- ソシオロジ (ISSN:05841380)
- vol.36, no.3, pp.53-70,145, 1992-02-29 (Released:2017-02-15)
Modern children's literature was established in Japan during the Taisho era, when the magazine Akai Tori was the center of a movement to develop stories (dowa) and poetry (doyo) especially for children. Authors and poets of the day praised the purity and innocence of children, and strove to create works of children's literature that reflect that "childlike mind" (doshin). For that reason, children's literature from this period is known as "doshinshugi" literature, the literature of "childlike innocence." The idealization of childlike innocence was not restricted, however, to the field of children's literature. Examination of the manifestations of this preoccupation in a wider socio-cultural context reveals the following points: 1. The literature of "innocence" was greatly influenced by the image of children in modern western literature, romanticism in particular. However, the concept of the pure and innocent mind of the child was not merely a western import. As can be seen from the writings of Kitahara Hakushu, the founder of children's poetry, it also includes supposedly traditional Japanese images of children. Here we may see a case of what Eric Hobsbawm has called the "invention of tradition." 2. The rhetoric of childlike innocence, while praising the concept of motherhood, at the same time is accompanied by an attitude which ignores motherhood. Doshinshugi thus reflects the male-dominated culture. 3. Childlike innocence was associated with the popular image of the Edo-period priest Ryokan, propagated during the Taisho era by Souma Gyofu. This gave birth to the legend of Ryokan having a childlike heart. This is another example of the invention of tradition. The Ryokan legend played an important role in spreading the idea of childhood innocence throughout the populace. 4. The idea of childlike innocence had for the artists of the day an image of selfliberation, and served to mediate the conflict between their western frame of reference, derived from literature, and the real society of Taisho Japan in which they lived. For that reason doshin became a key word of the times.