enpaku 早稲田大学演劇博物館



  The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University is the only museum in Asia that specialises in theatre and imagery. In addition to materials associated with Japanese theatre, its collection also holds an abundance of materials related to every imaginable genre of theatrical arts in the Asian cultural region. Although the Museum has held a large number of exhibitions featuring the performing arts of Asia, this is our first attempt at highlighting a single tale from a global perspective.
  The classic Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms has been translated into numerous languages and enjoys enormous popularity, particularly in regions of the world that have been influenced by Chinese characters. The many dramatisations and adaptations of the work have allowed it to transcend its original region, culture, and language of origin, and the various mediums in which it has been presented in Greater China as well as in Japan have ensured that it continues to enthral the public. In this exhibition, we have combined the stagings of Romance of the Three Kingdoms from Japan, China, and Taiwan in an attempt to present the particular charm of each of the three renditions. We hope that you will get the same sense of enjoyment from this exhibition as you would from seeing a theatrical performance, particularly as we are currently unable to attend performances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all those who cooperated in this exhibition, and in particular, I thank the Guo Guang Opera Company of Taiwan for providing us with valuable photographs associated with Three Kingdoms free of charge.
September 2020

OKAMURO Minako, Director
The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum , Waseda University

The Appeal of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms

  Romance of the Three Kingdoms tells the story of an age of conflict between three states in third-century China: Wei, Shu, and Wu. Luang Guanzhong, who lived from the end of the Yuan dynasty to the early Ming dynasty, is believed to have edited the Annals of the Three Kingdoms. The version commonly read in China was edited by Mao Zonggang in the Qing dynasty and is known as the Mao Zonggang Commentary Edition of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In Japan, however, the most commonly read edition of the Annals of the Three Kingdoms is based on the Li Zhi Critical Edition of the Annals of the Three Kingdoms, which was completed prior to Mao’s work in the Ming dynasty. This is because it was used as the source for the Common Version of the Annals of the Three Kingdoms, which was translated by Konan Bunzan during the Edo Period, which in turn was used as the source for Yoshikawa Eiji’s Sangokushi (Annals of the Three Kingdoms). Due to this, fictional works such as Han Shou Ting Hou (漢寿亭侯) by Guan Yu are famous in Japan but unknown in China.
  The age of the Annals of the Three Kingdoms lasted no more than a mere sixty years. However, during this period the Han Empire—which was comparable to the Roman Empire—collapsed, serving as a major turning point in Chinese history that ushered in a new age of war. This was the age of Himiko in Japan, which was also considered to be a time of great change in the country.
  Numerous leaders, military commanders, and military strategists in this period of turbulence clashed as a result of various beliefs in an effort to realise their aspirations. Their way of life did not take a single form but instead showed a great deal of variety. We, their descendants, should be impressed with the life of, for example, Zhuge Liang—the incomparably resourceful military strategist—who was loyal to Liu Bei. Indeed, the relationship between Liu Bei and both Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, whose friendship exceeded the typical relationship between monarch and vassal, can still bring tears to our eyes. Moreover, we would do well to applaud the abundant talents and decisiveness that existed simultaneously with the extraordinary villainy of Cao Cao. We champion the characters we are fond of as a result of our individual sensibilities, which in turn leads us to create our own unique version of the tale. It is this openness to interpretation that ensures that the Annals of the Three Kingdoms remains fascinating to us.

WATANABE Yoshihiro
Professor , Faculty of Letters , Arts and Sciences , Waseda University
Director in Charge of Cultural Advancement

Objective of the Exhibition

  The story of Three Kingdoms portrays with great clarity the struggles of a cast of highly distinctive personages, warriors, and women who lived during a turbulent time of civil war in China approximately 1,700 years ago. For this reason, it has captured the imagination of people around the world and remained exceedingly popular. Since the onset of the modern age, Three Kingdoms has spread throughout China in the form of San Guo Zhi Ping Hua and the stage play Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In Japan, it owes its popularity to media, such as a ‘narrative’ version of the story (known as setsuwa) that is performed in public by professional storytellers and stage versions that bring the various characters to life before the very eyes of an audience rather than relying on the words of the tale alone. The influence that Yoshikawa Eiji’s novelisation, Yokoyama Mitsuteru’s manga version —filled with the same sense of reality as a stage performance—and NHK’s puppet version of Three Kingdoms have had on present-day Japan cannot be overstated.
  In multiethnic and multicultural Asia, the diversity of theatrical productions and the abundant expressiveness they relate to audiences contribute to the creation of a rich theatrical world. The characteristics of each of the performing arts utilised to tell the story and the various cultural interpretations of the work ensure that the characters appearing in each region’s staging of Three Kingdoms are of infinite variety.
  In this exhibition, we have placed each of the exhibition rooms—which can be thought of as ‘stages’—in a sort of competition with each other to allow visitors to gain an understanding of the characteristics and charms of the characters of Three Kingdoms as portrayed in each theatrical context. We have gathered costumes, dolls and puppets, colour woodblock prints (nishiki-e), and a variety of other objects carefully selected from the museum’s collection to show visitors the appeal of the heroes of Three Kingdoms that appear in productions staged in Japan, China, and Taiwan.
  Particular attention has been paid to the women who appear in Three Kingdoms. Our aim is to shed light on the heroines who led unique lives in the shadow of fierce battles fought mainly by men. These women include Diaochan(貂蝉), who was utilised in the Lian Huan Ji(連環計 Interlocking Stratagems) of the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms; Lady Sun (孫尚香 Sun,Shangxiang), who was both wise and courageous; and Lady Mi(糜夫人), who gave her life to protect the son of Liu Bei(劉備). Our aim is to show how their dignified personalities are a glowing presence on stage.
  I hope that visitors will find that this exhibition provides a multifaceted view of Three Kingdoms.

LEE Szuhan(李思漢), Research Associate
The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum , Waseda University

The Heroes of Three Kingdoms Do Battle!

  The story of Three Kingdoms has been recreated in a variety of different media. These range from oral literature to the written word. Starting in the early modern period, stage performances were added, followed by television dramas, motion pictures, animated features, and others in the modern period. The world, characters, and charm of Three Kingdoms that is portrayed in each of these differs, and it is this fact that makes comparing them truly enjoyable.
  The characters in Three Kingdoms come to life on stage, and thus, they are perfectly suited to recreating scenes of battle and intrigue. The first theatrical performances of Three Kingdoms in China can be traced back to the 12th and 13th centuries during the Southern Song dynasty. In addition to performances featuring human actors, there were also puppet productions and shadow plays. In the 14th century, theatre underwent dramatic development, and as a result, many works dramatising Three Kingdoms appeared. Some of these are still performed to this day. In the early part of the 19th century, the period during which Peking Opera began to mature, older male characters (middle-aged and older men) played the lead roles, and as Three Kingdoms allows actors playing older male roles to display their acting skills, it naturally became part of the Peking Opera repertoire.
  As Three Kingdoms has been accepted over a wide region mainly concentrated in East Asia, there are performances of the story in the regions of East Asia other than China. At the same time, each region has developed its own programme and created new characters. In the ‘glove puppetry’ style of puppet theatre which was influenced by the Peking Opera, puppets are manipulated with one hand, which has led to the development of more dynamic heroes in Three Kingdoms. In Japan, character profiles based on unique interpretations have been utilised in the Kabuki theatre. The performances of Three Kingdoms that have been created using the ‘models’ of the different types of theatre that exist in each of the regions where the story has been received are each indispensable and truly beautiful chapters in the history of the spread of Three Kingdoms.

Chinese Theatrical Performances of Three Kingdoms as Portrayed by the Japanese

  Since the start of the modern age, the Japanese who travelled to China have left a large number of records of what they experienced there. Many of these are in written form, but several are also in the form of photographs and hand-made pictures. A large number of traditional theatrical styles, most notably Peking Opera, emphasise singing and dancing and enthral theatre-goers visually and aurally through their use of characteristic white face powder and gorgeous, colourful costumes and headgear. For this reason, the non-Chinese have been drawn to Chinese theatre and have made it a major theme of their photography and paintings. The collection of the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University includes paintings by Fukuda Bisen (1875–1963) and geologist Fukuchi Nobuyo (1877–1934) that portray stagings of the traditional theatre of China and Japanese-style painter Wakayagi Ryuko (1888–1983) who created a series of paintings of actors on stage called Renpu (a type of stage makeup worn by Peking Opera actors). These works are a record that clearly portrays how performances in their era looked.
  These paintings are mainly dated to the 1920s. As many of the images of the modern Peking Opera are monochrome ‘bromide’ portraits of the actors, there are few that convey how colourful and passionate stage performances were at the time. Thus, the paintings provide a rare and valuable opportunity to discover what traditional theatre actually looked like around the 1920s.
  Of even greater interest is the fact that so many of the same performances and people associated with Three Kingdoms were depicted in the paintings made by these three artists. One likely reason for this was the sheer frequency with which Three Kingdoms was performed in China at the time. These works also testify to the degree to which the public was truly enchanted by Three Kingdoms, in which many scenes contained action or allowed the actors to display their individual singing skills.

The Development of Theatrical Performances of Three Kingdoms in Japan

  The story of Three Kingdoms as portrayed in Japan is characterised by the sheer number of works that have been created in novel form, motion pictures, and theatrical performances, and these works are all on par with those created in Greater China. Each of these Japanese works takes advantage of the strengths of the media being utilised to express a wide variety of Three Kingdom worlds. Yoshikawa Eiji’s novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms as well as the NHK puppet production of Three Kingdoms that was broadcast starting in 1982, and the animated series Three Kingdoms (produced by Shinano Art & Culture Consultant Co., Ltd. and distributed by Toei) released from 1992 to 1994 played an important role in the propagation of the story in Japan.
  In terms of theatre, which creates an appeal that differs from that of novels and films, Three Kingdoms has been presented using uniquely Japanese interpretations. The earliest examples are Kabuki treatments during the Edo period. In Uru-zuki-ni-nin-kage-kiyo which was performed at the Edo Kawarasaki-za theatre in 1737, Akushichibyoe Kagekiyo depicting Zhang Fei and Hatakeyama Shigetada depicting Guan Yu appear on stage. Subsequently, the play was included among the 18 plays that make up the central repertoire of Kabuki as Guan Yu (in Japanese: Kan’u), and thus, it is still performed today. Modern works include Ninpu (Pregnant Woman) by Ikeda Daigo (1885–1942). Using his knowledge of Chinese theatre, Ikeda created a work that expands on the story of The Killing of Diaochan by Guan Yu, on which there are a variety of theories. Ikeda’s interpretations of the characters in Three Kingdoms, which he used as material for his own works, are also of great interest.
  Certainly, the most notable modern staging of Three Kingdoms is the trilogy known as New Three Kingdoms. In this ‘super Kabuki’ play, Ichikawa Eno Ⅱ took on a variety of challenges. His novel interpretation of Three Kingdoms—in which, for example, Liu Bei is portrayed as a woman and the lover of Zhuge Liang makes an appearance—is combined with the full spectacle of the stage as if to announce the advent of the new century. This renewed portrayal of Three Kingdoms from a fresh perspective was warmly received by the public.