KAWAGUCHI Matsutarô's novel Tsuruhachi and Tsurujirô (1934) gained popularity after it was adapted into a play and then into a film. This paper examined how the novel was received. In addition, it also clarified the fluid nature of Matsutarô's text by examining the problems of its adaptation and relationship to the Japanese performance art genre “geidômono.”
The main characters of Tsuruhachi and Tsurujirô are the performers of the Shinnai musical performance art. Together with The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums that follows Kabuki actors, Tsuruhachi and Tsurujirô has generally been considered the performance art genre's representative work. The performance art genre “geidômono” refers to the group of works that depict a world where performance holds a supreme value beyond any particular person. Undeniably, this work and the theatrical production of its predecessor The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums functioned as the impetus creating this genre. Nevertheless, this investigation has shown that while both of these works were treated as similar stories in their historical contexts, their structures greatly differ. Furthermore, Tsuruhachi and Tsurujirô has been considered an adaptation of the long-time Hollywood film Bolero. Clearly, portions have commonalities with Bolero, for instance, the setting, but Tsuruhachi and Tsurujirô's structure and character models differ distinctly from Bolero.