Education About Asia: Online Archives

Teaching Traditional Japanese Arts and Literature through Film

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The touchstone of Japanese cinema,” writes Joan Mellen in her seminal work on Japanese cinema, The Waves at Genji’s Door, “is its constant preoccupation with history.”1 Certainly Japanese history is well represented and considered in its cinema.

There exist jidaigeki (Japanese period films) aplenty that ably present various historical periods and events. Tokugawa Japan, Heian Japan, Meiji Japan, etc. can all be studied by viewing films set during those eras. Yet because of the history of Japanese cinema, teachers of Asian culture can also use Japanese films in the classroom in order to study the traditional performing and visual arts of Japan.