which naturally lent to the style of Ukiyo-e actor prints. The term Ukiyo-e, associated with the “the floating world,” is a concept which depicts everyday life in Edo Japan as ephemeral and impermanant. A strong connection between the supernatural and the uncertainty of the Edo Period experience can be made through the interpretation of characters in kabuki plays; one such iconic character is fox-Kuzunoha – a fox in female form – known for her role in the popular Edo Period play A Courtly Mirror of Ashiya Dōman. Ukiyo-e prints offer important evidence to understand Edo culture and in this analysis I will explain Kuzunoha’s popularity in print form: from the kabuki stage, to the publishing industry, to the consumer. My goal is to reveal the significance of fox-Kuzunoha’s supernatural identity as it relates to women in mid-nineteenth century Japan.
Jefts, Kara, "Fox-Kuzunoha: The Actor Print and the Expression of Female as 'Other' in the Late Edo Period" (2012). Honors Theses. 835.