From the Tale of the Heike to Landscape, to Local Economy: The Invention of Yasu as Giō's Hometown
(Binghamton University SUNY)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the heritage sites connected to the "Giō" episode found in Yasu-shi, Shiga Prefecture. Here a complicated narrative involving the dancer Giō was developed in the Edo period to reinforce claims over the ownership of an irrigation canal central to local agriculture.
Paper long abstract:
Statues, graves, monuments, and landmarks of many kinds, ancient and modern, are found in every corner of Japan. They commemorate the life and achievements of historical figures such as military and religious leaders as well as fictional characters from literature, theater, and local legend. Giō and Hotoke, the fictional heroines of a Tale of the Heike episode, are connected to multiple graves that bear their name in various parts of Japan, as well as temples and sites of the houses where they supposedly grew up. Through the existence of heritage sites fictional tales become real, three-dimensional, almost historical. By establishing heritage sites, several towns have appropriated the story of Giō and Hotoke and used these heroines for their own purposes, whether to stimulate the local economy, to reinforce a local identity, or to compete with nearby towns. This paper explores the heritage sites connected to the "Giō" episode found in Yasu-shi, Shiga Prefecture. Here a complicated narrative involving the dancer Giō was developed in the Edo period to reinforce claims over the ownership of an irrigation canal, central to the local economy based on agriculture. As local authorities keep the sites alive with careful maintenance and people keep them relevant by visiting them and displaying images of them on the internet, we can say that through the heritage sites, these characters and contemporary society enter into relationship with each other.
Performance of History and Memory: Extratextual Dimensions of the Tale of the Heike, Japan's Iconic War Tale