4 The 47 Ronin (Tokugawa)

From Hokusai's Kanadehon Chusingura

From Hokusai’s Kanadehon Chūshingura

For our study of the Tokugawa period (1600-1867) we are going to do something different. We will focus on a single event, the Akō Vendetta, also called the 47 Ronin, and later popularized in literature as Chūshingura (A Treasury of Loyal Retainers). Jumping right into the events of 1701-03, we will read both backwards and forwards from it to determine the organization of power, the mechanisms by which power was practiced, the fault lines and sites of resistance within that organization, and also ask the question of historical change: what sorts of practices and worldviews went into the event and what came out the other side. Finally, we will also ask our questions of the status of the Ako Vendetta for later periods, including contemporary Japan and the West.

For the first week learn (memorize) the terms. The names, dates, players, sites. We’ll need them later.

Readings week one:

  1. Hirano, The Dialogic Imagination, pp. 29-43. (Second book we purchased)
  2. Henry Smith II, “The Capacity of Chūshingura” pp. 1-12.
  3. Okado Denpachiro (from Sato, Legends of the Samurai)
  4. From 1998 Film Ronin (4 min):

Readings For Week Two:

  1. Debate on the Akō Vendetta (Sources)
  2. For Wed: Yamaga Sokō; Neo-Confucianism

Readings for Week Three:

  1. Mary Elizabeth Berry: “Samurai Trouble: Thoughts on War and Loyalty
  2. 47 ronin class slides
  3. “This ain’t no ancient culture….” — “Sometimes it is.”