Samurai Society: an exploration of Japaneseness in post-war Jidaigeki


Post-war samurai films, or ‘Jidaigeki’ (period drama) represented a renewed interest in the cultural foundations of Japanese society, and are part of a broader search for national and cultural identity that embodied notions of Japan’s unique place in history a newly globalised world. The samurai in such films, while fictional figures, are nonetheless grounded in a version of Japan’s historical past that has been embellished by oral traditions and isolated from the problems and insecurities of an unfamiliar period, thereby elevating them to the level of myth (Silver, 1977). Jidaigeki, like The Samurai Trilogy, present us mythical, often tragic heroes who both push against authority, while also conforming to widely held cultural and social norms. The reality of historical figures, such as Miyamoto Musashi, is replaced by the legend of someone who is seen to embody essential elements of ‘Japaneseness’, and who helps to demonstrate the true power and prestige of the Japanese people. Read more of this post