iki chic of Edo


iki いき / イキ / 粋 / 意気 the CHIC of Edo

Shūzō Kuki 九鬼 周造 Kuki Shūzō, Kuki Shuzo,
(February 15, 1888 – May 6, 1941)
was a prominent Japanese academic, philosopher and university professor.

Kuki was the fourth child of Baron Kuki Ryūichi (九鬼 隆一) a high bureaucrat in the Meiji Ministry for Culture and Education (Monbushō). Since it appears that Kuki's mother, Hatsu, was already pregnant when she fell in love with Okakura Kakuzō (岡倉 覚三), otherwise known as Okakura Tenshin (岡倉 天心), a protégé of her husband's (a notable patron of the arts), the rumour that Okakura was Kuki's father would appear to be groundless.

The Structure of "Iki" 「いき」の構造, "Iki" no kōzō
... his masterpiece, (1930).

In this work he undertakes to make a phenomenological analysis of ‘iki’, a variety of chic culture current among the fashionable set in Edo in the Tokugawa period, and asserted that it constituted one of the essential values of Japanese culture.

Kuki argues that the Edo ideal of iki or "chic" has a threefold structure representing
he fusion of the "amorousness" (bitai) of the Geisha,
the "valor" (ikuji) of the samurai, and
the "resignation" (akirame) of the Buddhist priest.

The work for which Kuki is best known, " The Structure of Iki " is often regarded as the most creative work in modern Japanese aesthetics.
- source : wikipedia


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Edokko (江戸っ子, literally "child of Edo")
is a Japanese term referring to a person born and raised in Edo (renamed Tokyo in 1868). The term is believed to have been coined in the late 18th century in Edo. Being an Edokko also implied that the person had certain personality traits different from the non-native population, such as being assertive, straightforward, cheerful, perhaps a bit mercantile
... The majority of samurai in Edo were from the countryside, and Edokko satisfied themselves by looking down on them, referring them being yabo, the opposite of iki.

Iki いき, in Japan, roughly "chic, stylish"
The basis of iki is thought to have formed among urbane commoners (Chōnin) in Edo in the Tokugawa period.

Iki is sometimes misunderstood as simply "anything Japanese", but it is actually a specific aesthetic ideal, distinct from more ethereal notions of transcendence or poverty. As such, samurai, for example, would typically, as a class, be considered devoid of iki, (see yabo). At the same time, individual warriors are often depicted in contemporary popular imagination as embodying the iki ideals of a clear, stylish manner and blunt, unwavering directness. The term became widespread in modern intellectual circles through the book The Structure of "Iki" (1930) by Kuki Shūzō.

Iki, having emerged from the worldly Japanese merchant class, may appear in some ways a more contemporary expression of Japanese aesthetics than concepts such as wabi-sabi. The term is commonly used in conversation and writing, but is not necessarily exclusive of other categories of beauty.

Iki is an expression of simplicity, sophistication, spontaneity, and originality. It is ephemeral, romantic, straightforward, measured, audacious, smart, and unselfconscious.

Iki is not overly refined, pretentious, complicated, showy, slick, coquettish, or, generally, cute. At the same time, iki may exhibit any of those traits in a smart, direct, and unabashed manner.

Iki may signify a personal trait, or artificial phenomena exhibiting human will or consciousness. Iki is not used to describe natural phenomena, but may be expressed in human appreciation of natural beauty, or in the nature of human beings. Murakami Haruki (b. 1949), who writes in a clear, unflinching style— at turns sentimental, fantastic, and surreal— is described as embodying iki. In contrast, Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1972) writes in a more poetic vein, with a closer focus on the interior "complex" of his characters, while situations and surroundings exhibit a kind of wabi-sabi. That said, stylistic differences may tend to distract from a similar emotional subjectivity. Indeed, iki is strongly tied to stylistic tendencies.

Iki and tsū
The indefinite ideal of tsū (通) can be said to reference a highly cultivated but not necessarily solemn sensibility. The iki/tsu sensibility resists being construed within the context of overly specific rules about what could be considered as vulgar or uncouth.

Iki and tsu are considered synonymous in some situations, but tsu exclusively refers to persons, while iki can also refer to situations/objects. In both ideals, the property of refinement is not academic in nature. Tsu sometimes involves excessive obsession and cultural (but not academic) pedantry, and in this case, it differs from iki, which will not be obsessive. Tsu is used, for example, for knowing how to properly appreciate (eat) Japanese cuisines (sushi, tempura, soba etc.). Tsu (and some iki-style) can be transferred from person to person in form of "tips." As tsu is more focused in knowledge, it may be considered superficial from iki point of view, since iki cannot be easily attained by learning.

Iki and yabo
Yabo (野暮) is the antonym of iki.
Busui (無粋), literally "non-iki," is synonymous to yabo.

Iki and sui
In the Kamigata or Kansai area, the ideal of sui is prevalent. Sui is also represented by the kanji "粋". The sense of sui is similar to iki but not identical, reflecting various regional differences. The contexts of their usages are also different.

More references and links
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !


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People born and raised in Tokyo are sometimes referred to as "Tokyokko" ("people of Tokyo"), but not very often. They are usually referred to as "Edokko" ("people of Edo," Edo being Tokyo's name in premodern times). The word expresses nostalgic admiration for the old life and ways, and the pride that comes from being able to trace one's household or lineage back to the Edo period (1603-1868) and from possessing a certain quality that sets one apart from people born in the provinces.

Boisterous, Quick-Tempered, but Lovable
The word Edokko is said to have made its first appearance in 1771 in a senryu (a humorous and/or satirical poem):
"Edokko no / waranji o haku / rangashisa."
The gist of the poem, a commentary on the Edokko character and behavior, is that Edokko are noisy even when they are wearing straw sandals. These cantankerous townsfolk were supposedly so impatient that they were unwilling even to take the time to tie the cords of their sandals, so their approach was heralded by a noisy flapping sound.

The Edo period writer Santo Kyoden (1761-1816), who depicted the pleasure quarters and popular customs of the day, made reference to Edokko in the 1787 Tsugen somagaki ("A Dilettante's Report on the Top Brothels"), one of the genre known as sharebon ("witty books") that portrayed life in the pleasure quarters. As Kyoden wrote in this book, Edo denizens had a superiority complex born of living in close proximity to, and drinking the same water as, the shogun. Kyoden portrayed the trueborn Tokyoite as someone who lived in the Nihonbashi district and who never let the sun rise on his earnings.

So has this character known as the Edokko been around since the time of Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616), the warrior chieftain who established the Tokugawa shogunate and chose Edo as its headquarters? Edokko were not yet around in the early part of the eighteenth century. In 1590, when Ieyasu began constructing the new castle town, he gathered merchants and craftsmen from places including Mikawa and Suruga, which he ruled; Kyoto, Japan's capital at the time; and Osaka, the nation's commercial hub. The merchants and artisans who came to Edo did not refer to themselves as Edokko. Most of them merely viewed themselves as being on temporary assignment or business travel to their branch locations in Edo. On an everyday basis, they spoke their provincial dialects and made little effort to familiarize themselves with the culture or customs of Edo, which was not yet the capital.

However, in the latter half of the eighteenth century, the merchants and craftsmen who had taken up residence in the new capital came to form a composite picture of the classic Edo denizen. The characters who made up the picture included the merchants along the riverbanks; the craftsmen and merchants of Nihonbashi; the moneylenders of the Kuramae district in Asakusa; and the masters of shops in Shinkawa, Reiganjima, and the lumberyard district of Kiba.
These people were the Edokko who emerged in the late 1700s. People like them formed the distribution mechanism via which money and goods flowed into Edo under the revenue-increasing economic policies of Tanuma Okitsugu (1720-1788), a high official in the Tokugawa government. The new capital's economy, heretofore dominated by the economies of Kyoto, Osaka, and vicinity, was at last producing its own wealthy merchants, born and bred in Edo. These large merchants, blessed with financial freedom, had no need to boast or put on airs. Warriors and merchants mixed freely without regard to social station and expressed their style and connoisseurship in woodblock prints and the novelettes about the pleasure quarters known as sharebon. They established a unique Edo culture, distinguished not least by the steady, year-round whirl of festivals and temple and shrine visits. But after Tanuma fell out of power, the culture and creativity sparked by his energy were reined in by the belt-tightening reform policies of his successor, Matsudaira Sadanobu (1758-1829), who favored getting back to the basics of samurai government. The lively culture that had produced and then come to be defined by the Edokko went on the decline.

Starting in the late eighteenth century, the desolation of farming villages intensified, and an influx of farmers into the capital fueled a sharp increase in the ranks of Edo's lower classes. Some of these newcomers blended adeptly into Edo society and passed themselves off as Edokko, eventually far outnumbering the established residents who looked down their noses at the arrivistes.

This trend disrupted the social order of born-and-bred city dwellers and engendered feelings of anxiety, but rather than wreak havoc, the new arrivals adopted the Edokko attitude.

The Late Edo period: When True Edokko Were a Rarity

In the nineteenth century, the new Edokko formed the nucleus of a new culture, known as "Kasei culture," that was centered on the townspeople. Particularly flourishing elements of this society included shrine visits, festivals and fairs, and flower-viewing and snow-viewing parties. These events and pastimes were supported by the publication of guides to the new hotspots for enjoying them, and pleasure trips and circuit pilgrimages became all the rage. Ukiyo-e (woodblock prints depicting scenes of everyday life) by artists like Hokusai (1760-1849) and Hiroshige (1797-1858) with their daring composition and lavish kabuki productions characterized by ghost stories or quick-change artistry can also be cited as defining elements of this culture. In contrast with the privileged culture of the Tanuma days, the culture that flowered in this era was amenable to enjoyment by the large numbers of people who had flocked to Edo. That is why the commercialization and popularization of culture are said to have taken place during this era.

By the end of Japan's feudal era, large numbers of people were referring to themselves as Edokko, and a definition of Edokko was spelled out. A true Edokko was defined as a child of two Edo-born parents. A person with one Edo-born parent was said to be madara ("speckled" or "striped"), and someone whose parents were both born outside Edo was an inakakko ("country child").
Under that definition, true Edokko were said to account for only 1 in 10 Edo residents.

- source : web-japan.org/tokyo/know- / Shousei Suzuki


A TV program about 粋 IKI

- source : www.tbs.co.jp

The Chinese character for IKI 粋 is also read SUI.


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According to Henry Dreyfus,
Japanese, in contrast with Westerners, grasp colors on an intuitively horizontal plane, and pay little heed to the influences of light. Colors whether intense of soft, are identified not so much on the basis of reflected light or shadow,
but in terms of the meaning or feeling associated with them.
The adjectives used to describe colors, like
iki (sophisticated or chic),
shibui (subdued or restrained), or
hannari (gay or mirthful),
tend to be those that stress feelings rather than the values of colors in relation to each other.
. 色 - The five colors of Buddhism .


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The beauty of ‘man’-kind
by Yoko Haruhara

Iki, the practice translated roughly into English as “cutting-edge taste and innovation,” was the passion of the day. Fearful of rebellion from the populace, the shogunate clamped down on public freedom, issuing a series of sumptuary laws from the early 1600s through the Edo Period. Those laws forbade townspeople from engaging in acts of conspicuous consumption, including wearing luxurious garments and displaying tattoos. But the restrictions ironically contributed to a flourishing of commoner culture, as people became increasingly bold in circumventing the laws.

The sudden fervor for tattoos — sparked in part by the acclaim of an 1827 series of prints by the woodblock artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) that depicted courageous warriors covered in fanciful multi-colored tattoos — is a prime example of the Edoites’ pursuit of iki.
. nanshoku、danshoku 男色 homosexuality in Edo .


Famous places and IKI on stamps

歌川広重  --  「名所江戸百景 するがてふ」     
喜多川歌麿 --  「婦女人相十品 文読む女」 Woman reading a letter     
歌川広重  --  「名所江戸百景 神田紺屋町」     
東洲齋写楽 --  「三代沢村宗十郎の大岸蔵人」     
歌川広重 --  「名所江戸百景 浅草田甫 酉の町詣」 
喜多川歌麿 --  「錦織歌麿形新模様 白うちかけ」   
歌川広重 --  「名所江戸百景 王子滝の川」     
東洲齋写楽 --  「谷村虎蔵の鷲塚八平次」 Washizuka Happeiji (Yaheiji)       
歌川広重 --  「名所江戸百景 上野山した」     
喜多川歌麿 -- 「名所腰掛八景 ギヤマン」gyaman
- - - gyaman (diamond) or kind of cut glass and 看板娘 kanban musume  

with explanations of the places and persons.
- reference source : 7umi.com/10html/10furu -


bibliography on "iki" 粋, "to be cool" in a simplest equivalent:

- - - - - Iki Bibliography

Botz-Bornstein, Thorsten (1997). "Iki," Style, Trace: Shūzō Kuki and the Spirit of Hermeneutics, Philosophy East and West 47(4):554-580. Clark, John and Matsui Sakuko, trans. Reflections on Japanese Taste: The Structure of Iki by Kuki Shuzo (Sydney: Power Publications, 1997)

Clark, John (1998). Sovereign domains: The structure of 'Iki', Japan Forum10(2):197-209. Kosaka Kenji (1989). "An algebraic reinterpretation of Iki No Kozo (Structure of Iki)", The Journal of Mathematical Sociology14(4):293-304.

Mara, Michael. Kuki Shuzo: A Philosopher’s Poetry and Poetics (Hawaii 2004)

Mostow, Joshua S. “Utagawa Shunga, Kuki's 'chic,' and the construction of a national erotics in Japan,” Performing "Nation" Gender Politics in Literature, Theater, and the Visual Arts of China and Japan, 1880-1940, Brill 2008, pp. 383-424. Nara Hiroshi, Rimer, Thomas J., Mikkelsen, Jon Mark (2004). The Structure of Detachment: The Aesthetic Vision of Kuki Shūzō, Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.

Nishiyama, Matsunosuke. Edo Culture (Hawaii 1997)

Pincus, Leslie (1991). "In a Labyrinth of Western Desire: Kuki Shuzo and the Discovery of Japanese Being," boundary 2 18(3):142-156. Pincus, Leslie (1996). Authenticating Culture in Imperial Japan: Kuki Shūzō and the Rise of National Aesthetics, Berkeley CA: University of California Press. Mayeda, Graham (2006). Time, Space and Ethics in the Philosophy of Watsuji Tetsuro, Kuki Shuzo, and Martin Heidegger, New York: Routledge

Higaki Tatsuya (2014). "Deleuze and Kuki: The Temporality of Eternal Return and un coup de ds", Deleuze Studies 8(1):94-110.

- - - - - Japanese:

安田武 多田道太郎『『「いき」の構造』を読む』朝日選書132 1979

九鬼 周造「九鬼周造全集: 「いき」 の構造 ;「いき」の本質」『九鬼周造全集 第 第 1 巻 』天野貞祐, 澤瀉久敬, 佐藤明雄et. al.、岩波書店, (1980)2012

九鬼 周造「資料篇 (九鬼周造全集 別巻)」『九鬼周造全集 第 第 1 巻 』天野貞祐, 澤瀉久敬, 佐藤明雄et. al.、岩波書店, 2012

九鬼 周造『「いき」の構造 他二篇』 (岩波文庫) 文庫、岩波書店; 改版1979

Thanks to Yoshio Kusaba san!


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. Japanese Architecture - cultural keywords used in haiku .

. - Doing Business in Edo - 商売 - Introduction .

. senryu, senryū 川柳 Senryu poems in Edo .

- #iki #ikiedo -

1 comment:

Gabi Greve said...

Japanese Aesthetics エスセティクス - Nihon no bigaku 日本の美学

The most common terms for aesthetics and design will be introduced here.