Volume 9, Jun 2018

Table of Contents


Special Topic


Yone Noguchi’s Introduction of Noh and Kyogen to the West and East

Author Madoka HORI
Keywords Yone Noguchi, Noh, Kyogen, Gordon Craig, W. B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, The Mask, Japonisme, Modernism

Explanatory Note

This paper explores the international impact of Yone Noguchi’s commentaries on Noh during the transition into the 20th century. Yone Noguchi was internationally renowned for his poems written in English during this period. The paper introduces the contents and timings of Noguchi’s communications abroad and studies his interactions with Yeats, Pound and Gordon Craig, delving into the relationships and commonalities found between their works and Noguchi’s interests.

Read more

This translated paper is based on the article, “Yone Noguchi’s Introduction of Noh and Gordon Craig’s journal The Mask [Noguchi Yonejiro no Noh no shōkai to, Gōdon Kureigu no zasshi Masuku]” (Feb. 2013). At the same time, the paper also introduces an outline of a segment from “An Introduction to Kyogen and Noh,” included in Chapter 6 Section 4 (pp. 162-177) of the book, Yone Noguchi: A Writer of “Dual Nationality” [“Nijūkokuseki shijin” Noguchi Yonejiro] (Feb. 2012).

I have been working on this reevaluation of Yone Noguchi for many years. My work has involved a reinvestigation of Yone Noguchi’s activities and entire lifetime – including the wartime – from an international perspective. This work prompts an extremely important reinvestigation of conventional historical studies on modern Japanese literature and 20th century cultural interaction and intellectual exchange, and suggests the possible emergence of new theories.

When my book, Yone Noguchi: A Writer of “Dual Nationality” (2012), was awarded the 34th Suntory Prize, the theater critic Yoshio Ōzasa (1941- ) wrote the following:

“One of the keywords (of west book) is Symbolism as a type of Modernism, and it is this trend that guides or supports Noguchi’s activities in the West as well as in Japan. The author depicts the spread of these activities and their influence using research that includes new documents; what is surprising for me is the widespread variety of Japanese culture that Noguchi introduced to the world after he earned his fame as a poet, covering diverse fields from Edo era literature, centered on Bashō, to the arts including Ukiyoe and Noh/Kyogen. What I was most intrigued by was the author’s elucidation of the “fact” that, unlike the common view that Noh was introduced to the West through Fenollosa → Yeats → Pound, Noguchi and Yeats’ friendship predated this flow. The same kind of surprise came with the controversy surrounding India’s great poet Tagore and the Sino-Japanese War as well as the interpretation of Noguchi’s war poetry. In other words, new perspectives are scattered throughout this book. Not only does it present a certain goal, but it includes many hints for future research on the topic. These two ends are a large feature of this book as well as one of its greatest outputs.”1

This article concerning “Noh” has attracted widespread attention since its publishing in 2013. New discussions and research on Yone Noguchi and Craig have actually been advanced thereafter, including papers such as Yoko Yamaguchi’s “Edward Gordon Craig and Bunraku” and “Edward Gordon Craig and Yone Noguchi” in 2015. In the latter, Yamaguchi presents the entire text of Noguchi’s two letters to Craig (dated April 26, 1921 and September 17, 1922) found in the collections of the Bibliothèque nationale de France and ascertains that a cutout of Noguchi’s review published in the journal The Graphic was present within Craig’s collection. This, in other words, proved that Craig had referenced Noguchi’s article. There is thus a gradual but undeniable analysis being developed on Yone Noguchi’s connections and cultural exchange. Interdisciplinary research that explores Noguchi’s cultural interactions will surely continue to flourish in the future.

In short, this paper, which suggests the relationship between the 20th century Modernist arts and Yone Noguchi’s introduction of Noh, has drawn attention from researchers not only in the field of literature, but in a wide variety of specialties throughout Japan. I anticipate that this English translation will lay the grounds for further discussions that will contribute to the development of future comparative cultural studies.

  1. From the Suntory Prize for Social Sciences and Humanities (Arts and Literature) selector’s commentary, Dec. 2012, http://www.suntory.co.jp/sfnd/prize_ssah/detail/2012005.html.

Special Topic


The Power of the Water System: Towards a Global History of the Water Closet

Author Frank UEKÖTTER
Keywords anitation, public health, urban history, sewage farms, water history


The water closet is a modern essential. Cities all over the world seek to provide people with a private restroom that is connected to an underground sewer system. But while water closets are taken for granted, they hinge on a complex technological system that required enormous investments, particularly for underground water pipes and sewers and wastewater disposal. This essay identifies the roots of this global technology in decisions during the second half of the nineteenth century. The first part traces the divergent interests of a broad range of stakeholders. City dwellers, sanitary experts and sewermen, engineers and inventors, state authorities and agriculturalists held different views of wastewater problems that were at odds in significant respects. The second part traces the way how these divergent interests were negotiated, arguing that it was a process of subsequent exclusion rather than negotiation and the gradual development of a compromise. In this way, the rise of the water closet as a self-evident sanitary requirement marks the hegemony of the city in modernity as well as the victory of sanitary and engineering interests at the expense of rural interests. It also turned the water closet into a mode of distinction, as access varied and continues to vary depending on gender and social status.

Environmental History and Spatiality

Author Ayuka KASUGA
Keywords Environmental History, Spatiality, Network


One of the key ideas behind the international seminar ‘Collective Inhabited Areas in Environmental History/Environmental Writings’ was the need to focus on spatiality when the relationships between and among societies and the environment are considered. This paper briefly explores some of the key texts in the literature of environmental history that developed the theme of spatiality and tries to present elementary ideas about the possibilities of research into it. It focuses in particular on two strands: the material and economic chains, and the networks of scientists, experts, and policy makers. Issues concerning material and economic chains include interactive or two-way changes and the inclusion of non-human agency. Although harmony is sometimes emphasised in relation to material and economic chains, researchers argue that material and economic chains can cause problems, such as social justice and environmental deterioration. This paper also provides a small case study on material and economic chains around the brickmaking business in London. It may be comparable to the material cycle of excrement in Edo-era Japan.

Read more

Issues concerning the networks of scientists, experts, and policy makers include the nature of networks and access. These spatiality issues can be explored in different scales, from local and regional to imperial, transnational, and global. Although these frameworks are interesting in themselves, what is more interesting is how these frameworks are useful for understanding issues of inequality, conflict, and the emergence of environmental problems, as well as how these problems have been solved.

Monks and the Desert in Western Thebes from the Sixth to the Eighth Century

Author Akio KAIBARA
Keywords desert, monks, Western Thebes, Pisentios, St. Phoibammon


Many heroes of early monastic history were active in Egypt, because the desert was a convenient space in which to retire from the world. Among them was Pachomius, who founded cenobitism, which is the most popular form of monasticism today. Pachomian monasteries were not ‘desert monasteries’. Most of them were actually situated in the suburbs of a city.

Read more

Theban monks were faithful to Pachomius’s monastic rule, but they wished to be ‘desert hermits’. This mentality was inspired by the landscape of Western Thebes, where there were many tombs and caves suitable for seclusion.

One of these monks, Pisentios, was appointed Bishop of Koptos by Damianos, the anti-Chalcedonian patriarch of Alexandria. When the Persians invaded Egypt, Pisentios abandoned his religious duties and escaped. The Life of St. Pisentios does not attempt to vindicate his behaviour. Rather, it makes the point that the ideals of a monk were superior to the responsibilities of the bishop.

Monks living in this area were indifferent to heresies because they desired to shun any association with other people and engrossed themselves in reading the Bible as much as possible. However, the establishment of Arab Muslim rule in Egypt made the Egyptian people yearn for their former sovereigns and their culture. When the monastery of St. Phoibammon was forced to move from deep in the mountains of Djeme to the ruined Temple of Hatshepsut, the larger context changed for the monks of Western Thebes. The monastery became a religious centre that attracted people from far away, while many monastic communities and hermitages were overwhelmed. ‘Hermitages in the desert’ disappeared.

Forest Settlement by Bruno Taut in Past and Present

Author Masafumi KITAMURA
Keywords Bruno Taut, Forest Settlement, Berlin, Weimar Republic, modernist architecture movement


This study explores the path of one of the communities in Berlin from the Weimar period to the present by focusing on the forest settlement on the outskirts of Berlin, which was designed by a German architect named Bruno Taut in the late 1920s. When many architects started a new trend in construction during the 1920s, which they named “Modernist Architecture,” the construction of houses for masses developed rapidly in Europe. In 1928, the forest settlement inhabitants established the Zehlendorf Fischtalgrund Residents’ Association. Starting from 1929, this association organized the annual Fischtal Festival aiming to build facilities for youth. Along with the forest settlement residents, people from all over Berlin enjoyed the festival as well. When the Nazis came into power in 1933, the Residents’ Association was commanded to separate, and the Fischtal Festival was also discontinued. Today, thanks to continuous efforts since the 1970s to restore the original state of the forest settlement, people can enjoy the architecture that was created by Bruno Taut, but in a different context from the time when it was constructed.

Dreaming of “Human-Uninhabited” Areas? National Park Debates in Modern Germany and Japan

Author Kazuki OKAUCHI
Keywords environmental history, nature conservation, protected area, recreational area, tourism


Pioneered in the United States, national parks as less human-inhabited large-scale protected areas have become one of the most influential tools for nature conservation in the modern world. Germany and Japan are among the industrialized countries that have been motivated by the national park concept, although the related debates in the two nations have proceeded differently. Japan created its first 12 national parks in the mid-1930s, and its interest at the national and regional policy levels in attracting foreign tourists has dominated the national park debate to this day. National parks have certainly played a role as the last bastion of nature lovers, especially in conflicts with infrastructure projects, but conservation in national parks has been a less popular topic among the Japanese public. Germany, by contrast, began its national park history with the establishment of the Society for Nature Protection Park in 1909, and park creation started to accelerate only in the 1950s and 1960s. However, the German debate has changed its focus from conservation to recreation and then to ecology; one can also hear critical voices against a recent national park project to rethink the national park concept per se in a broader environmental context. The German case may indicate the desirability of having a more flexible debate around conservation practices.

Editorial Note

Page Top