The spread of the new coronavirus has forced many people to stay at home. Attention should be paid to the culture that people can experience at home because of this particular situation.
For example, in the world of classical performing arts, Nomura Mansai has released a video introducing kyogen comic plays on his official Twitter account. He demonstrates a laughing style distinctive to kyogen, loudly saying “Wah ha ha!” and providing an explanatory commentary.
Rakugo storyteller Shunputei Ichinosuke distributed rakugo online for 10 days in a row. He also released a video titled “Yose Nyumon” (Introduction to Yose rakugo theater), in which he explained basic facts and draws viewers into the world of yose.
The theatrical site “Kangeki Zanmai” (Embrace theater) presents the works of local theater groups. The New National Theatre Tokyo has started distributing videos titled “Sugomori theater” (Stay-home theater), in which users can read the scripts from theatrical performances as well as watch ballet.
Currently, most stage performances and events have been canceled. These attempts can be said to reflect the belief of the people concerned that the lights of culture should not be extinguished.
Watching videos may be a good way to get interested in a field you have had few chances to enjoy before. The number of fans is expected to increase and more people will go to performances when the infections subside and performances resume.
Efforts by musicians of the New Japan Philharmonic have also made headlines. Each player of various musical instruments filmed themselves playing a piece of music at home and a composite video of them playing together was distributed.
While they were forced to stand by at home, the members did their best to express themselves, garnering empathy from many viewers.
People are spending more time at home since the state of emergency was declared. Isn’t it a good idea to think positively that you can spend time that you usually didn’t have reading books?
Mitsuyo Kakuta, a Naoki Prize winning author, has published a contemporary translation of “Genji Monogatari” (The Tale of Genji), a piece of dynastic literature from the Heian period. It presents the story of Hikaru Genji and a number of women in an easy-to-read style. It is a large work in three volumes, but it will give readers a chance to come into contact with the world of classical literature.
Recently, books about infectious diseases seem to have been selling well.
Albert Camus’ novel “The Plague” depicts citizens struggling to fight disease in a city isolated from the outside world. “Pesuto Dairyuko” (The outbreak of the plague) by Yoichiro Murakami describes the social upheaval caused by lies and persecution during the spread of the Black Death in 14th-century Europe.
Clues for surviving hardship can be found in books of the past and present.
— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on May 4, 2020.