Education About Asia

Familiar Story, Macbeth—New Context, Noh and Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood

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This article explores the effects of Akira Kurosawa’s adoption of Noh conventions through an in depth analysis of Kumonosu-jō (Castle of the Spider’s Web, also known as Throne of Blood, ©1957 Toho Company), an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Traditional Japanese Noh theater is an enigma to many students in other countries. Discussing the influence of Noh on a Japanese film based on a well-known Western drama makes a connection with a culture that is unfamiliar to students who have never been to Japan. Finding a familiar story within a new context not only fosters and strengthens students’ intellectual ability, but it also provides them with new insights into their perspectives. This process further challenges students to examine their preconceived notions about a culture that is different from their own. What stereotypical qualities do they often assign to people in Japan? Why do they make these assumptions? Challenging students’ assumptions about a “foreign” culture will help them think reflectively about complex and diverse social identities in their own culture as well as others. Learning about a foreign culture thus broadens students’ horizons and helps them realize that other ways of living and communicating are just as real as their own.

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