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Osaka Prints: Glossary

Compiled by John Fiorillo

This glossary provides definitions of selected terms found in discussions of Japanese printmaking, particularly in relation to kamigata-e and the kabuki theater. Besides using the alphabetical links immediately below, your browser's "Find" command may also assist you in navigating through this long list of terms.



Shunshi A

agari yakusha: "Going-up actors," kabuki actors from Edo (former name of Tokyo and the Shogunate's administrative center) who traveled to perform in the Kamigata region (Osaka-Kyoto) during the hiring period for the new theatrical season. This often occurred in preparation for the annual kaomise ("face-showing"), corresponding to the first day of the 11th month to the tenth day of the 12th month in Edo, and the 12th month in Kamigata. Agari yakusha were given special billing in the theater programs and on billboards for the kaomise. The term used in Osaka, however, was nobori yakusha ("actors going up to the capital") or Edo nobori ("going up to the capital from Edo") — the capital during the Tokugawa period being Kyoto. See also norikomi ("embarkation"). The opposite were the kudari yakusha ("going-down actors").

aiban: An intermediate-size sheet of paper used for printmaking, approximately 33 x 23 cm. Compare with the slightly larger ôban format.

aragoto: "Rough stuff" or "wild business," the expressive and explosive style of kabuki acting first introduced by Ichikawa Danjûrô I (1660-1704). The term is a contraction of aramushagoto ("wild warrior business") that first appeared in writings about Danjûrô I. Aragoto movements may have had their origins in early religious rituals that included aramai ("wild dances") involving stamping and glaring amidst acrobatic dancing portraying violent warriors and deities (related to yamabushi rituals). Aragoto routines included drinking from huge saké cups, smashing structures, tearing up trees, decapitating enemies, and ripping apart ferocious beasts. Aragoto plays are linked to early forms of shosagoto or dance plays, although the aragoto performer has many lines to speak and strikes a series of static and defiant postures called mie, thus differentiating his role from that of pure dance. The performer's swaggering dance movements are referred to as roppô. A further connection with religious iconography may be found in the aragoto actor's well-known face makeup, called kumadori ("taking the shadows"), found in many of the most dramatic roles and composed of red or blue bands sweeping outwards from the brow, eyes, and cheeks toward the actor's wig, which may be derived from the chikara suji ("sinews of strength") common to Buddhist statues. Compare wagoto.

aratame: "Examined," a type of censor seal used in combination with date seals used on ukiyo-e prints. The characters for aratame are also found on ukiyo-e prints to indicate "name changed to" (from aratameru, "to change"), used by artists and actors changing their professional names.

atari: "Hit," indicating a successful kabuki production. It suggested hitting a bullseye and was used in expressions such as atari kyôgen ("hit play"), atari yaku ("hit role"), and atari gei ("hit acting"). A really big success was sometimes called ôatari ("big hit"). Billboards set up over kabuki theaters on towers called atari mato no tsurimono or atari kanban were used to display, among other things, targets with an arrow through the bullseye, with the ideogram for ôiri ("full house") written below as a kind of wishful expression or prayer for success.

ato-han: Late edition.

ato-zuri: Late or later printing.

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bakufu: "Tent government" or "curtain government," the administrative arm of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Bakumatsu: "End of the bakufu," the final years of the Edo period, witnessing the decline of the shogunate, equivalent to the following range of periods: Tenpô (I/25/1830-II/17/1844), Kôka (II/18/1844-II/4/1848), Kaei (II/5/1848-I/28/1854), Ansei (I/29/1854-I/22/1860), Man’en (I/23/1860-II/9/1861), Bunkyû (II/10/1861-II/7/1864), Genji (II/8/1864-I/26/1865), and Keiô (I/27/1865-I/24/1868).

banzuke: Theater program or playbill; also a listing that ranks professional sumô wrestlers. See also ehon banzuke and tsuji banzuke.

baren: "Succession sheath," the circular rubbing pad used by printers to rub the designs and colors from woodblocks onto paper. It is composed of three parts: a core of cord arranged in a tight spiral, placed on a backing disk (called the ategawa, made from 30-40 sheets of pasted hosokawa paper and covered in tissue with black lacquer), and wrapped in tightly wound and twisted fibers of bamboo sheath.

bijin-ga: Literally, "pictures of beautiful persons," but used specifically to mean "pictures of beautiful women." The term bijo was also used for "beautiful woman." An earlier term was onna-e (pictures of women).

bokashi: An important ukiyo-e printing technique for the gradation of color. There are various types, including ichimoji bokashi ("straightline gradation" for narrow and abrupt shading), ichimoji nurabokashi ("straight-line uneven edge gradation"), and ôbokashi ("wide gradation" for gradual shading over a wide area). Generically these types of bokashi are sometimes called simply fude bokashi ("brush gradation"). Other types are called atenashi bokashi ("gradation without definition" for soft color modulations such as rosy cheeks) and futa iro bokashi ("two-tone gradation" for gradual blending of two colors).

Bunka: Era name for II/11/1804 - II/4/1818.

Bunsei: Era name for II/5/1818 - I/24/1830.

byôbu: Folding screen composed of two or more panels painted with one or more continuous scenes. Standard screens are either 2, 4, 6 , or 8 panels.

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chaya: "Teahouse." There were many chaya located near the theaters in the large cities of Edo, Osaka, and Kyoto. Also known as ochaya ("teahouse," or "honorable teahouse"), an establishment that offered entertainment by geisha, including music and dance, and food and beverages. Though not actually a restaurant, teahouses would provide food supplied by outside caterers when patrons required a more lavish evening . (Teahouses in the pleasure quarters often served as houses of assignation where customers could arrange meetings with courtesans.) One of the most famous teahouses featured in the theatrical world was the Ichiriki-tei ("One Strength Teahouse"), where Oishi Kuranosuke pretended to waste away his life while actually preparing the revenge of the forty-seven rônin in the perennial kabuki favorite Kanadehon chûshingura.

chûban: Medium-format (half-ôban) sheet of paper used for printmaking (one-quarter of an ôbôsho sheet); approximately 26 x 18 cm.

chû-shibai: "Middle theaters," the intermediate level of kabuki theaters in Osaka (between the children's theaters, kodomo-shibai, and big theaters, ô-shibai). Actors from the professionally competent to the most gifted performed in both the chû-shibai and the ô-shibai. The chû-shibai was also known for its schooling system, and it appears that when a more experienced actor failed in popularity, the chû-shibai could provide opportunities for gaining further experience or retraining. Many Edo actors received their early training in Osaka's chû-shibai before joining the big theaters in Edo, where only kodomo-shibai and ô-shibai were supported.

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degatari: "Narrator's appearance," the recitation or chanting of jôruri on the kabuki stage. In particular, scenes in the kabuki theater in which the actors appeared on stage with both the chanters and the musicians in view. Before the late eighteenth century, the musicians and chanters sat out of view of the audience.

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Edo: "Bay Door," or "Entrance to the Bay," the name used until IX/13/1868 for what is now the modern city of Tokyo.

Edo jidai: "Edo period," the name for the period 1603 to 1868; also called the Tokugawa period.

Edo nobori: "Ascending from Edo to the Capital" (also see agari yakusha).

ehon: "Picture book," a book with woodblock-printed illustrations.

ehon banzuke: "Picture-book theater program," a kabuki program or playbill that included the name and date of the play, the acting cast, and illustrated scenes that told the story of the play. Although some are extant from the eighteenth century, they were not published regularly until the early nineteenth century. More of the story was illustrated and told in these playbills than in the tsuji banzuke.

eiri kyôgen-bon: Illustrated kabuki playbooks or summary editions, ranging from prose adaptations of plays to relatively accurate stage dialog. Often the most popular scenes were illustrated two-page spreads accompanied by dialogue; others had brief outlines with a larger number of illustrations. These playbooks were also called ezukushi kyôgen-bon and eiri nehon.

e-kanban: "Picture signboards," painted wooden display boards advertising kabuki performances, placed in front of theaters or suspended from the facades.

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fude: "Painted by," a suffix frequently appended to signatures on ukiyo-e prints and paintings. Also read as hitsu. Compare with ga.

fûkei-ga: Landscape prints or paintings.

furikake: "Sprinkling," the traditional method of applying metallic pigments to woodblock prints. The technique involved the application of glue through a stencil after all other parts of the print design had been completed and the paper was allowed to dry. The stencil was then removed and powdered metallics were sifted through a fine mesh netting onto the still-moist glue and pressed gently with paper or a smooth cotton cloth or swab. Surplus metal powders not adhering to the glue were later brushed off. The method was possibly derived from maki-e, a decorative lacquering technique in which actual gold, silver, and copper dust was sprinkled in a pattern on damp lacquer. As in printmaking, the excess metal dust was brushed off after drying, though in lacquer design the surface was thereafter polished.

fûzoku: "Manners and customs," in general, social behavior.

fûzokuga: "Genre painting," or pictures depicting manner and customs. Such genre prints were uncommon in kamingata-e, but they were frequently encountered in Edo printmaking.

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ga: "Drawn by" or "painted by," a suffix frequently appended to the signatures of ukiyo-e artists. Compare with fude (hitsu).

gajô: Folding album.

geiko: "Arts child," originally dancing girls who were too young to be called geisha but too old (more than twenty years of age) to be called odoriko. Geiko was the pronunciation used in the Kamigata region. Some geiko operated as illegal prostitutes. By the nineteenth century the term became synonymous with geisha.

geimei: "Artist's name." The same ideograms were also used for an actor's stage name.

geisha: "Accomplished person," Edo dialect for male and female entertainers who specialized in dancing, playing musical instruments, singing, and sophisticated conversation. Two other terms meant the same thing: geigi and, in the Kamigata region (Osaka and Kyoto), geiko. At first only males were geisha (see taikomochi), but the first female was reputedly the former yujô (prostitute) Kasen of the Ôgiya in Edo's Yoshiwara, who had paid off all her debts and began an entertainment business around 1761.

Genji: The Minamoto clan, which fought against the Heike (Taira) clan during the Genpei wars and eventually defeated them at the battle of Dannoura in western Honshû in 1185. The chronicles of these wars and its hero, Minamoto Yoshitsune, were very popular subjects for ukiyo-e prints and ehon. The Ashikaga, Takeda, and Tokugawa families all made claims to the Genji lineage.

Genji monogatari: "Tale of Genji," Japan's first great novel and arguably its greatest pre-modern literary work, written in the early eleventh century by Murasaki Shikibu. It consists of 54 extant chapters involving a wide range of characters centered around the prince Hikaru Genji ("Radiant Genji"). Motifs from the tale were very popular in ukiyo-e prints and books. Also see genji-kô.

genji-kô: "Genji-incense," rectilinear emblems or patterms, each specifically associated with one of the 54 chapters of the Genji monogatari. Also referred to as genji-mon ("genji crests"). The patterns were derived from vent patterns of the incense burners used in the ancient game of incense guessing, called awase-kô ("fragrance game" or "incense game"). The game challenged players to identify burning incense as small slivers of various fragrant tree resins were placed on pieces of mica and burned over charcoal in a kôrô ("incense burner"). Players had their guesses tallied and the one with the most correct guesses was the winner (some versions of the game also involved game boards in which correct guesses permitted the player to advance toward the center of the game board). The incense game was highly popular during the Heian period (794-1185) and was often referred to in ukiyo-e prints. During the Edo period these incense patterns were not always strictly matched with the chapters of the Genji story; rather, they sometimes simply alluded to classical culture or origins as part of mitate. Thus in ukiyo-e prints the inclusion of genji-mon may not necessarily designate a particular connection with one of the chapters in the Genji monogatari.

giri: "Duty," "obligation," or "reason," a term referring to the obligations imposed on members of Japanese society and often contrasted with ninjô. The term giri was first used in the early Tokugawa period when it indicated the moral path in relation to others and, more narrowly, a samurai's loyalty to his lord. By the late seventeenth century giri meant "duty" or "obligation" and applied to all classes within the social order, each with its own set of codes of conduct. Giri links individuals of differing status (parent/child, master/pupil, lord/servant, employer/worker, and so on) or equal status (neighbors, friends, allies, and so on). Giri is can also be a moral debt binding a person to someone who has provided assistance, regardless of status. The link is an unbreakable one that can be repaid without ending the obligation. When giri becomes too oppressive and overwhelmingly conflicts with ninjô, as in the sewamono/shinjû tales of the Edo period, suicide becomes the final option; tales of these conflicts were popular in kabuki and ukiyo-e.

: Artist's name or pseudonym.

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haigô: Literary name used by writers, poets, and amateur versifiers; also called haimyô.

haikai: Shortened term synonymous with haikai no renga. Haikai were derived from medieval verse called renga, poems of thirty-one syllables (5-7-5-7-7) and like renga, were initially composed collaboratively by two or more poets who took turns composing (linking) verses of three lines (5-7-5) and two lines (7-7) to produce poems of varying length. Compared to classical renga, haikai were somewhat casual in style and often humorous in tone, most often employing imagery from daily life. Later, when Matsuo Bashô (1644-1694) and his followers used only the first three opening lines (hokku, or "opening phrase"), the term became associated with verse of seventeen syllables (5-7-5), the same structure as haiku. In Osaka, most artists designing actor prints, as well as kabuki actors, were active members of poetry clubs, both haikai and kyôka.

hama shibai: "Beach theaters," the middle theaters (chû-shibai) away from the main district along the Dôtonbori (Dôton canal) in Osaka, where lesser actors could still perform the leading kabuki roles.

hanamichi: "Flower path," a raised passageway extending from the kabuki stage into the audience toward the back of the theater. The origin of the term has been a matter for debate, although the Kokon yakusha taizen ("Encyclopedia of actors then and now," 1750) states that the passageway was added so the audience members or fans could present gifts (often flowers) to the actors.

hangi-ya: "Woodblock workers," a term for artisans who carved woodblocks for printmaking (including books).

hanmoto: Publisher.

hanshibon: A standard book format approximately 22.5 x 15.5 cm in size.

hanshita-e: "Block design" or "block sketch," a drawing on thin paper made by a professional copyist (hikkô) and then used by the engraver, who pasted it face down on a woodblock and carved the design while using the sketch as a guide.

harimaze-e: "Mixed pasted prints," a print with multiple images on the same sheet. Each picture was meant to be cut out from the original sheet. In some examples more than one artist designed the various images on a single sheet.

hayagawari-e: "Quick-change pictures," pictures that when juxtaposed against one another and folded along alignment lines formed new images. These also included flaps that could be raised to show alternate versions of part of the scene (some pornographic in nature). There is an implied reference to the quick changes in costume (hayagawari) effected on the kabuki stage.

heimei: "Poetry name" or "literary name" (also haimyô or haigô). As a result of their membership in haikai or kyôka clubs, most ukiyo-e artists also were known by heimei and some occasionally signed their prints with their heimei rather than their geimei or artist name.

hengemono: "Transformation piece," a sequence of brief dance pieces in which one actor performs various roles, often of a contrasting nature. They were frequently accompanied by on-stage musicians and featured hayagawari ("quick changes"). Hengemono first appeared at the end of the seventeenth century and were especially popular in the first quarter of the nineteenth century.

hiiki: "Patron," a kabuki fan or supporter. The derivation of the term might be a lengthened form of hiki, meaning "pulling" or "pulling together."

hiiki-renchû: Loyal theater fan clubs, composed of patrons or fans of particular actors who, in addition to attending their performances, sent them gifts, decorated the theaters, participated in various theater ceremonies, wrote laudatory reviews, and published commemorative surimono. An alternative pronunciation for renchû is renjû. The three main cities of Edo, Kyoto, and Osaka all had many fan clubs, but Osaka had clubs with particularly long unbroken histories and special customs.

hikifuda: "Billboard poster," a printed hand-bill made to advertise a product or retail shop. The characters in the word hikifuda include meanings such as "distribute" or "attract." Early examples were made with woodblock printing, and during the late nineteenth century some hikifuda were made in deluxe printings. Toward the end of the nineteenth century lithography and other Western printing techniques, including movable type and offset printing, replaced the woodblock method. Many hikifuda were printed with a variety of standardized borders that merchants could select for their particular advertising messages. Some well-known ukiyo-e artists designed hikifuda. Typically, hikifuda were distributed in limited numbers to important customers and neighborhood leaders who were expected to assist in advertising the product or store through word of mouth.

hikkô: "Block copyist," a professional copyist who supplied wood engravers with a copy of an original artist's design for a woodblock print.

hiragana: "Flat and easy script," one of two types of the cursive kana script used for the Japanese syllabary (the other being katakana); frequently found on ukiyo-e in inscriptions, poems, names, etc. The symbols were based on Chinese characters for their sound but without their meaning.

hitsu: "Painted by," a suffix frequently appended to signatures on ukiyo-e prints and paintings. Also read as fude. Compare with ga.

honya: Publisher or bookseller.

hori: "Cutter" or "cut by," a designation found in ukiyo-e prints along with the name of the person credited with cutting the woodblocks used to print the design; often found within a small cartouche, and with only part of the name indicated.

hôsho: Thick, highly absorbent paper used for the finer editions of ukiyo-e prints and for surimono; also later called mitsumata (Edgworthia papyrifera).

hosoban: Narrow-format sheet of paper used for printmaking, approximately 33 cm x 15 cm.

hyôbanki: Evaluation books. The first ones were yûjo hyôbanki ("courtesan evaluation books"), which served as guides to individual courtesans in the licensed pleasure districts. The earliest known example is the illustrated Yoshiwara makura ("Yoshiwara Pillow") in Edo, 1660. Later there were actors' hyôbanki, at first containing brief descriptions of the actors' best features. When a nearly universal ranking system was developed for actors in the 1680s, longer and more detailed critiques appeared, some including debates between fictional characters or comments by talkative fictional "spectators" concerning the comparative merits of various actors. Good reviews in hyôbanki were important to actors, who used favorable critiques in their self-promotion and salary negotiations.

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ichimai-e: Single-sheet print; also called ichimaizuri.

ireki: "Inserting wood," correcting errors or making revisions in a block design by cutting out, or adding to, a part of the original design and inserting pieces of wood. Ireki used for designs by Edo artists are known only in small numbers, despite Edo's large-scale printmaking industry. In Osaka, however, where production was perhaps as little as 5 percent the size of Edo's, the number of surviving examples suggests that the technique was more common in that city. Ireki was used for a variety of reasons, such as the substitution of different actors' heads and names to match later performances; the updating of play titles or roles; the reuse of the same design for kabuki productions in different cities; the modification of backgrounds in the compositions; the removal or substitution of poems; the addition of timely inscriptions, such as announcements of farewell performances or pronouncements regarding the popularity of the play or individual performance; and the modification of scenes from stage performances into memorial prints (shini-e). Ireki offered advantages, including cost-savings: recutting a small portion of a woodblock, gauging out a background, or adding a new inscription was less expensive than producing an entirely new set of key and color blocks. Ireki also aided in meeting fast-approaching deadlines, particularly when producing designs for unexpected substitutions of actors, last-minute changes in scheduled kabuki plays, or the untimely deaths of actors.

irezumi: "Inking," or "put ink," the term used for "tattooing." In the latter half of the seventeenth century irezumi referred to the tattooing of criminals as a punishment, while horimono was used for voluntary, representational tattooing. Gradually the two terms became synonymous after the abolition of penal tattooing in 1870. Figurative or representational tattooing seems to have first developed in the pleasure quarters of the major cities around the mid-seventeenth century.

isse ichidai: "Once in a lifetime performance" or "performance of a career," either (1) a final play or performance celebrating an actor's achievements over an entire career, given shortly before he retired, or (2) an especially successful performance. The term was inscribed on ukiyo-e prints, and, of course, would have been prominently included in banzuke announcing a production for a celebrated actor's retirement. When meant to indicate a great success, it served as a sales pitch as well as a comment on the event.

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jidaimono: "Period piece," a term designating history plays of the kabuki and bunraku (puppet) theaters whose main characters were court nobles or bushi ("warriors") of former eras. Compare with sewamono.

jisei: "Death poem" or "death message," also translated variously as "passing away," "last words," "farewell poem to life," or "parting with the world." Sometimes found on shini-e. It is a formal message written shortly before or on the verge of death, usually in poetic form, but occasionally in prose.

jômon: "Fixed crest badge," or "standard crest," the usual, official mon associated with a specific kabuki actor and typically used by the entire acting lineage (compare with the more personal crest called kaemon). There can be slight variations in the designs of jômon for actors within the same lineage. The identification of actors depicted in ukiyo-e is often aided by the presence of jômon, but care must be taken not to confuse different actors of the same lineage.

jôruri: Term referring to both the Japanese puppet theater (bunraku) as well as the musical accompaniment for bunraku and kabuki. More specifically, the term jôruri derives from the medieval oral narrative Jôruri Gozen monogatari ("The Tale of Princess Jôruri"), which recounts a brief romance between the legendary Minamoto no Yoshitsune and a young woman who rescues him during an illness and reveals that she is the incarnation of Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of Healing. During the late fifteenth century traveling performers would chant the narrative to the accompaniment of the biwa, but when the samisen replaced the biwa in popularity, the term jôruri soon became synonymous for that style of chanted performance. By the seventeenth century the narrative and puppet styles of drama began to blend, and thus the term jôruri was transformed to mean an array of narrative chanting and singing accompanied by the samisen for the puppets (such as gidayû, its most important genre named after Takemoto Gidayû) and kabuki theater.

jûnishi: Twelve signs of the zodiac, a theme often encountered in series of ukiyo-e prints. Jûnishi are represented by the following animals: (1) ne (rat); (2) ushi (ox); (3) tora (tiger); (4) u (hare); (5) tatsu (dragon); (6) mi (snake); (7) uma (hors); (8) hitsuji (goat); (9) saru (monkey); (10) tori (cock); (11) inu (dog); (12) i (boar).

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kabuki: "Song, dance, person," the term used for the popular theater of Japan originating in the seventeenth century. The term was derived from kabuku ("to incline" or "bend forward" — its meaning during the Momoyama period, and "to be unusual" or "out of the ordinary," its meaning by the seventeenth century). The modern characters used to write the word mean "song-dance-skill," although only kana seem to have been used for the term in the early to mid-seventeenth century. Then the Chinese ideographs (kanji) for "song, dance, woman" eventually came into popular usage, with the last ideograph also meaning "prostitute." Finally it was replaced by the radical for "person." It is generally accepted that kabuki had its first performances in the dances of Okuni in the city of Kyoto in 1596, and its first form was onna kabuki ("women's kabuki"). Around 1610-20 kabuki was staged within the Yoshiwara in Edo, but the shogunate objected to centralization of two worlds of vice (the pleasure quarters and the theater), so it banned kabuki from the Yoshiwara. The segregation of these two worlds was, however, hardly rigid.

kachôfugetsu: "Flowers, birds, wind, and moon," a popular subject grouping for paintings, prints, and illustrated books.

kaemon: "Alternative crest," an actor's personal crest generally reserved solely for a particular actor (compare with jômon). Although these crests appear in some ukiyo-e designs, their use was typically restricted for private purposes, and little is known about their variations or inheritance within acting families. Care should be taken not to confuse kaemon with mon associated with the roles or characters played by the actors (as, for example, the tomoe worn by Yuranosuke in the play Kanadehon chûshingura).

kagami: "Mirror," a frequently encountered word in the titles of ukiyo-e prints as well as a common pictorial device used in portraits of women and actors.

kaimyô: Posthumous Buddhist names, often found on "death prints" (shini-e).

kakihan: "Writing seal," distinctive character, mark, design, or flourish that was often used as a substitute for an artist's signature or seal.

Kamigata: "Upper region," the area including Kobe, Kyoto, and Osaka; also see Kansai.

kamigata-e: "Kamigata print," woodblock and stencil (kappazuri-e) prints principally of Osaka but including Kyoto, Ise, and surrounding cities of the Kansai region.

kana: "Borrowed names," signs or characters of the Japanese syllabary used to spell out words phonetically. There are two sets, hiragana and katakana.

kaneru yakusha: "All-around actor," a highly skilled actor who could play many types of roles; thus a term designating the most accomplished of actors. In early Genroku kabuki specialization was expected of the best actors, whose performances were thought to suffer if an actor ventured out beyond his area of expertise. Later generations of actors were influenced by Nakamura Tomijûrô I (1719-1786), the third son of Ayame I, who played both onnagata and tachiyaku roles and used both acting and dancing to great effect, rising to the highest ranking despite criticisms from traditionalists. Soon actors playing multiple-style roles became the norm.

Kansai: "West of the barrier," the region west of the Hakone barrier in Sagami, including the prefectures of Ômi, Yamashiro, Tanba, Tango, Izumi, Kawachi, Yamato, Kii, Ise, Iga, Tajima, Settsu, Harima, and Awaji, thus encompasing the cities of Kobe, Osaka, and Kyoto; roughly synonymous, but not equivalent to, Kamigata.

Kantô: "East of the barrier," the seven provinces immediately east and north of the Hakone barrier, being Hitachi, Shimotsuke, Kôzuke, Musashi, Shimôsa, Kazusa, and Awa. When Sagami is added to this group,it became the Kantô hasshû ("Eight Provinces East of the Barrier"), which surrounded Edo (thus roughly comprising eastern Japan), including present-day Tokyo and Yokohama.

kaomise: "Face-showing," or "to show one's face," an abbreviation of kaomise kyôgen or kaomise kôgyô. Ceremonial introduction of actors; the opening of the season in which a kabuki theater would present its annual, newly engaged company of actors. Kaomise took place in Edo from the first day of November to the tenth day of December, and in Kamigata during the twelfth month. From about 1750 onwards the first and main part of the program was usually begun with one or more dances, then a prologue, and next the main play based on an historical tale adapted to conform to a particular sakai or "world" decided upon by the playwrights. The second half of the program was usually a sewamono or domestic drama. Often for these performances the actors would appear wearing only minimal make-up and street clothes. See also nanori.

kappazuri-e: Stencil prints. Typically the outlines were block printed while the colors were applied by hand through stencils.

kata: "Form," conventionalied, fixed forms in kabuki. Kata were forms in (1) acting; (2) performance style (such as aragoto, wagoto, and shosagoto); (3) techniques (such as mie, entrances and exits, specialized movements, vocalizations and sound effects, costumes and makeup, and staging); and (4) interpretation (individuated approaches to roles developed by actors to suit their strengths and weaknesses).

katakana: "Part kana," kana signs used phonetically for foreign words, plants, and animals, or for certain literary or reference works.

kawaraban: "Tile editions," sold by singer-vendors called yomiuri. These "editions" were illustrated broadsheets sold in the city streets and rural areas. The news contained within these broadsheets was most often of an immediate and inflammatory nature (love suicides and scandals, samurai vendettas, and the like). The bakufu tried to suppress these irregularly published sheets as being harmful to the public welfare, but the various proscriptions and bans throughout the Tokugawa period did not eliminate them. The origin of the term may be derived from the earliest examples, which were printed from clay tiles; usually, however, they were printed from woodblocks. If an alternate reading of the kanji characters is used, the term could mean "river-bed print," perhaps an allusion to the outcasts living in the poorest sections of urban centers.

keisei: "Castle topplers," courtesans of the highest ranks, although the term was not used to designate any specific grade of prostitute. In the kabuki theater from the late seventeenth century onwards the keisei represented a most important and demanding role for the onnagata, who had to concern himself with the portrayal of beauty, experience, elegance, fidelity, and innocence in combinations that made the keisei an expressive character on the stage. On many Osaka prints the term keisei was often written in hiragana script and did not always indicate that a courtesan was a central character in the play; it might, for example, simply indicate a New Year's performance.

kimono: "Thing to wear," a belted full-length robe for both men and women derived from the kosode ("small sleeve") underrobe of the Heian court.

kôjô: A kabuki actor's long speech serving as a formalized expression of gratitude to the audience. Printmakers often included kôjô in their designs while depicting the actors bowing before their audiences.

koban: Small format sheet of paper used for printmaking, approximately 1/4 to 1/2 aiban or ôban (thus ranging from 17 x 11 cm to 19 x 13 cm).

kokonobake: "Nine changes," a series of dances performed by a single actor who never leaves the stage and who takes on the roles, genders, and costumes of the different characters.

koma-e: "Inset picture," an illustration within a larger picture, set off within a cartouche, rectangle, fan-shape, cloud formation, or other form.

kôzo: Standard, hand-made paper made from the bast (inner white fibers) of the mulberry tree (including Broussone papyrifera, Broussonetia kazinoki Sieb., and Broussonetia kaempferi Sieb.) and used in ukiyo-e printmaking. Kozô fibers are long, about 12mm, compared to fibers of the other trees used for handmade Japanese papers, 4mm for gampi (Diplomorphia sikokiana) and 3mm for mitsumata (Edgeworthia papyrifera).

kudari yakusha: "Going-down actors," actors from the Kamigata region (Osaka-Kyoto and environs) who traveled to perform in Edo theaters, often during early November for the hiring period leading up to the kaomise. Kudari yakusha were given special billing in the theater programs and on billboards for the annual kaomise. The term was derived from the sentiment that leaving the capital (Kyoto) for any other locale was a "descent." Compare norikomi or agari yakusha.

kumadori: "Taking the shadows" or "painting the shadows," edging with colors in an elaborate style of kabuki make-up associated with aragoto roles. Also called suji kuma ("border stripes"). Ichikawa Danjûrô II is credited with introducing the style of makeup (his father Danjûrô I invented aragoto but used solid red face makeup in stage roles). Kumadori is composed of curved lines or bands of various colors painted on a base of white, red, or brown make-up and sweeping outwards from the brow, eyes, and cheeks toward the actor's wig or hair line. Similar lines were often painted on the legs and arms as well. The two principal types use red lines (beniguma) or blue lines (aiguma), the first suggesting righteousness, strength, or passion, the latter evil or hatred. Combinations of patterns and colors number more than one hundred and may be derived from chikara suji ("sinews of strength") common to painted Buddhist statues.

kyôgen: "Wild words," the classical comic theater that served as a companion — often as an interlude — to the plays of the Nô theater. Kyôgen may be as old as the Nô and certainly had already reached an advanced stage by the time Nô was brought to full maturity by Zeami (1363-1443). Occasionally the term kyôgen was used to mean a kabuki performance and can found as such in inscriptions on ukiyo-e.

kyôka: "Playful verse," or "crazy verse," 31-syllable comic poetry in 5-line form (known as tanka or waka), especially popular during the late eighteenth century, reaching its zenith during the Tenmei era (1781-1789). Kyôka were not "crazy verse" in the sense of wild expressiveness, but rather were unorthodox by virtue of their breaking the classical rules of diction and subject matter used in conventional waka. Most were actually somewhat serious in tone. In its most common form kyôka humor was found more in puns and other types of word play, or in oblique spoofing of classical poetry. When applying the term kyôka to late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century comic poetry, a less literal but more accurate translation would be "playful verse." In Osaka, most artists designing actor prints, as well as kabuki actors, were active members of poetry clubs, both haikai and kyôka.

Kyoto: "Capital city," the ancient capital where the emperor resided, also called Miyako or Keishi (from kei meaning "big" or "capital" and shi, meaning "mass of people"). The city was rebuilt after suffering widespread destruction from fires in 794 and 1177, military conflicts in 1467-98 and in 1536, and another conflagration in the first month of 1788.

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mameban: "Bean print," an especially small size print; known in Osaka from at least the 1820s.

Meiji: "Enlightened rule," the period name corresponding to I/25/1868–VII/29/1912. The dates are sometimes given as IX/8/1868–VII/30/1912, beginning with the official era name change to Meiji and ending with the day of the Emperor Meiji's death. The Emperor's relocation to Tokyo (the new name for Edo beginning IX/3/1868) took place in X/1868. The Meiji Restoration (Meiji ishin) followed the collapse of the Tokugawa shogunate (1603–1868; the 15th and last shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, abdicated in X/1867, while Imperial rule was officially declared on I/3/1868), representing the Emperor's return to supremacy and the beginning of long-term political and social reformation for the modernization of Japan.

mie: "Look and do," or "display," the expressive, exaggerated, static pose taken at a climactic moment in a kabuki play, accompanied by the actor's snapping of the head and a glaring expression of the eyes as the wooden clappers (tsuke) are struck off stage. In aragoto-style plays the mie are especially striking and make a strong impression upon the audience, but in sewamono (domestic plays) they occur less often and are more restrained. There are a great variety of types of mie, each with its own name and physical attributes. Also see nirami.

mitate: "Compare," or "view and construct"; a likening of one thing to another. It can mean, literally, "seeing with one’s own eyes." Mitate was a metaphorical, often playful or ironic connection made in popular Tokugawa art and literature linking the contemporary with the historical (either the recent or distant past), or the vulgar with the refined (zoku and ga), thereby creating immaginative, simultaneous, multiple layers of meanings that coexisted rather than blended. In ukiyo-e the term denotes the use of doubling structures to portray past and present (for example, a courtesan representing the poet Onno no Komachi). Mitate was also used to denote portraits of actors who had not actually performed in the roles or with the other actors shown in the composition. In addition, mitate referred to the drawing of actors in set poses not necessarily reflecting the specifics of an actual performance (see nakami). Pictures employing mitate were called mitate-e.

mon: A general term for the crest used by kabuki actors.

monjin: "Student" or "disciple," a designation sometimes found in the signatures on ukiyo-e prints.

musha-e: "Warrior prints."

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nagori kyôgen: "Farewell plays." See onagori kyôgen.

namae: The given name of an actor. The namae together with the family name (sei) constituted the stage name (geimei). Actors also used house names (yagô) which typically ended in -ya and were sometimes identified by their literary names (haimyô or haigô).

nanabake: "Seven changes," a series of dances performed by a single actor who never leaves the stage and who takes on the roles, genders, and costumes of the different characters; also called nana henge and shichi henge. Perhaps first introduced by the actor Mizuki Tatsunosuke in 1697.

Naniwa: The pre-modern name for Osaka, sometimes found in titles or inscriptions on ukiyo-e.

nanori: "Announcing one's name," a ritualized self-introduction.

nigao: "Likenesses," stylized portrayals of the human face in ukiyo-e prints and painting. Nigao-e ("likeness pictures"; also nise-e) were especially popular in actor prints, where the individuated facial characteristics were often drawn consistently and recognizably (unlike the conventional idealizations or stylizations of bijin-ga ("pictures of beautiful women").

ninjô: "Human feelings" or "desire," suggesting humanity or sensitivity, a principle of conduct connected with sympathy for human failings and suffering. It is a term often used in contrast to giri to explain the problems that result when personal desires conflict with societal obligations

nirami: "Glare," a pose with eyes open wide and pupils turning slowly inward as the actor strikes a climactic mie. Often preceded by the senkai, a circular motion of the head while keeping the body rigid, ending in profile or frontal view of the audience.

nishiki-e: "Brocade print," a full-color ukiyo-e print first developed on a large scale in the mid-1760s in Edo.

nobori yakusha: See agari yakusha.

norikomi: "Embarkation," the ceremony performed by the agari yakusha, actors from Edo who traveled to perform in the theaters of Kamigata (Osaka-Kyoto and environs), often during November, which was the hiring period. They were given special billing in the theater programs and on billboards for the annual kaomise; the opposite were the kudari yakusha. In Ôsaka, Edo actors sometimes boarded a decorated boat and entered the theater from the Dôton Canal (Dôtonbori), when the highest-ranking local actors would welcome and engage them in drinking contests.

nuri-e: Keyblock prints in black pigment (sumizuri-e) used by collectors to paint in colors or apply fabrics. In Osaka prints these were typically in small chûban or koban format.

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ôban: "Large print," a standard-size, large-format sheet of paper used for printmaking, approximately 38 x 26 cm.

okonomi no tsuki: "By request," an inscription found on some ukiyo-e prints presumably indicating a special commission for which the artist produced a design. It is not always clear whether such inscriptions were proof of important projects or merely ploys to provide a cachet and increase sales.

ôkubi-e: "Large-head" pictures, close-up bust portraits, a popular format in ukiyo-e and often one used for more finely printed editions.

onagori kyôgen: "Farewell plays," a term used for performances given by kabuki actors during the ninth and tenth months, which were the final performances of the regular theatrical year before some actors were scheduled to go on tour for a new season in other cities. The term appears on various ukiyo-e prints published in Kamigata. [In Edo these plays were sometimes called aki kyôgen ("autumn plays") or kikuzuki kyôgen ("chrysanthemum month plays"), as they coincided with the Chrysanthemum Festival (ninth day of the ninth month to the fifteenth day of the tenth month).] Typically onagori kyôgen included well-known roles as well as some dances created for the occasion. Other plays that were popular included those involving kowakare or "child separation" scenes in which a parent was forced to separate from a child, a choice of subject appropriate for an actor's farewell.

onnagata: "Woman's manner," male actors performing female roles on the kabuki stage. The actor credited with fully developing the onnagata method of acting was Yoshizawa Ayame (1673-1729). Ayame believed that on-stage performances derived from off-stage preparation. His physical and psychological approach to onnagata acting was amazingly expressive in a stylized manner of feminine physicality and emotion of all ages, and his audiences were repeatedly convinced they were witnessing true women on the stage. Segawa Kikunojô I (1693-1749) was influential in establishing onnagata as arbiters of fashion, which gradually led to the commercial exploitation of products inspired by fan adulation of the actors. Products used by the onnagata werre sought after by women and included combs, hairpins, scarves, obi, cosmetics, clothing patterns, and tea. Retail franchises also sprang up to sell these endorsed products.

Osaka: "Big slope," one of the three great cities of Japan and the commercial center during the Tokugawa period. An alternate readng of the characters is "meeting slope," which was used by writers while punning or alluding to lovers' trysts.

Osaka-e: "Osaka prints," ukiyo-e prints published in Osaka.

oshi-e: Color patchwork pictures, printed pictures on paper that were intended to be used as designs for adding colored paper or textiles. Once added to, oshi-e were sometimes mounted to battledore. Oshi-e was also an early Osaka and Kyoto word for full-color prints (synonymous with the Edo term nishiki-e).

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renchû: "Fan club," an association of kabuki patrons, first appearing in Osaka and later in Edo. Also pronounced renjû. Eventually the renchû's influence upon the performances in kabuki, particularly in Osaka, became so extensive that they often dictated the pace or rhythm of the production and the atmosphere in the auditorium. Mounting a production became unthinkable without the support of renchû.

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samisen: A three-stringed, long-necked instrument introduced into Japan around the mid-sixteenth century from China (where it was called a san hsien) via the Ryukyu Islands, and used in music for the bunraku and kabuki theaters and in various other musical entertainments. The sound box (doâte), originally covered with snakeskin, and later with catskin or dogskin, is connected to a long, thin wooden neck, called a sao, which is plucked by a large, hand-held plectrum called a bachi. The term is also written as shamisen, the difference being due to the regional pronunciation (samisen is the standard pronunciation for the Osaka region and in gidayû musical accompaniment to bunraku and kabuki theater performances). The instrument frequently appears in ukiyo-e prints, illustrated books, and paintings.

samurai: "To serve," or "warrior," a member of the ruling military class, technically from the Shogun down to the lowest retainer among a daimyô's vassals. Only samurai were permitted to wear both a long and short sword during the Edo period. Enormous numbers of ukiyo-e prints, illustrated books, and paintings depicted the samurai.

sekai: "World" or "sphere," a historical period, setting, or milieu with all its associations used by kabuki dramatists to set the events of their plays. In the theaters, managers and playwrights met for what was called sekai-sadame ("sphere-setting"), when they would decide upon the sekai to be used for the following season's productions. During the Tokugawa period the writers of kabuki and bunraku plays, as well as the writers of popular novels and stories, used sekai as thinly disguised settings for contemporary events to avoid the censure of the authorities who suppressed the reporting of present-day news or information related to the shogunate. Sekai also served as devices for presentating "doubling structures" (mitate) wherein audiences or readers could enjoy clever juxtapositions of contemporary and historical events or characters presented within the same work.

sewamono: "Everyday piece," "contemporary story," or "gossip play," a term designating domestic plays dealing with the lives of ordinary people in a relatively realistic manner. The characters in these plays are most often the chônin (townsmen or common people), who in the hands of accomplished playwrights such as Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653-1725) took on heroic and tragic proportions not usually associated with Edo's contemporary subjects. Compare with jidaimono.

sha: "Copied by," "sketched by," or "drawn by." Sometimes used with signatures to indicate the design was done in the manner of another work or copied from another work; synonymous with utsusu.

shibai: Literally "on the grass," which came to mean "theater" or "plays." The term may be derived from "sitting on the grass," as at sumô matches or early theatrical performances before shrines or temples. The first use of the word shibai for "theater" appears to have been in Osaka in 1664. During the Edo period shibai meant both theater and performances (plays and acting).

shikishiban: Square surimono format in the form of a poem card measuring approximately 20.5 x 18.5 cm (also called kakuban). The vast majority of privately issued surimono were made in this format after around 1810 until the 1830s, although the first known examples date from at least five years earlier. These roughly square sheets of paper were similar to shikishi sheets used by calligraphers, but they may have found common usage after print designers and poets recognized that the typical folding into thirds (for presentation within wrappers) of the popular long-format surimono (roughly 40 x 53 cm, today called yoko nagaban or "long horizontal format") resulted in three squared sections.

Shimabara: The name given to the first sanctioned walled-in pleasure quarter. Located in Kyoto, it resembled the Shimabara fortress in Kyûshu where Christian rebels resisted the samurai of the Tokugawa government in 1637-1638. The Shimabara was second only to the Yoshiwara in fame and reputation and, along with the Shinmachi in Osaka, was one of the three great licensed quarters of Japan. Each quarter had by the eighteenth century established its own unique characteristics, with the Shimabara known for its beautiful women, the Yoshiwara for its spirited courtesans, and the Shinmachi for its elegant buildings. This gave rise to the cliché of the ideal outing: spending time in a teahouse in Shinmachi with a beauty from the Shimabara possessing the attitude of a Yoshiwara woman.

shini-e: "Death print," a portrait print commemorating the death of an actor or artist. An earlier term for memorial portraits was tsuizen no nishiki-e ("memorial brocade print"), but "shini-e" does appear at least by the 1850s. Ehon commemorating the deaths of celebrated actors are known as early as 1709, and more regularly by the 1770s, whille examples of single-sheet shini-e exist from the 1780s-90s. The vast majority of shini-e depicted actors, but a few prints also commemorated the deaths of artists and musicians. Conventional shini-e often presented the memorialized figures in light blue court robes called "death dresses" (shini sôzoku) or ceremonial robes (called mizu kamishimo). Many shini-e included the dates of death, ages, kaimyô, and temple burial sites, while some included the death poems (jisei) of the deceased. The shini-e as a commonly encountered genre appears to have disappeared by Meiji 37 with the deaths of the triumvirate of Meiji-period Tokyo superstars known as Dan-Kiku-Sa, namely, Ichikawa Danjûrô IX (1839-1903), Onoe Kikugorô V, 1844-1903), and Ichikawa Sandanji I (1842-1904). Only a small handful of examples are known from the 1910s-1920s.

Shinmachi: A pleasure quarter in Osaka, which along with the more famous Yoshiwara of Edo and Shimabara of Kyoto, was one of the three great licensed quarters of Japan.

shosagoto: "Pose business," or "thing of posture," a kabuki dance piece. The term was first applied to describe kabuki dance around the Genroku era (1688-1703), with the first known instance in 1687. Shosagoto generally comprise elements of pre-Edo dance (mai), Edo-period dance (odori), and everyday gestures (furi). These pieces appear to have developed first in the performances of the onnagata; during the early years of shosagoto the most popular styles were dances in plays about ghosts or demons. Later, other types were developed, including quick-change dances (for example, nanabake) and flamboyant male dances called roppô and tanzen-mono.

shûmei: Ritualized name-taking or accession ceremony, as in the handing down of an acting name (geimei) to a successor.

sumizuri-e: Generic term for prints in black pigment only. Examples would include certain ehon and ehon banzuke, single-sheet keyblock prints before the application of colors, and nuri-e.

suri: "Printer" or "printed" ("rubbed"), a designation often found within small cartouches indicating the person credited with printing the design (typically only the master printer was so named on a print, although there are examples with the names of secondary printers). Surihan and suriko are also designations of printers found on ukiyo-e.

surimono: "Printed thing," a term used for privately issued or commissioned ukiyo-e. They were often printed on small, nearly square sheets of high-quality paper called shikishiban (although a variety of sizes are known) with the finest techniques and were frequently accompanied by poems that were essential elements of the designs. Surimono were commissioned by poets, who were typically members of poetry clubs, and distributed to friends to commemorate special events, the New Year, and so on. Others were distributed as announcements of important public performances or for personal occasions. There were also surimono for actors in Edo and Osaka that were issued to commemorate a succession to a new name (shûmei) or to celebrate a successful performance. These surimono promoted the careers of the actors and were avidly collected by fans who were members of the sponsoring renchû (fan clubs).

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tachiyaku: "Male role" or "standing actor," that is, a male character in kabuki.

tatebanko-e: "Standing printing-block models," a paper-craft hobby featuring three-dimensional constructions made from woodblock prints. The divertisement appears to have originated in the Kansai region by at least the late eighteenth century. Most designs were dioramas with their various parts printed on one or more sheets, intended to be cut out and assembled. (Thus very few from the Tokogawa period have survived intact, and Meiji-period examples are also uncommon.). The Edo variant was called kumiage-e (assembled picture). Tatebanko-e are considered a type of omocha-e (toy print), although some scenes of kabuki, geisha, samurai, sumô and daily life are hardly "toylike," consisting of elaborate designs with numerous elements cut from large sets of individual ôban sheets. Other related terms include kumiage-dôrô ("assembled lanterns," although not actually "lanterns"), kinkumi-dôrô, and okoshi-e.

Tenpô: Era name for I/25/1830 – II/17/1844

Tenpô kaikaku: "Tenpô Reforms," governmental regulations of 1842-1847 initiated by Mizuno Tadakuni (1774-1851), chief councilor to the shogun Tokugawa Ieyoshi. Among various restrictions, they banned actor prints and virtually halted print production in Osaka for five years (Edo ukiyo-e fared better with its alternate subject matter, such as bijin-ga and landscapes). The reforms allowed only five theaters to operate in Osaka and banned the so-called "twenty-five bad customs in Osaka" by prohibiting such things as extravagance in displays, decorations, and dress. A gradual weakening of enforcement ensued despite reiterations in 1844 and 1845 by the government of its intention to continue the reforms, and by 1847 print production cautiously resumed. Nevertheless, Osaka publishers and artists failed to recapture the glory days enjoyed before the Tenpô kaikaku.

Tokugawa jidai: "Tokugawa period," synonymous with the "Edo Period," from 1603-1868, and coinciding with the long rule of the Tokugawa shogunate. Various years have been proposed for the start of the Tokugawa period. In the year 1603 Ieyasu declared himself seii-taishôgun ("commander-in-chief sent against the barbarians") and officially established his government (bakufu). However, some scholars use 1615, when the Tokugawa finally defeated the last serious resistance against their rule by destroying the Toyotomi clan at Osaka Castle. The year 1600 is also sometimes used, when Ieyasu won a decisive battle at Sekigahara near Kyoto and most daimyô capitulated.

Tokyo: "Eastern Capital," the modern name for the city of Edo, beginning on IX/13/1868; in the early Meiji period it was pronounced either as "Tokyo" or "Tokei."

tsuji banzuke: "Cross-street playbill," an advance publicity kabuki playbill posted at intersections (tsuji), bathhouses, and other public places where citizens were likely to gather. These ephemeral items featured the play and the cast of actors along with the opening day and month of the production, as well as an illustrated scene from each act. It concentrated less, however, on telling the full story through pictures than did the ehon banzuke.

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ukiyo: "Floating world," a term derived from Buddist terminology meaning "world of sadness" but suggesting something more like "this transient world" during the Edo period (with the connotations of "everyday world," "present reality," or "world of the here and now"). The earliest documented use of the term, when it meant "the here and now," was in the Taketori monogatari circa 850-950. It might be argued that there was a special, formalized reality represented by ukiyo-e prints and paintings, a sort of personal reality of the artist and his patrons constituting fanciful retellings of life in the "floating world," reflecting the culture, attitudes, and art of the Tokugawa townsmen. When alternate ideograms were used in the term it could be interpreted as "this sorrowful world," with more direct Buddhist or religious connotations. This, too, implied a "transitory world," but with the implication that the present "reality" was ephemeral, even an illusion, a preparatory stage before a more meaningful afterlife. Many writers have linked the two ways of writing ukiyo as two "opposites" of the same perception of transitory reality, the religious emphasis falling on the sorrow of daily life, the merchant emphasis on temporary escape and enjoyment, with neither view denying the pessimism experienced in an ephemeral world. Other critics argue, however, that the two terms were not actually used interchangeably at first, but only later became confused during the Tokugawa period, as early as the mid-eighteenth century. Furthermore, in the view of contemporaries such as the chief councilor (ryôjû shûza) Matsudaira Sadanobu (1758-1829), ukiyo-e artists were from a "debased school" (iyashiki ryû), "floating" in the sense of abandoning loftier themes in exchange for unregulated and undisciplined works.

ukiyo-e: "Prints of the floating world," a term first used around 1680 to designate woodblock prints. Widespread use, however, may have come only much later, perhaps well into the nineteenth century. In the Kamigata region, the term azuma-e ("art of the east," i.e., Edo) or azuma nishiki-e ("brocade prints of the East") may have been more commonly used to identify ukiyo-e prints. Edoites might have used the term nishiki-e rather than ukiyo-e before the nineteenth century.

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wagoto: "Soft matter," a style of acting closely associated with the Kamigata theater and characterized by a gentle, romantic style of acting. It was first introduced and developed in the Osaka-Kyoto theaters by Sakata Tôjûrô (1647-1709), who is often considered the greatest romantic male lead in the history of kabuki. Wagoto contrasts with the aragoto style more closely associated with the Edo kabuki theater. Wagoto involves a slightly effeminate expressiveness with a stylized walk, type of make-up, and method of body movement on the stage that distinguishes it from other acting styles. The terms seems to have been first used around the 1720s (in the 1710s the term yawarakagoto or "soft style" was used).

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yagô: "Shop name" or "house name," an actor's name associated with a particular sideline business, place, or theater, usually ending in ya. Actors occupied too low a place in Tokugawa society to assume surnames, but many took yagô associated with family enterprises, places of birth, temples, personal names, and so on. The practice of taking on yagô apparently began during Genroku (1688-1703), and it might have served in part as a way for actors to distinguish themselves from the other townsmen also without surnames.

yakusha: Actors on the kabuki stage. The literal meaning is "person" (sha) with a "job" or "function" (yaku), but within the context of ukiyo-e the term means "actor."

yakusha hyôbanki: "Actor critiques." Also called yarô hyôbanki or simply hyôbanki.

yakusha-e: "Pictures of actors" or "actor prints."

Yoshiwara: "Field of Rushes," Japan’s most celebrated licensed pleasure quarter (yûkaku or yûri). The Yoshiwara, along with the Shimabara of Kyoto and the Shinmachi of Osaka, was one of the three great licensed pleasure quarters of Japan. Located in Edo (old Tokyo), it began day-time operations in 1618 along a marshy riverfront. In 1626 the character for "rush" or "reed" (yoshi) was changed to a homophonic character meaning "good fortune," giving the quarter a more alluring name. In 1656 the district was moved to somewhat larger quarters near the popular Asakusa Temple and became known as the Shin Yoshiwara ("New Yoshiwara"), with business hours expanded to include activities during the night. The renowned courtesans of the Yoshiwara were the subjects of innumerable Edo ukiyo-e prints.

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zamoto: "Theater director or manager."  There were differences between zamoto in Edo (Kantô) and Osaka-Kyoto (Kamigata or Kansai). In Edo the zamoto were typically hereditary heads of licensed families who served as theater owners, lessors, or producers. They were sometimes actors, though rarely of the highest ranks, unlike the Kamigata zamoto, where the term meant actors of the highest rank who were also designated as theatrical producers on an annual basis. The term nadai was also used in Kamigata for "theater manager" or "theater owner." As a consequence Edo actors usually received income in salaries only (plus bonuses for the most successful), while the mangerial top-ranking Kamigata actors received income from both acting and producing. This dichotomy in theatrical arrangements paralleled the differences in regional social and political traditions, contrasting the hereditary autocracy in Kantô with the oligarchic individualized rule of the merchant class in Kamigata.