Growth of Japanese Culture

A Golden Age of Literature and Drama


Japanese Writing Systems

The Japanese also adopted their writing system from the Chinese. Chinese characters (symbols that stand for words) were used to represent Japanese words by the year 400. Some characters were also used as sounds.

-Note: Though the Japanese writing system was influenced by the Chinese, their language is more related to Korean

Japanese Drama

The Japanese have been practicing Shinto-related Drama since the 600's. 2 types of drama were later formed, by the names of noh and kabuki


DOB: Around the 1300's

Location: Japan

Gender: Mostly male

Bio: Noh was an early form of Japanese Drama. It was based around retellings of legends, and used advanced costumes(including elaborate masks), gestures, and music to do so.


DOB: Early 1600's

Location: Japan

Gender: Male

Bio: Kabuki was a younger form of Japanese drama. More informal than noh, it used heavy makeup and costumes to present a show. It was based around the lives of common people.

Literature in Japan

The Tale of Genji

Japan felt that they had learned enough from the Chinese by the 800's. Japan had developed a culture of its own. Lady Murasaki Shikibu embraced that, and created some of Japan's greatest literature.

The Tale of Genji is one of her most famous works. It tells about the life of a prince in the imperial court and is said to be the world's first signifigant novel.

Japanese Poetry

Most poets from Japan wrote about love or natural beauty. One of the most popular forms of poetry, called haiku, was generally short, lasting only 17 syllables if done correctly

Matsuo Basho

Matsuo Basho lived in Japan in the 1600's. His poems reflected principles of Zen.
An old silent pond...

Into the pond a frog jumps,

Splash! Silence again.

- A haiku by Matsuo Basho

Noh Theater

[Essential Question] What is unique about Japanese literature and drama?

[Review] What new forms of literature and drama did the Japanese develop?