Growth of Japanese Culture
: A Golden age of Literature and Drama By Rhett Curtis
Japanese Writing Systems
Around 400, Japan adopted China's writing system. The Japanese started using Chinese characters and symbols to write their Japanese words. Similar to the Chinese, the Japanese their characters to stand for objects, actions, or ideas and they later had them stand for certain sounds. China was greatly influenced by China in their language.
Japanese Drama: Noh
Japan's tradition of drama dates back to the 600s which started with people performing Shinto dances at their religious shrines. Then in the 1300s they started performing a type of drama called noh. Noh was mainly retellings of legends and folktales. Performers would wear masks to show multiple emotions and used their costumes, music, and gestures to tell a story. Noh was performed by both common people, both upper classes, and mostly only men.
Japanese Drama: Kabuki
In the beginning of the 1600s, Kabuki started to be performed. It consisted of very dramatic singing and dancing with intense costumes and a lot of makeup. It was more informal than Noh and and the the themes were usually about common people. It used to be and still is performed only by men. Kabuki and Noh are still performed today.
The Tale of Genji
In the 800s the Japanese ended diplomatic relations with China because some of the Japanese leaders thought they had learned enough from the Chinese. The Japanese had decided create their own culture, adding onto what they had built up from China. Lady Murasaki Shikibu was one of the finest writers in Japan and she lived in the Emperors court in the early 1000s. She wrote a book about the life of a prince in the imperial court called The Tale of Genji. It is important because it was one of the first books that wasn't a myth or a legend.
Japanese poets mainly wrote about nature because that's what their religion was based on. A form of poetry they liked to write with is called haiku. A haiku consists of 17 syllables put into three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. A famous haiku writer who lived in the 1600s was Matsuo Basho. His poems had a spirit of zen in them, being very peaceful.