Esotericism and Modernity
In his Gendai no Iemoto [Contemporary iemoto] published in 1962, Nishiyama “wonder[s] why the iemoto system still flourishes in a democratic modern society under capitalism.”1 Nishiyama was right in observing the prevalence of various patterns of the iemoto system that institutionalized esoteric operations. His observation is overall still valid today, and the esotericist enterprise (e.g., schools of dancing, tea ceremony, flower arrangement, etc.) remains in working order, albeit past its prime. Nishiyama is acute in recognizing that the logic operating within groups that manifestly adopt the iemoto system also functions in some other communities that do not necessarily avow themselves to be iemoto organizations. (One may practically equate the logic running in iemoto organizations with the logic of esotericism.) The communities in question, states Nishiyama, include not only “traditional” dancing schools and the like but also “modern” organizations such as medical schools, modern theater troupes, and the literary establishment (bundan) and its equivalents in the circles of painting and music (gadan and gakudan, respectively).2 Comprehensive and informative though it is, Gendai no Iemoto is doomed to remain within the confines of the initial question Nishiyama posits: “What Japanese conditions result in the ubiquity of the iemoto system, or the like, in every possible realm of Japanese cultural society?”3
KeywordsProfessional Actor Theater Establishment Large School Small School Japanese Language
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