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Between the Back and the Front: Male Love in Humorous Tales of the Edo Period

Abstract

The present article explores representations of male-male sexuality and eroticism in humorous tales of the Edo period. The point of departure for the discussion is the metaphor of ‘back’ and ‘front’, which delineated the sexual options available to a grown-up man, namely anal sex with males and vaginal sex with female partners. A brief preliminary overview of the custom of male love (nanshoku), which forms the unifying theme of the tales under discussion, is provided. After an introduction to the genre of Edo-period humorous tales (shōwa or kobanashi), the article centres on the depiction of male-male intercourse and eroticism in this type of literature, and argues that certain discrepancies, relevant from a gender perspective, become discernible in the respective representations of the two partners of a nanshoku relationship. It is shown how the metaphor of ‘back’ and ‘front’ is grounded in sexual practice, how it functioned and how it is employed for the achievement of a comic effect in the tales. The article then goes on to address the question of the extent to which male sexuality can be said to move ‘between the back and the front’, and some thoughts on gender and desire in the Edo period are offered.

Open access
The Kiwifruit Industry and Kiwifruit Production in Western Húnán

Abstract

This article is about kiwifruit production in the north-western part of Húnán province in central China. It provides an overview of the kiwifruit industry in China and traces the development of kiwifruit production in this specific region. It presents the results of a case study conducted at Jíshǒu University in Xiǎngxī Tǔjīa and Miáo Autonomous Prefecture. Situated in a poor and economically underdeveloped area, the university concentrates on local minorities and the development of the region. It has initiated many projects to help in lifting poverty, one of them being the Kiwifruit Project, which encourages local farmers to get actively involved in kiwifruit production and processing. The paper highlights the cooperation between the academic institution, an industrial partner and government agencies in this endeavour. It addresses the problems and challenges that the establishment of a kiwifruit industry in Xiǎngxī has faced over a run of more than two decades, shows solutions based on innovation as in the form of developing new breeds or the introduction of organic farming, and evaluates the socioeconomic as well as the ecological impact the project has had on the local society and environment.

Open access
Le sujet poétique dans l’œuvre de Lǐ Hè et dans celle de Rimbaud

Abstract

As an attempt to compare Lǐ Hè, a Chinese poet from the Táng Dynasty, and the French 19th century poet Arthur Rimbaud (in spite of a total lack of any traceable historical, cultural and inter-textual connections), this paper focuses on linguistic and stylistic phenomena serving as a proof for a striking resemblance between the two authors. Thus the first part of the article deals with effects of focalization, a specific conception of the metaphor as well as the status of the lyrical subject, establishing a theoretical basis for the concrete comparison presented in the second part. The conclusion is concerned with the question if the poems of Lǐ Hè can be translated into French by ‛adopting‟ Rimbaud‟s poetic language.

Open access
Social Dance (shakō dansu) in Japan: Between Sociability and Sport

Abstract

Since the film Shall We Dansu? (1996) and many TV shows, social dance has become known to a wider audience in Japan. Nevertheless, prejudices such as „That doesn‟t suit the Japanese‟ continue to exist, because the intimate body contact in ballroom dancing is hard to accept in a culture where „skinship‟ (body contact) is only important during childhood. For this reason, dance schools were under the law controlling Japanese entertainment and the sex industry until 1998. This article deals with the historical situation and cultural issues of social dance in Japan.

Open access
Tanuki: The ‘Badger’ as Figure in Japanese Literature

Abstract

The tanuki, largely misjudged in the Western world as a badger, is in fact a wild dog native to East Asia. Especially in Japan, this animal not only is represented in the local fauna but furthermore stars in the traditional lore as a kind of fabulous creature. Endued, according to popular beliefs, with magical powers, the artful shape-shifter willingly scares men to entertain himself. Folk tales too identify him as a rapscallion or a tease, but then out of gratitude he may act like a benefactor as well. This ambivalence in the figure of the tanuki, which ranges over the spectrum from a terrifying beast through a sottish fraud to a loyal friend, seems to have made him a popular subject for Japanese writers up to the present day. The way in which the rich heritage from folklore has eventually found expression in modern literature is the central issue of the present paper.

Open access
Ueno Park during Meiji Times – a Mirror of its Time: Discursive Space and Symbolic Representation of Modernity

Abstract

With the Great Council of State‟s 16th decree, the Meiji administration introduced the neologism kōen, „public park‟, to the Japanese language and the administrative system. One of the re-named parks was today‟s Ueno Kōen, which during the Meiji period changed with regards to character and appearance. It came to house the first modern museums, the first modern zoo, and the first public library. Industrial fairs were to be held in Ueno Kōen and a train station was built, connecting the rural north with Japan‟s capital. Meiji politicians re-designed the park grounds, in which today not only institutions of education, industry and modernity are located, but the highest number of homeless people in any one place in Tōkyō is to be found.

The research question, „What kind of space was constituted in the place Ueno Kōen during Meiji time?‟ is to be answered with the discourse theory of the German sociologist Reiner Keller and the theory on the social construction of space offered by the German sociologist Martina Löw. The article will show that Ueno Park was to become a spatial representation of Japan‟s modernisation process and of the policies of „enlightenment‟ and „rich country, strong army‟, bunmei kaika and fukoku kyōhei.

Open access