- 新聞学評論 (ISSN:04886550)
- no.41, pp.184-199, 317-316, 1992-05-20
Following the publication of major newspapers addressed to the intelligentsia, there emerged a number of popular papers which were mainly directed toward the general public by the extensive use of furikana on the Chinese characters. These popular papers were relatively cheap and widely read, added an entertainment aspect to other papers, and functioned as a means of developing a new style of written Japanese. The ultimate objective of the present study is to clarify the development process of the new style of the language adopted by three representative popular papers, Yomiuri Shinbun, Tokyo Eiri Shinbun and Kanayomi Shinbun, during the period from 1875 to 1880. For this purpose, this study attempts to identify the nature and characteristics of regular readers by analyzing 8,352 letters from approximately 3,700 readers. Major findings of the present study are as follows: (1) Nearly half the letters were in fact contributed from regular readers, who accounted for a small proportion of the public. However, more than 70 percent of the contributors were residents of Tokyo, especially from the downtown sections of Asakusa, Nihonbashi, Fukagawa, and Shitaya. Of the 59 contributors for whom details could be ascertained, 57 were male and about half were merchants while the other half were of samurai origin and now professionally engaged in journalism or public service. (2) Regular contributors formed an informal support group for these papers and often gathered at the publisher in order to have direct communication. Their letters functioned as a source of news for other readers. More importantly, the conversation within the group was often directly written up as letters, thus preparing the way for the formation of a new style of written Japanese language.