battles of coxinga

January 25, 2017 Cultural

Cultural Revelations in Battles of Coxinga.

Just as any younger brother or sister would feel towards succeeding a successful older sibling, trying hard to live up to his legacy, Chikamatsu surely felt the pressure of being compared to one of the world’s greatest literary playwrights. Though the Japanese widely regarded Chikamatsu Monzaemon as the “Japanese Shakespeare”, that title takes on vast expectations. With that nickname, one would think that the societies that Chikamatsu depicted in his plays portrayed those of the Western world. Though a few similarities exist between the two, Chikamatsu shows a unique perspective of Asian culture. In Chikamatsu’s Battles of Coxinga, he reveals a great deal of information about the culture and way of life of Asian society that would otherwise be misinterpreted or unknown. .

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Battles of Coxinga reveals in its text the importance and frequency of the idea of self-sacrifice for in honor in Asian literature, especially the concept of giri, the debt, gratitude and the responsibility that one has to others. In the beginning of the play when Go Sankei tries to save Lady Kasei, who holds the emperor’s son, he sacrifices his own son for the good of the Chinese Ming Empire. Lady Kasei gets shot, and in order to continue on the bloodline of the Ming Emperor, Go Sankei has to quickly deliver the baby from the womb of the dying Kasei. In order to trick the Tartars into believing the mother and her child both die, Go Sankei kills his own son and places him inside the Lady Kasei; as a result, the Tartar soldiers feel there does not remain successor to the Chinese throne. The characters of Watonai’s mother and his half-sister Kinshojo also sacrifice themselves so that Kanki will form an alliance with Watonai and help him win the war against Tartary. Kanki will not ally with Watonai because it will look like his wife can easily influence everything he does, so Kinshojo resolves that problem by taking her own life.


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