Organized Panel Session
Travel, maps, and the categorization of space captivated city dwellers in early modern Japan. The shogun commissioned maps and cadastral surveys. Commercial publishers produced their own maps, guidebooks, and travel board games. The theatre, too, contributed to this wealth of materials. In Chikamatsu Monzaemon’s love suicide plays, characters circumnavigate Osaka to visit temples, traverse the theatre district, clamor over the banks of the city’s many rivers, and cross bridge after bridge. Famed for their musicality and lyricism, these travel scenes (michiyuki) were a highlight of the performances, a favorite among amateur chanters, and the most likely sections of the plays to be circulated in print.
In contrast to the maps created by the shogunate, which represented a static, immobile city, Chikamatsu depicted a city in motion. He gave his audience tours of the changing topography of the city as it swiftly developed at the start of the eighteenth century. In some instances, Chikamatsu’s plays were the first to depict new urban routes and thus played a crucial role in the creation of new famous places (meisho) that celebrated loved suicide. The performances of the plays shaped specific emotional responses to the places of interest through poetic associations, rhetorical devices, and the modeling of affective journeys on stage. This paper examines how the travel scenes acted as guides to the city so that spectators could re-enact the characters’ journeys and in doing so, map the sites into the collective memory of Osaka.