2018 Volume 17 Issue 1 Pages 35-53
The subject of modern Japanese “overflowing bodies” obscures the demarcation of performance order by choosing not to distinguish between “universal” or “local.” On the one hand, if we believe in the universal value of artistic activities by human beings and adopt a perspective derived from the awareness to discover what the body is and how it is represented in the context of “universal culture,” bodies and performances could not be categorized according to ethnicity though we could still admit a site-specific imagination. On the other hand, the concept of the “locality” of bodies and performances is based on an artistic approach that finds style in endemic and indigenous bodies and body movements, favoring an eccentric, unsophisticated, and premodern, local, or “rural” location. In short, “overflowing-ness” creates a tension between local and universal, national and transnational, site-specific and ubiquitous—that is, between inside and outside. This research note focuses on the permanency or transformation of bodies and performances, (ir-)respective of their Japanese contexts by taking three examples of various Japanese bodies in European locations in a global age. After Kosuge Hayato’s introduction, (1) Tanaka Rina engages with the relationship between the body image of an actress Ichiro Maki and authenticity in the Japanese adaptation of an Austrian musical. Secondly, (2) Miyagawa Mariko works with the matter of inheritableness of Butoh by taking some examples from the dancers who intend to copy Ohno Kazuo’s movements. (3) Hagiwara Ken focuses finally on some Japanese artists who have recently presented their works in Germany and deals with Japanese bodies in performances in the historical and contemporary context on site. Employing the different approaches to the theme “Japanese bodies” in the various types of theater performance, interdisciplinary discussions from diverse viewpoints from philosophy, choreography, theater, and performance studies, are provided. They could not be viewed as a single, fixed concept, but rather as a transitive flow, reflecting the contemporary, historical, or site-specific context of each performance. “Japanese bodies” present as a complex hybrid that could be interpreted and created by and for each individual actor/actress as well as the audience. In this framework, the multi-dimensional transition will be tracked, and consequently, “Japanese bodies” will come to light as a result of transition and globalization.