Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific
Issue 16, March 2008

Performing Father–Daughter Love:
Inoue Hisashi's Face of Jizo

Tomoko Aoyama

  1. It is generally agreed that the father–daughter relationship has suffered from a lack of attention for centuries in many cultures around the globe.[1] In the nuclear family, according to Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen, it is 'at once the most superfluous and the most revealing'[2] of all relationships, including those between husband and wife, parent and child, and siblings. Ramirez-Christensen continues:

      It is superfluous because the daughter's traditional structural role in the middle-class family has been negligible. She was not expected to carry on the father's name and patrimony, which belonged to the son. At best, she was her mother's helper, a temporary family member until marriage took her away to assume her proper structural role as wife and mother in another family. And yet it is just this ambiguity of the daughter's positioning as both insider and outsider that brings into focus the nature of the family as an artificial social construction constituted by the patriarchal imperative to perpetuate itself. Through marriage with another family's son, the daughter has been the necessary link in the formation of the social alliances that structure the community.[3]

    Despite this relative neglect and the 'virtual absence of critical studies,'[4] there are a number of conspicuous representations of father–daughter relations in mythology, drama, literature, and film. The daughter may not be the heir to the father's name and patrimony, but she can be the one upon whom her father's name, honour, and prosperity depend. In Greek drama, for example, Electra mourns her father Agamemnon and is determined to carry out vengeance upon his murderers, Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. The mourning daughter is a recurring motif, too, in Japanese classical drama and literature.[5] While there are a number of prominent examples of (semi-)incestuous relationships between father and daughter,[6] Emilia Galotti of Lessing's eponymous play (1772) asks her father to kill her to protect her virtue, an example of the many other 'father's daughters' who sacrifice themselves for the sake of their fathers. Although the notion of the Electra complex has never had the same kind of cultural and intellectual impact as the Oedipus complex, Jungian psychologist Kawai Hayao sees in the relationship of Chronos and Aphrodite an archetype of the father–daughter constellation in which the beautiful daughter signifies the hidden flexibility behind the cold and rigid consciousness of the father.[7]
  2. A daughter's marriage is one of the most common and important themes in literary and dramatic representations of father–daughter relationships. Genji monogatari [The Tale of Genji] and many other classic tales amply illustrate the crucial roles of the daughter's marriage in the father's political power on the one hand and the father's power on the daughter's marriage on the other. Marrying a daughter is the recurrent theme not only in classical tales but also in other genres and periods. In Ozu Yasujirō's celebrated films such as Banshun [Late Spring] (1949), and Sanma no aji (1962), (distributed in English as An Autumn Afternoon), the father is a widower living with a beautiful daughter who insists that she would rather stay single and look after her father than marry. Everyone around the pair, however, tries to persuade the father that it is his duty to find an appropriate husband for his sweet and beautiful daughter before it is too late and she becomes a sour old woman.[8] The discursive position is that the marriage is indispensable to the daughter's happiness. At the same time, however, Ozu's film and many other texts and performances suggest that marriage does not actually guarantee happiness for the daughter, even if it is regarded as vital, to reiterate Ramirez-Christensen, for the 'formation of the social alliances that structure the community.'
  3. The centrality of father–daughter love is obvious in Chichi to kuraseba, a play written by Inoue Hisashi for his theatre company Komatsuza.[9] Since its first performance in Tokyo in 1994, there have been more than a dozen stage productions of the play in Tokyo and regional theatres in Japan as well as in Paris (1997), Moscow (2001) and Hong Kong (2004).

    Figure 1. Poster for Komatsuza's 34th Production (1994) with the original cast of Suma Kei (father) and Umezawa Masayo (daughter).[10]
    Figure 2. Wada Makoto's poster for Komatsuza's 59th Production (2000-2001) with Oki Jun'ichirō (father) and Saitō Tomoko (daughter).[11]
    Figure 3. Wada Makoto's poster for Komatsuza's 77th Production (2005) with Tsuji Kazunaga (father) and Nishio Mari (daughter).[12]

    The play was published in 1998 in hardcover and the paperback edition came out in 2001.[13] In 2004 a film version, directed by Kuroki Kazuo, was released.[14] In the same year Komatsuza published a bilingual edition that included Roger Pulvers' English translation, which was used for a 2006 reading performance in Vancouver.[15] In addition to the English version, Komatsuza has published Italian and German translations.
  4. The title of the play, Chichi to kuraseba, literally means 'Living with My Father.' However, for his
    English translation Roger Pulvers chose The Face of Jizo, a title that is symbolic,[16] yet at the same time concrete, as it refers to one of the props that play a crucially important role in the final scene of the play. The significance of the father–daughter relationship is evident not only in the Japanese title but also in the Komatsuza posters and book covers, each of which shows the father and daughter, who are, in fact, the only characters that appear in this play. In the commentaries on the play and its various versions and performances, however, the father–daughter theme has been completely overshadowed—in a sense quite unsurprisingly—by another important issue: the play has been discussed, advertised, and consumed as an example of pacifist literature, or more specifically, an important addition to the genre of Hiroshima literature. It is by no means the aim of this paper to question the significance of Inoue's anti-war message; rather, it is to point out how the focus on father–daughter love in this play, in comparison to other similar plays and narratives, works to enhance the effectiveness of the anti-war theme. I shall also mention some performative differences among the stage performances, the written texts including translations, and the film.

    Figure 4. Wada Makoto's cover illustration for
    Pulvers' translation Face of Jizo.[17]

  5. Before embarking on my analysis, it may be useful to give a brief profile of the author. Inoue Hisashi (b.1934) is an extremely popular and prolific writer of more than fifty plays and numerous works of fiction, essays and commentaries. While 'serious' writers of his generation, as represented by the Nobel Laureate Ōe Kenzaburō (b. 1935), began their writing for non-commercial student journals and coterie magazines, Inoue started writing for vaudeville theatre and radio and television in the late 1950s, and by the early 1970s was a multi-award winning novelist–playwright. Revolt against the deadly serious is one of the prominent characteristics of his writing across genres; parody, slapstick comedy, and nonsensical word play abound in his works.[18] This revolt is closely connected to other characteristics of Inoue's novels and plays: the carnivalesque confusion and the reversal of hierarchical dichotomies such as centre/periphery, powerful/powerless, high/low, and noble/vulgar.
  6. Although Inoue's themes and interests cover an extremely wide range, one of the most notable, particularly in his relatively recent fiction and plays, is the impact of World War II upon people—both well-known historical figures (such as writer Hayashi Fumiko and rakugoka—i.e. traditional comic story tellers—Enshō and Shinshō) and 'ordinary' people. In this broad category Inoue has dealt with social issues and historical events such as the war-time internment of the Japanese in America and Australia,[19] the carpet bombing of Tokyo, general food shortages, censorship during and after the War, and the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Chichi to kuraseba, which deals with the horrendous and on-going tragedy of the atomic bomb dropped on the ordinary civilians of Hiroshima as viewed in 1948, certainly represents a part of Inoue's long-term project.
  7. The play is set not in 1945 but during the Occupation period—to be precise, from Tuesday to Friday of the final week of July 1948—with each of the four acts corresponding to one of the four days. Although the entire play consists solely of dialogues between father and daughter, this father has been absent and powerless until very recently—for he was killed on 6 August 1945. A phantom leading a living character into the dramatic world is a celebrated structure of a subgenre of theatre. Ghost stories form an important part of kabuki repertoires and other traditional performing arts including rakugo. It is also important to note that these ghost stories are associated with summer—i.e. July and August—particularly the bon festival (in the modern solar calendar usually 13–15 August, which coincides of course with the end of World War Two) that is held to console the spirits of the dead. Needless to say, Inoue is well aware of all these traditions and has utilised some of these conventions in his own plays. The father in Chichi to kuraseba, however, is not exactly a ghost but, as discussed in more detail later, a split persona of the surviving daughter Mitsue. This daughter, who works as a librarian, has met a young man called Kinoshita,[20] a scientist who is determined to collect melted and deformed objects that attest to the intensity of the heat created by the bomb. Although obviously interested in him, she cannot justify pursuing personal happiness because all her friends and family lost their lives in the blast three years earlier. The play relates the experiences and feelings of this father–daughter pair and their friends.
  8. The theme of a daughter's marriage (or her marriage prospects), as already mentioned, tends to occupy a central position in literature and drama dealing with the father–daughter relationship. Here it is combined with other themes concerning the aftermath of the atomic bomb. The combination reminds us of Ibuse Masuji's novel Kuroi ame [Black Rain] (1966), which is one of the most widely recognised examples of 'A–bomb literature.'[21] Both Ibuse (1898–1993) and Inoue are noted—though in their own ways, one tending to choose understatement and the other overstatement—for humorous and even comic writing.[22] This characteristic is much subdued in the A–bomb texts in question although still clearly discernible. We may also note the influential position of both writers within the bundan or 'literary world'—despite their pro-'ordinary' and anti-establishment stance.[23] Quite apart from the literary and artistic quality of the works in question, the combination of their power and popularity would certainly have assisted effective dissemination of their anti-war message. In these respects, too, it is interesting to compare the two texts.
  9. The marriage that forms the key part of the plot of Black Rain is not that of a daughter but of a niece. In fact, when an early version of the narrative was serialised in a literary magazine in 1965, it was titled Mei no kekkon [The Niece's Marriage]. Ibuse's protagonist, Shigematsu, and his wife, Shigeko, have no children of their own but live with their niece, Yasuko, whom they love like a daughter. The relationship between Shigematsu and Yasuko may therefore be regarded as a pseudo–father–daughter one. Finding a suitable husband for this niece five years after the war is a task of utmost importance to Shigematsu and Shigeko. In addition to its discursive indispensability to women's happiness, marriage signifies in this case physical, emotional, and psychological survival of the victims, surviving not only the destruction and the trauma directly caused by the bomb but also discrimination against the hibakusha. To be married is proof of a normal healthy life. However, in order to obtain this proof, Yasuko, or rather Shigematsu as her guardian and patriarch, will have to provide evidence of her good health not only to the prospective husband but to his family and relatives, the 'go-between' and the wider community. The marriage, however, never eventuates, because while Shigematsu is preparing various documents his niece becomes seriously ill, suffering from radiation sickness as a result of her exposure to the toxic 'black rain' five years earlier.
  10. Unlike Yasuko, Mitsue in Inoue's play does not show any signs of serious physical illness or disability. Neither does she need to prove her eligibility, for in contrast to the young man Yasuko was supposed to marry in Ibuse's novel, the young man, Kinoshita, is willing to share any difficulties with Mitsue, even if she and/or their children suffer from radiation sickness in the future. It is Mitsue who is reluctant to marry, despite the fact that she is in love with Kinoshita. Her father diagnoses that she is suffering from a disease called 'Guilt-ridden Survivoritis': 'The symptoms appear in people who have survived their friends and the patient is riddled with guilt and never forgives herself for being alive.'[24] Although the sheer scale of the physical destruction caused by the explosion of the atomic bomb plays an important role here, it is the surviving daughter's emotional and psychological state that prevents her from pursuing her own happiness. The father's task is to diagnose and help her cure this 'disease.' I will discuss how he performs this difficult task later, but for now let me return to my comparison of this play with Black Rain.
  11. Black Rain is by no means a simple, 'monolithic' narrative; as Sakaki Atsuko points out in her insightful analysis of the narrative performance of Ibuse's text,[25] it consists of a number of texts within the primary narrative, mostly diaries, journals, and written documents. These embedded texts, and the protagonists' acts of copying, quoting, and commenting on them, suggest that 'narratives are always versions, rather than representations, of the truth.'[26] The reader encounters example after example of truth suppressed or only partially revealed for a variety of socio-political and personal reasons. These reasons range from the censorship policies of Japanese officialdom or the Occupation Forces and resistance by 'ordinary' civilians to such authorities, to the uncle's and aunt's wish to protect their niece's marriage prospects by not revealing the full truth about her health. As Sakaki concludes, 'we are moved not only by the significance of the incident that is retold but also by the passion and persistence of the writers and readers inside the text.'[27]
  12. In Ibuse's Black Rain, there is a hint of 'a mistrust of orality,'[28] particularly hearsay and rumour. Besides, spoken words disappear whereas written documents remain, or at least have the potential to do so. In many of Inoue's texts, however, while there is a 'passion and persistence' similar to that shown by the intra-diegetic readers and writers in Black Rain,[29] there is no mistrust of orality. On the contrary, Chichi to kuraseba, in particular, appeals to the audience to trust in and conserve orality. Given that this is a play to be performed rather than a novel to be read, this emphasis on orality is at least partly understandable. Such an emphasis, moreover, operates to heighten the volume, extent and complexity of the intertextuality in the play. A number of oral texts are embedded in the dialogue or monologue of the dead father and living daughter, many of which are imbued with high performativity. For instance, rumours and hearsay about friends—both living and dead—repeatedly feature in exchanges between the pair. In this way the dialogue becomes polyphonic, also incorporating the reader/audience. Only through the recounting of these rumours, regardless of their accuracy, do we understand how individual bomb victims suffered, and how their deaths and suffering affect the survivors.
  13. A key point of the play is how the transience of the spoken language can be used as a weapon against censorship. When Mitsue is practising to perform at a Children's Summer Storytelling Club meeting, her father suggests that she should 'slip' some references to the atomic bomb into some well-known folk tales, using the deformed objects Kinoshita has collected as props. Modification of these earlier children's texts, however, is an issue that divides the father and the daughter. As a student, Mitsue was actively involved in collecting and conserving the folktales of the region. In response to her father, who suggests ways to modify the story she is practising to make it something more entertaining and relevant to contemporary children, she protests:

      MITSUE (shouting) You can't fiddle with a story like that! You gotta relate the older generations' stories to people who come after them as they are, faithfully. That's the philosophy of the Folktale Research Club at Hiroshima College for Women.[30]

    It is an intended irony that Inoue, who is famous for his parody, pastiche and travesty, has his character remonstrate thus against 'fiddling' with earlier texts. Mitsue's enthusiasm for the study of folklore, in particular, reminds us of Inoue's much earlier work Shinshaku Tōno monogatari [The Legends of Tōno, A New Interpretation] (1976), which is a parody of the folklorist Yanagita Kunio's (1875–1962) pioneering work Tōno monogatari (1912). Yanagita 'emphasised how sincere, if not eloquent, his informant … was, and that he himself as its collector had neither added nor omitted anything but believed the awesome power of these folk-tales from northern Japan.'[31] With his 1976 'New Interpretation' of the Tōno legends, Inoue demonstrated how it is possible to produce a parody that is full of love and respect for the original text but at the same time is comic and creative. We may also note that Tōno is in Iwate Prefecture, which is the hometown of Kinoshita and Mitsue's favourite writer Miyazawa Kenji, as will be discussed below. The complex intertextuality of Chichi to kuraseba, however, may not necessarily be recognised by every reader and audience; in translated versions most of these references are lost, replaced, or modified.
  14. In this play, it is the daughter rather than the father who represents the moral principle. She also knows better than her father—quite unsurprisingly, given that he was killed before the end of the War—'how powerful the occupation army is'[32] and how it would be impossible to make any reference to the bomb in a public situation such as the storytelling session. To this the father replies:

      TAKEZO … You'll be telling your stories to the kids and the wind will rise and carry your words here, there and everywhere. They will enter the hearts of those kids and come out, riding the wind straight up to the sky where they will turn into little rainbows. There will be no proof, just the Hiroshima wind that is fighting for you, blowing through the hills of Hijiyama.[33]

    The father certainly has the 'passion and persistence' to make his daughter tell the 'real' stories—for he is more than doubly motivated. First he has his mission to hand down the oral history of the A–bomb tragedy to subsequent generations—against all odds, especially the prevailing censorship. And using the objects Kinoshita has collected will please the collector, who is having difficulty storing these highly disturbing objects in his rented room. Under the control of the Occupation Forces it is impossible to take these objects to the library where Mitsue works or to any other institution. For Mitsue to take custody of these objects and use them actively in her performance will enhance the trust and love between herself and Kinoshita, which, in the father's mind, will ensure his daughter's happiness. With all these motives, he incites Mitsue to trick the authorities, thus tying the father–daughter love of this text to another familiar theme in Inoue's work.
  15. The above quotation of the father's explanation has a fairy tale-like quality and style, with some of the key words such as the wind, the sky, the rainbows and the hills, reminding the reader or audience who is familiar with Inoue's other work of his deep admiration for the poet and writer of fantasy tales, Miyazawa Kenji (1896–1933).[34] In fact, Miyazawa Kenji is cited later in the play, though not by the father but by the daughter. She tells her father that Kinoshita has invited her to visit his parents in Iwate during summer holidays and that she has always wanted to go to Iwate because it is the home of Miyazawa Kenji. The father, however, does not recognise the name. The daughter, who is a librarian and much more literate than her father, explains to him who Kenji is,[35] reciting a few lines of her favourite Kenji poem.
  16. Despite his 'passion and persistence,' the father's idea of using children's stories and Kinoshita's collection to convey the anti-nuclear message fails—at least intra-diegetically. What he proposes would be far too scary for children and too traumatic even for adults in the audience like Mitsue. Realising that 'it might be too much for the people of Hiroshima to take,' the father concedes that it was 'just another of [his] big ideas.'[36]
  17. This apparent failure, however, functions powerfully on stage. It is one of the obvious highlights of the play, in which the actor who plays the father can display his acting skills. As the gentle, loving and 'ordinary' father tells the well-known story of 'Issun bōshi' (the title translated by Pulvers as the Little Inch-High Warrior), while 'slipping in' the bomb issues, he becomes more and more agitated, and his language comes to resemble what his Japanese audience may recognise from the genre of yakuza films (which often feature Hiroshima gangsters).
  18. The performativity of the Hiroshima dialect is, in fact, used to effect throughout this play. Unlike Ibuse, who was originally from the Hiroshima region (although he did not personally experience the explosion of the atomic bomb), Inoue is from Yamagata, the northern part of Honshū, which has a completely different dialect. While use of the Hiroshima dialect is limited in Ibuse's text, however, in Inoue's play it is both constant and emphatic—from its first line 'Otottan, kowai!' ('Daddy, I'm scared!'; in standard Japanese, 'Otōsan, kowai!') to its last, 'Otottan, arigato arimashita' ('Daddy, thank you!'; standard Japanese, 'Otōsan, arigatō gozaimashita').[37] This is another example of Inoue's emphasis on orality and his desire to bring back the voice, with its subtle accents and intonation that are neither centrally controlled nor neutralised. Inoue has used various dialects extensively in his plays as well as his novels and short stories. He is 'passionate and persistent,' even obsessive in this regard; in addition to consulting relevant literature and dialect experts, he compiled his own standard Japanese–Hiroshima dialect dictionary.[38] As Inoue notes in his 'Afterword,' the use of the Hiroshima dialect is 'one of the main features' of the play though it is 'entirely lost' in translation.[39]
  19. The effect of dialect notwithstanding, the father's performance within the play has many translatable messages and features. Through the rough and angry yakuza-like voice of the Little Inch-High Warrior of Hiroshima, the father tells:

      TAKEZO … 'Hey, ogre! Unplug your ears of all your wax and listen to me! In my hand I have a tile that was burnt by the atom bomb in Hiroshima. You know that an atom bomb was detonated at a height of 580 meters above Hiroshima in the morning, on that day. One second after that there was a fireball with a temperature of 12,000 degrees Centigrade. Hey, get that? 12,000 degrees. The surface temperature of the Sun is 6,000 degrees, so that day the sky was lit up with two Suns floating there at 580 meters above the ground.'[40]

    The numbers and other data are juxtaposed with strong and figurative language. Being an oral text, repetition is common. To the modern reader and audience the factual data about the bomb may not sound as shocking on its own as it should. When it is combined with emotional and highly defamiliarised language as well as easily understood similes such as two Suns, the message reaches the ear, 'unplugging the wax,' so to speak.
  20. In the old legend of 'Issun bōshi' the 'ogre' [oni] snatches young ladies on their way to Kiyomizu Temple and devours the hero, but some readers and spectators might recall, perhaps with some concern, that during the war the Americans and English were compared to 'ogres' [kichiku beiei]. Inoue is wary of his play being mistakenly thought to have a nationalistic agenda; in his prologue he declares that it is necessary to talk about Hiroshima and Nagasaki 'not out of a victim's mentality' but as a question of human morality. While openly admitting Japan's position during the war as the aggressor in Asia, he emphasises that 'those two atomic bombs were dropped not only on the Japanese but on all humankind.'[41]
  21. The father's 'failed' attempt at modifying the well-known children's story successfully conveys this message to the audience. One can certainly say that the father is given a very performative role in the play. And all his performativity is inseparable from his love for his daughter: the most important role he plays is to encourage and support his daughter's hope for the future. He also does this both in practical matters such as cooking, cleaning, and other housework. It is not that he is a superhero; he was a very 'ordinary' man when he was alive, with 'big ideas' that tended to fail or to involve questionable motives. He was by no means against the war or the Japanese military while alive; in fact, he offered his family business, the Fukuyoshiya Inn, to the Imperial Army officers as a clubhouse in exchange for food and other goods that were becoming increasingly difficult for 'ordinary' people to obtain. The father that appears in front of his surviving daughter claims that he did it all for love: 'Mummy died when you were a tiny little baby an' even if you were starved for a mother's love I didn't want you to be without the things you needed.'[42] The daughter, however, knows more about his actions and motives: 'you would lure as many women as you could with cigarettes and rice and take them to some hot springs resort and that's when Nobu [his friend] took those secret photos of them that he showed to those officers.'[43] Furthermore, she knows what always happens to her father's 'big ideas':

      MITSUE … you and your big ideas for things that can't be counted on. Every time you have one of your brilliant ideas you start up some new business or try to get your hands on some new woman or fritter away what granddad left on anything but your little inn.[44]

    We may note here that the weak, useless father figure appears frequently not only in Inoue's works but in numerous other texts and performances. There is a tradition of useless fathers in Japanese culture. Whereas earlier versions may feature the powerless father who has to sell his daughter for his own and/or his family's survival, or the artist or intellectual father who is completely useless (and irresponsible) in worldly matters, more modern versions tend to focus on the father simply as pathetic and downtrodden.[45]
  22. While paying homage to the venerable tradition of the powerless and useless father, Inoue makes this father far more useful in practical things such as housework than the conventional no-good father. Like some good fairy or genie, he prepares food, sweeps rooms, and draws the bath. This certainly offers an alternative not only to the useless father tradition but also to the traditional gender division.[46] From the perspective of realism—even though the notion of the dead father cooking and cleaning would hardly be realistic—this may be explained by his being a widower and the owner of an inn, both of which required his regular involvement in work that would normally be regarded as the domain of women. There is more symbolic meaning, however, in the father's cooking and, importantly, not eating in this play. Because he is not a living creature, he cannot eat or drink. He has come back to this world not to pursue his own desires but to help his daughter.
  23. Compared with this highly active and performative dead father, the living daughter seems to be rather subdued for most of the play. Before examining the daughter's voice and performance, let us return once again to Ibuse's text, in which Sakaki makes this important and original observation about the niece's voice, which contributes not only to the understanding of Black Rain but also to our reading of Chichi to kuraseba:

      Whereas Shigematsu and Shigeko read Yasuko's wartime diary and even consider editing it, Yasuko is denied access to this diary [i.e. 'The Diary of the Illness of Yasuko Takamaru' kept by Shigeko] and indeed is never even informed that it exists. Her narration is intruded on, even as theirs is not, although both narratives deal with Yasuko. She is insulated by Shigeko and Shigematsu from the voices of the world. She is confined in a vacuum of narrative contexts, in which she neither speaks nor hears. She not only commits verbal suicide but also is verbally exiled by others.[47]

    Yasuko's silence and the 'vacuum of narrative contexts' are the tragic consequence of the 'black rain.' By comparison, Mitsue does speak, hear, read and write within the play. Like Yasuko, who withdraws from her prospective marriage by writing a letter to her prospective husband, Mitsue tries to give up her pursuit of happiness twice in the play—once by not posting her letter to Kinoshita, and again by writing a farewell letter to him. On both occasions it is her father who persuades her to change her mind. She seems passive and repressed, while her dead father is free and active. The following line of the father, if taken out of context, might also cause one to wonder whether the role of the daughter is after all just to produce offspring and continue the family line:

      TAKEZO You've got your work [as a librarian] cut out for you, to tell people sad things an' happy things. If you don't get that through your head, then you're really the stupid pigheaded daughter you say you are and there's no way I can ever depend on you. Just as soon have some other child instead. […] A grandchild … a great grandchild.[48]

    But Inoue gives us a perfect solution to this question, making it clear that this is not a story of patriarchal narcissism. Why not? Because this father is not a ghost who wants his daughter to avenge him or continue his work in his place, but a figure born out of the living daughter's yearning for love, life, and future.

      TAKEZO … I started showin' up last Friday, right, when your heart started throbbin' for the first time in a long time when you caught sight of that Kinoshita fellow comin' in to the library. My torso was born out of that throbbing. Then when he started to approach the checkout desk a soft little sigh slipped from your lips. Isn't that right? My arms and legs grew out of that sigh. Then you made a silent wish, didn't you, that he would choose your desk to come up to. My heart came to life out of that wish.[49]

    This father could not exist without his daughter's hope for the future. It is the daughter's wish for love that has resurrected the father and it is her decision to reconcile with the past that makes him disappear again.
  24. If the reader of this article has not yet read or seen any version of Chichi to kuraseba—the Japanese text, translated text, stage[50] or film—I fear that I have already exposed too much about the play out of the need to discuss its significance. There is, however, one other important issue that is central to the father–daughter love in this play. It explains why Pulvers has chosen the English title Face of Jizo. It reveals and resolves the key problem at once. It would be unethical, though, to disclose this brilliant theatrical innovation to those who have not had the opportunity to see the play. Let me therefore conclude this essay by urging everyone to experience this performance of father–daughter love, healing, and reconciliation in any of its forms or versions, for it is translatable and transmittable, even if the detail may vary.


    [1] For general information about father–daughter relationships, see Tomoko Aoyama's entry of the same title in International Encyclopedia of Men and Masculinities, vol. 1, ed. M. Flood, J.K. Gardiner, B. Pease, and K. Pringle, London: Routledge, 2007.

    [2] Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen, 'Introduction,' in The Father–Daughter Plot: Japanese Literary Women and the Law of the Father, ed. Rebecca L. Copeland and Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2001, p. 1.

    [3] Ramirez-Christensen, 'Introduction,' p. 2.

    [4] Ramirez-Christensen, 'Introduction,' pp. 20–21.

    [5] Tanaka Takako, Nihon fazakon bungakushi, Tokyo: Kinokuniya Shoten, 1998, pp. 20–28. Japanese names are given in Japanese order in this paper; that is, surname first, followed by personal name, except for publications that first appeared in English.

    [6] The examples Tanaka cites include the relationships between Emperor Sanjō (976–1017) and his daughters; the Cloistered Emperor Shirakawa (Sanjō's son, 1052–1129) and his natural and adopted daughters and pseudo-father–daughter relations in Genji monogatari [The Tale of Genji], Towazugatari [The Confessions of Lady Nijō] and others.

    [7] Kawai Hayao, Mukashibanashi to nihonjin no kokoro, Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, pp. 250–51.

    [8] In Sanma no aji the most stunning 'example not to be followed' is found in the character of Tomoko, played brilliantly by Sugimura Haruko. She is the daughter of the former teacher of the protagonist (father played by Ryū Chishū) and has stayed single, living with her father (played by Tōno Eijirō).

    [9] Official Homepage of the Theatre Komatsuza: (in Japanese), online:, accessed 1 December 2006. Its director is Inoue's daughter, Inoue Miyako.

    [10] This image is taken from 'Kako Kōen,' in the Official Home Page of the Theatre Komatsuza, online:, accessed 1 December 2006.

    [11] This image is taken from 'Kako Kōen,' in the Official Homepage of the Theatre Komatsuza, online:, accessed 1 December 2006. (This link includes information in Russian on the back of the poster)

    [12] This image is taken from 'Kako Kōen,' in the Official Website of the Theatre Komatsuza, online:, accessed 1 December 2006.

    [13] Both editions were published by Shinchōsha. In the following I use the seventh print of the paperback edition, Inoue Hisashi, Chichi to kuraseba, Tokyo: Shinchōsha (Shinchō Bunko), 2005.

    [14] Chichi to Kuraseba's homepage (in Japanese) is online:, accessed 1 December 2006. The film was included in the 2006 Japanese film festival sponsored by the Japan Foundation and was shown in five cities in Australia. The film is available on DVD (with English subtitles): Chichi to Kuraseba Trailer (Japanese only), online:, accessed 4 December 2007.

    [15] For details of this performance, see 'The Face of Jizo: A Story that Takes Place in Hiroshima,' in Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies, 16 June, 2006, online:, accessed 1 December 2007.

    [16] I will avoid explaining the full meaning of this English title in this paper, but note that jizō is [a stone image of] a guardian deity of children.

    [17] This image is taken from the Official Website of the Theatre Komatsuza, online:, accessed 1 December 2006.

    [18] See Tomoko Aoyama, 'The love that poisons: Japanese parody and the new literacy,' in Japan Forum, vol. 6, no. 1 (April 1994): 35–46 and Joel R. Cohn, Studies in the Comic Spirit in Modern Japanese Fiction, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: Harvard University Press, 1998, pp. 134–84.

    [19] For a discussion of Inoue's novel set in a Japanese internment camp in Australia, see Tomoko Aoyama, 'Appropriating bush tucker: food in Inoue Hisashi's Yellow Rats,' in Journal of Australian Studies, vol. 87 (2006): 129–40.

    [20] In the original play this young man never appears on stage. In Kuroki's film, however, Kinoshita does appear.

    [21] For general information about this genre see Kokubungaku kaishaku to kanshō, vol. 50, no. 9 (August 1985) which features 'Genbaku bungaku.' In English, see John Whittier Treat, Writing Ground Zero: Japanese Literature and the Atomic Bomb, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. Ibuse's novel inspired director Imamura Shōhei to make a film of the same title in 1989.

    [22] Cohn's aforementioned book, Studies in the Comic Spirit in Modern Japanese Fiction, specifically discusses three writers, including both Ibuse and Inoue.

    [23] Both Ibuse and Inoue have won the most prestigious popular literature award, the Naoki Prize (Ibuse in 1937 and Inoue in 1972) and many other major prizes. Ibuse was awarded the Order of Culture (1966) and Inoue has been the President of the Japan P.E.N. (Poets and Playwrights, Editors, Novelists) Club since 2003.

    [24] Inoue Hisashi, trans. Roger Pulvers, The Face of Jizo: A Play by Hisashi Inoue, Tokyo: Komatsuza, 2004, p. 158. The name of the 'disease' in Inoue's original is ushirometōte mōshiwake nābyō (in the bilingual edition p. 159). Pulvers' translation conveys the comic ring in this coinage even though the nuance of the Hiroshima dialect is lost.

    [25] Atsuko Sakaki, Recontextualizing Texts: Narrative Performance in Modern Japanese Fiction, Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1999, p. 78. The chapter on Black Rain is entitled 'Obsessed with inscription: Ibuse Masuji's "Kuroi ame," or (re)writing memories', pp. 55–95. For an earlier Japanese version see Sakaki Atsuko, Kōi to shite no shōsetsu: naratorojī o koete, Tokyo: Shin'yōsha, 1996, Chapter 4 'Kijutsu e no shūnen', pp. 171–222.

    [26] Sakaki, Recontextualizing Texts, p. 21.

    [27] Sakaki, Recontextualizing Texts, p. 94.

    [28] Sakaki, Recontextualizing Texts, p. 21.

    [29] A good example can be found in Inoue's novel Tōkyō Sebun Rōzu [Tokyo Seven Rose [sic]], 1999, which takes the form of a series of diaries written from April 1945 to April 1946 by a male protagonist who, like Ibuse's Shigematsu, is 'obsessed with inscription,' to borrow Sakaki's title for her chapter on Black Rain. Instead of the atomic bomb, Tokyo Seven Rose deals with the destruction of Tokyo and deaths of family members, food shortages, opportunists both during and after the war, and many other issues and problems.

    [30] Inoue, Pulvers trans. The Face of Jizo, p. 60.

    [31] Aoyama, 'The love that poisons,' p. 36.

    [32] Inoue, Pulvers trans. The Face of Jizo, p. 78.

    [33] Inoue, Pulvers trans. The Face of Jizo, pp. 78–80.

    [34] Inoue wrote a play about Miyazawa Kenji, Īhatōbo no geki ressha (1980), as well as a number of essays. The translator of The Face of Jizo, Roger Pulvers, is also a Kenji admirer and has translated some of his stories.

    [35] It is more common to refer to this poet by his personal name Kenji than his surname Miyazawa.

    [36] Inoue, Pulvers trans. The Face of Jizo, p. 86.

    [37] Inoue, Pulvers trans. The Face of Jizo, pp. 14–15 and 170–71.

    [38] Among the references given in a list attached to the Shinchō Bunko edition of Chichi to kuraseba (p. 111) are several books and dictionaries on Hiroshima dialects, including his own personal dictionary.

    [39] Inoue, Pulvers trans. The Face of Jizo, pp. 176–78.

    [40] Inoue, Pulvers trans. The Face of Jizo, p. 82. 'Unplug your ears…' is a common and vulgar expression, the vulgarity exaggerated here with the additional reference to mimi kuso [ear wax].

    [41] Inoue, Pulvers trans. The Face of Jizo, p. 8.

    [42] Inoue, Pulvers trans. The Face of Jizo, p. 22.

    [43] Inoue, Pulvers trans. The Face of Jizo, p. 22.

    [44] Inoue, Pulvers trans. The Face of Jizo, p. 76.

    [45] The most stunning example of this last type can be found in the boys' manga by Furuya Mitsutoshi, with the illustrative title Dame Oyaji [No Good Daddy], 1970–82.

    [46] This presents a striking contrast to the strict gender division in Black Rain, in which the protagonist Shigematsu asks his wife to write a record of food situations in wartime Hiroshima, because this is a woman's subject. Stark also is the contrast between Chichi to kuraseba and Inoue's own novel Tōkyō Sebun Rōzu (see note 25 above), in which the powerless father eats the food his daughter obtains by selling her body to American officers.

    [47] Sakaki, Recontextualizing Texts, p. 78.

    [48] Inoue, Pulvers trans. The Face of Jizo, p. 168.

    [49] Inoue, Pulvers trans. The Face of Jizo, p. 48.

    [50] A video recording of the 1995 Komatsuza production of Chichi to kuraseba with Suma Kei and Umezawa Masayo playing the father and daughter is available (Tokyo: Kashiwa Shobō, 1995), although, unlike the film version, it has no English subtitles.


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