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Encyclopedia > Jidaigeki

Jidaigeki (時代劇) is a genre of film and television in Japan. The name translates as period drama, and the period is, in most cases, the Edo period of Japanese history. Set during the time span from A.D. 1600 to 1868, jidaigeki show the lives of the samurai, farmers, craftsmen and merchants of medieval Japan. Jidaigeki films are sometimes referred to as chambara movies, which derives from onomatopoeia for the slow, drum-heavy, march-like scores typical of the genre. A genre is any of the traditional divisions of art forms from a single field of activity into various kinds according to criteria particular to that form. ... Film refers to the celluloid media on which movies are printed Film is a term that encompasses motion pictures as individual projects, as well as the field in general. ... History of Japan Paleolithic Jomon Yayoi Yamato period ---Kofun period ---Asuka period Nara period Heian period Kamakura period Muromachi period Azuchi-Momoyama period ---Nanban period Edo period Meiji period Taisho period Showa period ---Japanese expansionism ---Occupied Japan ---Post-Occupation Japan Heisei The Edo period (江戸時代) is a division of Japanese... History of Japan Paleolithic Jomon Yayoi Yamato period ---Kofun period ---Asuka period Nara period Heian period Kamakura period Muromachi period Azuchi-Momoyama period ---Nanban period Edo period Meiji period Taisho period Showa period ---Japanese expansionism ---Occupied Japan ---Post-Occupation Japan Heisei Pre-History/The Origin of History Jomon Period Main... // Events January January 1 - Scotland adopts January 1st as being New Years Day February February 17 - Giordano Bruno burned in a stake for heresy July July 2 - Battle of Nieuwpoort: Dutch forces under Maurice of Nassau defeat Spanish forces under Archduke Albert in a battle on the coastal dunes. ... 1868 was a leap year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... Japanese samurai in armour, 1860 photograph. ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... The sound of hitting a ball can be described as Whack. In rhetoric, linguistics and poetry, onomatopoeia is a figure of speech that employs a word, or occasionally, a grouping of words, that imitates, echoes, or suggests the object it is describing, such as bang, click, fizz, hush or buzz... A film score is the background music in a film, generally specially written for the film and often used to heighten emotions provoked by the imagery on the screen or by the dialogue. ...

Contents


Kinds of Jidaigeki

Actor Kotaro Satomi as Mito Komon
Actor Kotaro Satomi as Mito Komon

Many jidaigeki take place in Edo, the military capital. Others show the adventures of people wandering from place to place. The long-running television series Zenigata Heiji and Abarembo Shogun typify the Edo jidaigeki. Mito Komon, the fictitious story of the travels of the historical daimyo Tokugawa Mitsukuni, and the Zatoichi movies and television series, exemplify the travelling style. Japanese person Actor Kotaro Satomi as Mito Komon at Toei Uzumasa Studios Kyoto Japan 2002 I took this photograph and contribute my rights in it to the public domain. ... Japanese person Actor Kotaro Satomi as Mito Komon at Toei Uzumasa Studios Kyoto Japan 2002 I took this photograph and contribute my rights in it to the public domain. ... Edo (Japanese: 江戸, literally: bay-door, estuary), once also spelled Yedo or Yeddo, is the former name of the Japanese capital Tokyo. ... Lantern, Megumi (Firefighting company), Abarenbo Shogun Abarenbo Shogun (暴れん坊将軍) was a Japanese television program on the TV Asahi network. ... Daimyo Matsudaira Katamori visits the residence of a retainer. ... Tokugawa Mitsukuni (徳川光圀; July 11, 1628 - January 14, 1701) was a prominent daimyo who was known for his influence in the politics of the early Edo period. ... Zatōichi (座頭市) is a fictional character featured in a series of Japanese films, and a television series, set in the Edo period. ...


Another way to categorize jidaigeki is according to the social status of the principal characters. The title character of Abarembo Shogun is Tokugawa Yoshimune, the eighth Tokugawa shogun. The head of the samurai class, Yoshimune assumes the disguise of a low-ranking hatamoto, a samurai in the service of the shogun. Similarly, Mito Komon is the retired vice-shogun, accompanied by two samurai retainers while masquerading as a merchant. In contrast, the title character of Zenigata Heiji is a commoner, working for the police, while Ichi, a masseur, is an outcast. Tokugawa Yoshimune (November 27, 1684–July 12, 1751) was the eighth shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, known for his financial reform. ... The Tokugawa shogunate or Tokugawa bakufu (徳川幕府) (also known as the Edo bakufu) was a feudal military dictatorship of Japan established in 1603 by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family until 1868. ... In Japanese history, a shōgun (将軍) was the practical ruler of Japan for most of the time from 1192 to the Meiji Era beginning in 1868. ... A hatamoto (旗本) is an official guard of a daimyo or shogun in feudal Japan. ... A commoner, in British law, is someone who is neither the Sovereign nor a noble. ...


Whether the lead role is samurai or commoner, jidaigeki usually reach a climax in an immense sword fight just before the end. This earns them the nickname chambara. The title character of a series always wins, whether using a sword or a jitte (the device police used to trap, and sometimes to bend or break, an opponent's sword). A jitte, or jutte (Japanese: 十手; the power of ten hands weapon), is a specialized weapon used by law enforcement officers in Edo period Japan. ...


Roles in Jidaigeki

Jidaigeki are a parade of people with occupations unfamiliar to modern Japanese, and especially to foreigners. Here are a few.


Warriors

The warrior class included samurai, hereditary members in the military service of a daimyo or the shogun (themselves samurai). Rōnin, samurai without masters, were also warriors, and like samurai, wore two swords; they were, however, without inherited employment or status. Bugeisha were men who aimed to perfect their martial arts, often by travelling throughout the country. Ninja were the secret service, specializing in stealth, the use of disguises, explosives, and concealed weapons. Graves of 47 Ronin at Sengakuji A ronin (Japanese: 浪人 rōnin: literally, wave man - one who is tossed about, like a wave in the sea) was a masterless samurai during the feudal period of Japan that lasted from 1185 to 1868. ... A ninja on the cover of Black Belt magazine. ...


Craftsmen

Craftsmen in jidaigeki included metalworkers (often abducted to mint counterfeit coins), bucket-makers, carpenters and plasterers, and makers of woodblock prints for art or newspapers.


Merchants

In addition to the owners of businesses large and small, the jidaigeki often portray the employees. The bantō was a high-ranking employee of a merchant, the tedai, a lower helper. Many merchants employed children, or kozō.


Governments

In the highest ranks of the shogunate were the rojū. Below them were the wakadoshiyori, then the various bugyō or administrators, including the jisha bugyō (who administered temples and shrines), the kanjō bugyō (in charge of finances) and the two Edo machi bugyō. These last alternated by month in the role of chief administrator of the city. Their role was mayor, chief of police, and judge, and jury in criminal and civil matters.

Ban'ya, Toei Uzumasa Studios
Ban'ya, Toei Uzumasa Studios

The machi bugyō oversaw the police and fire departments. The police, or machikata, included the high-ranking yoriki and the dōshin below them; both were samurai. In jidaigeki, they often have full-time patrolmen, okappiki and shitappiki, who were commoners. (Historically, these people were irregulars, called to service only when necessary.) Zenigata Heiji is an okappiki. The police lived in barracks at Hatchōbori in Edo. They manned ban'ya, the watch-houses, throughout the city that had a million residents. The jitte was the symbol of the police, from yoriki to shitappiki. Banya, Jidaigeki set, Toei Uzumasa Studios, Kyoto, Japan 2002 I took this photograph and contribute it to the public domain. ... Banya, Jidaigeki set, Toei Uzumasa Studios, Kyoto, Japan 2002 I took this photograph and contribute it to the public domain. ...


A separate police force handled matters involving samurai. The ōmetsuke were high-ranking officials in the shogunate, and controlled a group of metsuke and kachi-metsuke who could detain samurai. The feudal nature of Japan made these matters delicate, and jurisdictional disputes are common in jidaigeki.


Edo had three fire departments. The daimyo-bikeshi were in the service of designated daimyo; the jōbikeshi reported to the shogunate; while the machi-bikeshi, beginning under Yoshimune, were commoners under the administration of the machibugyō. Thus, even the fire companies have turf wars in the jidaigeki.

Licensed quarter on a set at Toei Uzumasa Studios, Kyoto
Licensed quarter on a set at Toei Uzumasa Studios, Kyoto

Each daimyo maintained a residence in Edo, where he lived during sankin kotai. His wife and children remained there even while he was away from Edo, and the ladies-in-waiting often feature prominently in jidaigeki. A high-ranking samurai, the Edo-garō, oversaw the affairs in the daimyo's absence. In addition to a staff of samurai, the household included ashigaru (lightly armed warrior-servants) and chūgen and yakko (servants often portrayed as flamboyant and crooked). Many daimyo employed doctors, goten'i; their counterpart in the shogun's household was the okuishi. Count on them to provide the poisons that kill and the potions that heal. Jidaigeki dummy Toei Uzumasa Studios Kyoto Japan 2002 I took this photograph and contribute it to the public domain. ... Jidaigeki dummy Toei Uzumasa Studios Kyoto Japan 2002 I took this photograph and contribute it to the public domain. ... Sankin kōtai (参勤交代) was a policy of the shogunate during most of the Edo period of Japanese history. ... The Japanese Ashigaru (足軽) were foot-soldiers of medieval Japan. ...


The cast of a wandering jidaigeki encountered a similar setting in each han. There, the karō were the kuni-garō and the jōdai-garō. Tensions between them have provided plots for many stories. The Han (è—©) were the fiefs of feudal clans of Japan that existed during all the Edo period and for a few years after the Meiji Restoration. ...


What would a jidaigeki be without characters to give the flavor of the times? Jugglers, pedlars, fortune-tellers, candy-sellers, rag-pickers, blind moneylenders, itinerant singer/shamisen-players, effete courtiers from the imperial capital at Kyoto, the Dutch kapitan from Nagasaki, streetwalkers and prostitutes from the licensed and unlicensed quarters, the million-dollar kabuki actor, flute-playing mendicant Buddhist priests wearing deep wicker hats, and of course geisha, provide a never-ending pageant of old Japan. In its general sense, juggling can refer to all forms of artful or skillful object manipulation. ... Blind can refer to: The state of blindness, being unable to see A window blind, a covering for a window A hide used to conceal the observer when watching or hunting birds or other animals is sometimes called a hunting blind A blind bet in certain forms of poker A... Moneylending is a trade in which money is lent to individuals and corporations. ... Kitagawa Utamaro, Flowers of Edo: Young Womans Narrative Chanting to the Samisen, ca. ... Courtiers follow an ancient profession. ... This page is about the city Kyoto. ... Megane-bashi (Spectacles Bridge) Nagasaki  listen? (長崎市; -shi, literally long peninsula) is the capital and the largest city of Nagasaki Prefecture located at the south-western coast of Kyushu, Japan. ... An example of street prostitution. ... Prostitution is the sale of sexual services, such as oral sex or sexual intercourse, for money. ... The Kabukiza in Ginza is one of Tokyos leading kabuki theaters. ... Statues of Buddha such as this, the Tian Tan Buddha statue in Hong Kong, remind followers to practice right living. ... Roman Catholic priest LCDR Allen R. Kuss (USN) aboard USS Enterprise A priest or priestess is a holy man or woman who takes an officiating role in worship of any religion, with the distinguishing characteristic of offering sacrifices. ... Women dressed as maiko (apprentice geisha) in Kyoto, Japan Geisha (芸者 person of the arts) are traditional Japanese artist-entertainers. ...


Clichés in Jidaigeki

Authors of jidaigeki grasp every opportunity to work clichés into the dialog. Here are a few:

  • Tonde hi ni iru natsu no mushi: Like bugs that fly into the fire in the summer [, they will come to their destruction]
  • Shishi shinchū no mushi: A wolf in sheep's clothing (literally, a parasite in the lion's body)
  • Kaji to kenka wa Edo no hana: Fires and brawls are the flower of Edo
  • Ōedo happyaku yachō: "The eight hundred neighborhoods of Edo"
  • Tabi wa michizure: "Travel is who you take with you"

In addition, the authors of series invent their own clichés in the kimarizerifu that the protagonist says at the same point in nearly every episode. In Mito Komon, a sidekick holds up an accessory bearing the shogunal crest and shouts, Hikae! Kono mondokoro ga me ni hairan ka?: "Down! Can you not see this emblem?" Likewise, Tōyama no Kin-san bares his tattooed shoulder and snarls, Kono sakura fubuki o miwasureta to iwasane zo!: "I won't let you say you forgot this cherry-blossom blizzard!" After sentencing the criminals, he proclaims, Kore ni te ikken rakuchaku: "Case closed."


The kimarizerifu betrays the close connection between the jidaigeki and the comic-book superhero. Superman (left) and Batman, two of the most recognizable and influential superheroes. ...


Famous Jidaigeki

Films

Six of The Seven Samurai. ... Yōjimbō 用心棒 is a 1961 film by Akira Kurosawa, in which a ronin, portrayed by Toshiro Mifune, arrives at a small town with competing crime lords making their money from gambling, and convinces each crime lord to hire him as protection from the other. ... Tsubaki Sanjûrô (known outside Japan as: Sanjuro) is a 1962 black and white Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa. ... Zatōichi (座頭市) is a fictional character featured in a series of Japanese films, and a television series, set in the Edo period. ... Samurai I, subtitled Miyamoto Musashi, is the first film in the Samurai trilogy. ... Hanzo the Razor is a fictional character featured in the trilogy of Japanese jidaigeki films of the same name. ... Lone Wolf and Cub manga, Volume 1 (English version) Lone Wolf and Cub (known in Japan as Kozure ÅŒkami 子連れ狼) is a well-known gekiga or manga created by the writer Kazuo Koike and the artist Goseki Kojima. ... Lady Snowblood DVD cover Lady Snowblood (1973), starring Meiko Kaji, is a bloody, revenge-themed Japanese movie by Toshiya Fujita in which the daughter of a woman who was raped by bandits grows up to wreak revenge on her mothers violators. ...

Television series

Kita Machi Bugyō-sho, Toei Uzumasa Studios
Kita Machi Bugyō-sho, Toei Uzumasa Studios
  • Abarembo Shogun
  • Ude ni Oboe ga Aru
  • Edo o Kiru
  • Ōedo Sōsamō
  • Ōoka Echizen
  • Onihei Hanka-chō
  • Kage Dōshin
  • Kage no Gundan
  • Gokenin Zankurō
  • Kenkaku Shōbai
  • Zatoichi (television series)
  • Sambiki ga Kiru!
  • Jitte-nin
  • Shogun Iemitsu Shinobi Tabi
  • Shinsen gumi Keppūroku
  • Zenigata Heiji
  • Taiga drama (NHK annual series)
  • Chōshichirō Edo Nikki
Sento, Toei Uzumasa Studios
Sento, Toei Uzumasa Studios
  • Tenamon'ya Sando-gasa
  • Tenga Gomen
  • Tenga Dōdō
  • Tōyama no Kin-san
  • Hissatsu series
  • Mito Komon
  • Moeyo Ken
  • Momotarō-zamurai

Kita Machi Bugyo-sho Toei Uzumasa Studios Kyoto Japan Jidaigeki 2002 I took this photograph and contribute it to the public domain. ... Kita Machi Bugyo-sho Toei Uzumasa Studios Kyoto Japan Jidaigeki 2002 I took this photograph and contribute it to the public domain. ... Taiga drama (大河ドラマ) is the name NHK gives to the annual, year-long historical fiction television series it broadcasts in Japan. ... NHK NHK (日本放送協会, Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai), or Japan Broadcasting Corporation, is Japans public broadcaster. ... Sento Jidaigeki set Toei Uzumasa Studios Kyoto Japan 2002 I took this photograph and contribute it to the public domain. ... Sento Jidaigeki set Toei Uzumasa Studios Kyoto Japan 2002 I took this photograph and contribute it to the public domain. ...

Famous Directors

Names are in Western order, with the surname after the given name.

Kon Ichikawa (市川 崑 Ichikawa Kon) (born November 20, 1915, Mie Prefecture, Japan) is one of the better known Japanese film directors. ... Akira Kurosawa Akira Kurosawa (黒澤 明 Kurosawa Akira, also 黒沢 明) (March 23, 1910 – September 6, 1998) was a prominent Japanese director, producer, and screenwriter of films, many of which are considered highly influential worldwide classics. ...

Famous Actors and Actresses

Names are in Western order, with the surname after the given name.

  • Yoshimi Ashikawa
  • Kanjūrō Arashi
  • Shin'ichi Chiba (Sonny Chiba)
  • Makoto Fujita
  • Kimiko Ikegami
  • Kōji Ishizaka
  • Chiezo Kataoka
  • Shintarō Katsu
  • Morio Kazama
  • Kin'ya Kitaōji
  • Hitomi Kuroki
  • Ken Matsudaira
  • Hiroki Matsukata
  • Keiko Matsuzaka
  • Toshirō Mifune
  • Kunihiko Mitamura
  • Hiroaki Murakami
  • Akira Nagoya
  • Kichiemon Nakamura
  • Umenosuke Nakamura
  • Kō Nishimura
  • Hashizō Ōkawa
  • Teruhiko Saigō
  • Asao Sano
  • Kōtarō Satomi
  • Ryōtarō Sugi
  • Hideki Takahashi
  • Reiko Takashima
  • Masakazu Tamura
  • Ryō Tamura
  • Takahiro Tamura
  • Sanae Tsuchida
  • Eijirō Tōno
  • Ken Watanabe
  • Kinnosuke Yorozuya
  • Kaoru Yumi

Sonny Chiba Sonny Chiba, real name Shinichi Chiba (千葉真一 Chiba Shinichi, born January 23, 1939 in Fukuoka, Kyushu, Japan) is a martial arts actor, regarded by many as the Bruce Lee of Japan and hailed by Quentin Tarantino as the greatest actor to ever work in martial arts films. ... Shintarō Katsu (勝新太郎, Katsu Shintarō; November 29, 1931 – June 21, 1997; nicknamed Katsu-shin) was a Japanese actor. ... Ken Matsudaira (松平 健 Matsudaira Ken, born November 28, 1953) is a Japanese actor from Toyohashi, Aichi, Japan. ... Toshiro Mifune in Yojimbo Toshiro Mifune (三船 敏郎 Mifune Toshirō) (April 1, 1920 - December 24, 1997) was a Japanese actor who appeared in almost 170 feature films. ... Ken Watanabe (渡辺謙 Watanabe Ken) is a theatre, TV, and film actor. ...

External Links

  • A Man, a Blade, an Empty Road: Postwar Samurai Film to 1970 by Allen White on Greencine, this article discusses specific chambara films, their distinction from regular jidai-geki, and the evolution of the genre.
  • Jidai Geki - Introduction a good overview of the genre with lists of the films and links thorugh to individual reviews.

  Results from FactBites:
 
NodeWorks - Encyclopedia: Jidaigeki (1123 words)
Jidaigeki (時代劇) is a genre of film and television in Japan.
Set during the time span from 1600 to 1868 A.D., jidaigeki show the lives of the samurai, farmers, craftsmen and merchants of medieval Japan.
Jidaigeki films are sometimes referred to as chambara movies, which derives from onomatopoeia for the slow, drum-heavy, march-like scoress typical of the genre.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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