About this same time, Honda was attending a performance of Matsukazé at the Osaka Nō Theater in Tennoji-Dogashiba at the invitation of a colleague fond of performing Nō chants himself. It was a production featuring Kanesuké Noguchi from Tokyo as shité with Yazo Tamura assisting him as waki. The theatre stood upon the eastern slope of Uemachi Hill between Tennoji and Osaka Castle. This had been a section of fine villas at the beginning of the Taisho period and was still a secluded area containing high-walled mansions. One of these functioned as a Nō theater under the auspices of the Sumitomo family.
Most of the guests were merchant princes, and Honda recognized many of them. As for the famous actor, the harsh-voiced Noguchi, Honda's colleague had warned him beforehand that, although his intonation might sound like a goose being strangled, Honda was not by any means to laugh. And he predicted that, ignorant of Nō though Honda was, once the play was underway he would suddenly find himself emotionally aroused.
Although Kanesuké Noguchi wore the mask of a beautiful young woman, his voice had nothing that would recall a woman's charms. It was a voice that made one think of the rasping together of rusty, discolored metal. Furthermore, his recitation was broken by interruptions, and his style of chanting seemed to be tearing the beauty of the words to shreds. But despite all this, the mood inspired was like the outpouring of a dark and ineffably elegant mist, like the sight of a moonbeam shining into a corner of a ruined palace to fall upon a mother-of-pearl furnishing. Because the light passed through a worn and ravaged bamboo blind, the elegance of the shattered fragments shone all the more.
Gradually, then, his harsh voice became far from irritating. Rather, one had the feeling that only through this harsh voice could one for the first time become aware of the briny sadness of Matsukazé and the melancholy love that afflicts those in the realm of the dead.
Steam Train at Shimbashi Station by Utagawa Hiroshige III (early 1870s). Source.
At last we reached Takasaki -- the place from which the celebrated "land steamer" started on its puffing way to Tokyo. That was the first time that I ever saw a railway train. It looked to me like a long row of little rooms, each with a narrow opening on to the platform.
It was late in the afternoon, and I was so weary that I have little recollection of anything except a scolding from Brother, because I, feeling that I was entering some kind of a house, stepped out of my wooden shoes, leaving them on the platform. Just before the train started, they were handed in at the window by an official whose special duty it was to gather all the shoes from the platform before the starting of every train. I went to sleep at once, and the next thing I knew we were in Tokyo.
Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto, A Daughter of the Samurai, page 117.
"Getting the betrothed of the Imperial Palace pregnant! Now there's an achievement! How many of these simpering lads nowadays are capable of anything like that? No doubt about it --- Kiyoaki's a true grandson of my husband's. You won't regret it even if you are jailed for it. At least they surely won't execute you," she said, obviously enjoying herself. The stern lines around her mouth were gone now, and she seemed aglow with a lively satisfaction, as if she had banished decades of stifling gloom, dispersing at a single stroke the enervating pall that had hung over the house ever since the present Marquis had become its master. Nor was she laying the blame on her son alone. She was speaking now in retaliation against all those others, too, who surrounded her in her old age, and whose treacherous power she could sense closing in to crush her. Her voice came echoing gaily out of another era, one of upheavals, a violent era forgotten by this generation, in which fear of imprisonment and death held no one in check, an era in which the threat of both was part of the texture of everyday life. She belonged to a generation of women who thought nothing of washing their dinner plates in a river where corpses went floating past. That was life! And now, how remarkable that this grandson, who seemed so effete at first glance, should have revived the spirit of that age before her very eyes.
Yukio Mishima, Spring Snow, Pocket edition, pages 278-9.
Shigeru Mizuki's manga Showa: A History of Japan 1926-1939 is at once a history of Japan's pre-war military build-up and an account of Mizuki's own childhood during those years. When he focuses on his own childhood neighbourhood he uses the same cartoon versions of his family and schoolmates you saw in NonNonBa. But for historical events he relies on hand-drawn facsimiles of news photographs, some of which you can easily find via Google image search. The ones above relate to the February 26 Incident, a rebellion of part of the Japanese Army in 1936. The cartoons appear on pages 444, 436 and 433 of the manga.
Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, one of Japan's Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry, lived around the year 700 and is heavily represented in the first great Japanese anthology the Man'yōshū. This carving was done around the year 1600, and now resides in the Saint Louis Art Museum. Look how the grain of the wood suggests the folds of his robe.
The Hermitage in Saint Petersburg has a remarkably good collection of netsuke. [Remarkable in so far as it's not in Japan. But it turns out that many of the world's museums have extensive collections of these little, highly portable, carvings.] This one represents a tayo, the chanter of the bunraku puppet theatre. Source.