The Buddha in Yoshiwara: Religion and visual entertainment in Tokugawa Japan as seen through Kibyōshi

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Abstract

This article examines humorous portrayals of divinities in kibyōshi, a genre of satirical illustrated fiction that became popular in Edo in the late eighteenth century. Comical and irreverent appropriations of religious icons including kami, buddhas, and bodhisattvas constituted a common technique employed by kibyōshi artists to produce parodic effects. One of the most widely read genres in the latter part of the Tokugawa period, kibyōshi served as an important avenue through which people interacted with or “consumed” religious images in the early modern period. Although it is problematic to presume a direct historical link between kibyōshi and contemporary visual media such as manga and anime, the genre of kibyōshi represents a significant precedent in which religious icons served as key elements in popular entertainment. The article aims to historicize the relationship between religion and visual entertainment, which is a growing area of research in the study of religion in contemporary Japan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-254
Number of pages30
JournalJapanese Journal of Religious Studies
Volume44
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Kibyōshi
  • Manga
  • Parody
  • Popular culture
  • Religion and entertainment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies

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