Linguistics and Literature Studies Vol. 2(7), pp. 206 - 210
DOI: 10.13189/lls.2014.020705
Reprint (PDF) (544Kb)

Meiji Japanese Shakespeare as a Source of Wisdom

Ayami Oki-Siekierczak *
Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan


Japan absorbed Shakespeare into its culture when there was a sudden influx of western culture into the country after Japan emerged from its period of isolation. Even after the closure of the country came to the end, the legacy of feudal Edo (1603-1868), Japan remained in its culture. Westernisation was equal to modernisation to Japanese at that time, and Shakespeare's works were thought to be books to teach people. The Victorian Shakespeare (modified according to the taste of its readers and audience in addition to the morality of the time) imported to Japan was suitable for the social trend, and the bard himself was treated as a source of wisdom. This paper explores the context of adapting Shakespeare into Japanese culture at the early stage since 1880s, and examines how Shakespeare and his works were treated. The very early Japanese translations were heavily influenced by the way Shakespeare's works were received in Victorian England, the cultural legacy of the Edo period, and the prevalent trend in Japan of admiring the West and combining Japanese and Western cultural elements. In other words, the ‘proper' Shakespeare by Victorian norms was presented to Japan, where he was idolized as an embodiment of Western wisdom. Definitions of the Bard in Japanese stories of heroes, books on drama history, and dictionaries of biography are analysed in this paper. Through the exploration, the paper concludes that Shakespeare was regarded as a source of wisdom in the early Shakespeare reception in Japan.

Shakespeare, Meiji Japan, Adaptation

Cite This Paper in IEEE or APA Citation Styles
(a). IEEE Format:
[1] Ayami Oki-Siekierczak , "Meiji Japanese Shakespeare as a Source of Wisdom," Linguistics and Literature Studies, Vol. 2, No. 7, pp. 206 - 210, 2014. DOI: 10.13189/lls.2014.020705.

(b). APA Format:
Ayami Oki-Siekierczak (2014). Meiji Japanese Shakespeare as a Source of Wisdom. Linguistics and Literature Studies, 2(7), 206 - 210. DOI: 10.13189/lls.2014.020705.