Understanding Humor in Japan

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Jessica Milner Davis
Wayne State University Press, 2006 - Literary Criticism - 249 pages

Japanese conventions about comedy and laughter are largely unanalyzed. For many students of Japanese culture and visitors to Japan, Japanese humor seems obscure, incomprehensible, paradoxical, and even nonexistent. By bringing together scholarly insights and original research by both Japanese and non-Japanese experts, Jessica Milner Davis bridges the differences between humor in Japan and the West and examines the entire spectrum of Japanese humor, from ancient traditions and surviving rituals of laughter to norms of joke-telling in ordinary conversation in Japan and America.

For anyone interested in Japan, Japanese culture, and humor studies, Understanding Humor in Japan is an important teaching tool. It provides accessible, illustrative examples of humor in both Japanese and English with explanations of their meaning and cultural significance. Scholarly yet readable, these essays offer intelligent discussion on such topics as the Japanese delight in wordplay, the comic content of Japanese newspapers, the role of film and television in developing Japanese stand-up comedy, and formal censorship and its impact on humorous writing and self-expression in Japan. Understanding Humor in Japan breaks new ground in the study of humor and sheds light on much that is taken for granted about the role of laughter in civilized societies.

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Laughter and the Traditional Japanese Smile Shôkichi Oda
15
A Ritual Performance of Laughter in Southern Japan
37
Team Comedy in Japans Entertainment Industry
51
A Widely Accepted Form of Japanese Wordplay
75
Conversational Jokes in Japanese and English Makiko Takekuro
85
Rakugo and Humor in Japanese Interpersonal Communication Kimie Oshima
99
Two Kyöka Poets of the Temmei Era Rokuo Tanaka
111
Farce and Satire in Kyögen
127
Shibari
139
Japans Short Comic Poetry
153
Humor in Japanese Newspapers
179
Satire and Constraint in Japanese Culture
193
List of Contributors
219
Index
233
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Jessica Milner Davis is an honorary visiting fellow in the Department of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

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