Secrecy, Concealing the Revealing

  • Maki Isaka Morinaga


In a sense, the year 1904 saw the birth of an eighteenth-century masterpiece treatise on onnagata. That year, in Nihon Engekishi [History of Japanese theater]—what would later become the first of his theater history trilogy— Ihara Toshirô wrote: “There also exists what is called ‘Onnagata Hiden’ [The secret transmissions of an onnagata] by [Segawa] Kikunojô. I hereby publish it.”1 Ihara Toshirô, alias Seiseien, was a prominent philologist who introduced extensive primary sources of Japanese theater, and his theater history trilogy was a major achievement. Thus ushered into modern scholarship, “Onnagata Hiden” came to be regarded as one of the most important onnagata treatises. Despite its fame, however, it was considered for a long time that the text of “Onnagata Hiden” per se had been lost; scholars could not locate the text under the title of “Onnagata Hiden.” As it turned out, the contents of “Onnagata Hiden” had been included in Kinjinsai Shin’ô’s Kokon Yakusha Rongo Sakigake [The great and first actors’ analects through all ages] published in 1772, but without any specific title. The anthology simply includes the putative words of Kikunojô, beginning with iwaku (says) and ending with tonari (so it is said). Later findings indicate that the title, “Onnagata Hiden,” is most likely to have been chosen by Ihara himself.2


Musical Performance Oral Transmission Secret Transmission Textual Logic Mutual Match 
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  1. 8.
    Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Vintage Books, 1994), xv–xx.Google Scholar
  2. 15.
    William R. LaFleur, Buddhism: A Cultural Perspective (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1988), 43. See also ibid., 25, 41–42, 44.Google Scholar
  3. 32.
    Andrew Benjamin, Translation and the Nature of Philosophy: A New Theory of Words ( London: Routledge, 1989 ), 1–4.Google Scholar
  4. 37.
    Henry Clarke Warren, Buddhism in Translations (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 1986), 129–133. See also ibid., 153–155.Google Scholar
  5. 56.
    Keith Green and Jill LeBihan, Critical Theory and Practice: A Coursebook ( London: Routledge, 1996 ), 69.Google Scholar

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© Maki Isaka Morinaga 2005

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  • Maki Isaka Morinaga

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