Impact on Contemporary Culture

Mori Yoshitoshi, Mie o kiru

© 2001 The Estate of Mori Yoshitoshi

Mori Yoshitoshi, Mie o kiru ('Posturize'), a stencil print

Height: 696.000 mm
Width: 852.000 mm

Asia JA 1986.3-21.0494

When Japan began to modernize in the late nineteenth century, the position of Kabuki in society began to change. In general terms, it began to attempt to preserve its traditions, rather than being concerned with contemporary culture. As the cinema and other forms of theatre developed, Kabuki gradually lost its central place in popular culture. Today, Kabuki is still valued for its accomplished and handsome actors, but also because it preserves a piece of Japanese history.

Many popular Kabuki actors still remain in the public eye in Japan, appearing in films, commercials, musicals and popular TV series. However, Kabuki itself continues to exert a strange fascination. Modern novelists, poets, playwrights, artists and fashion designers have all found in Kabuki a uniquely colourful and vibrant antidote to the uniformity of contemporary culture. The creativity of Edo can seem just as exotic to modern-day Japanese as it does to Westerners.