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History of Humor: Modern Japan

  • By: Marguerite Wells
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Humor in modern Japan has always reflected the political and cultural evolution of its society. This entry traces this process from the Meiji period (1868–1912) onward. In 1868, after centuries of rule by the warrior class, the emperor was restored to power, moved into Edo Castle, and renamed the town Tokyo; Japan's modern age had begun. Legislation in the 1870s restricted and then abolished the status and rights of the warrior class. In this new era, the nation looked systematically to the rest of the world for models, setting itself to reform every aspect of its way of life, right down to eating habits and attitudes toward humor.

Very early, in 1872, officialdom issued its first policy statement about the theater, instructing three Kabuki playwrights and ...

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