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The jidaigeki television series: myth, iteration and the domestication of the samurai hero

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2011, forty-two years since the popular jidaigeki (period drama) television series Mito Kōmon was first broadcast on Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS), would seem an appropriate historical juncture to reassess the cultural significance of the jidaigeki television series in post-war Japan. Many factors influence and determine the production and reception of cultural texts. This article, therefore, focuses on the two aspects of structure and ‘place’, and their relationship to content in the Japanese jidaigeki television series: at the structural level in terms of ‘iteration’ as a defining narrative pattern, and ‘place’ on two levels – first, the consideration of Edo as a time-space configuration of social relations and, second, the location of the television set in the home. Therefore, in this article, the Japanese jidaigeki television genre is being utilized as a methodological tool, to begin an introductory exploration into television's political role in reaffirming and perpetuating basic cultural beliefs and a sense of shared experience through pleasure. This article is also concerned with television's role in the domestic as a medium that reflects an expression of domesticity. Furthermore, through an analysis of the dominant ‘gendered reading formations’ of examples from the genre, I shall demonstrate how social problems related to patriarchal institutions raised by feminism and the changing expectations of women in Japanese society are ritualized in the formulaic structure of the jidaigeki television series.

Keywords: domestic; jidaigeki; samurai hero; soto/uchi; television

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Oriental and African Studies,University of London,

Publication date: 2011-09-01

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