The Miminashi Hōichi Story and the Question of the Epic Performance
Claire-Akiko Brisset (Paris Diderot University)
Paper short abstract:
The story of Miminashi Hōichi is well known thanks to Hearn's famous anthology Kwaidan (1904). Discussing previous versions dating back to the Edo period and local variants still pertaining in rural folklore, Brisset tries to explore this story as a form of reception of the Heike epic.
Paper long abstract:
The story of Miminashi Hōichi (Earless Hōichi) is well known thanks to the narratives gathered by Lafcadio Hearn (Koizumi Yakumo) in his famous anthology Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things (1904). However, it is possible to find some previous versions in collections of ghost stories (kaii-shū) dating back to the first half of the 17th century. The protagonist, Miminashi or "Earless Hōichi," has other names in earlier collections: he is Mimikire (Ear-cut) Hōichi in the Collection of Strange Stories to Enjoy while Resting (Gayū kidan) published in 1872, and as Mimikire Dan'ichi in folklore. The story of Mimikire Dan'ichi appears to have been recited by the so-called biwa hōshi performers at the end of medieval period, and spread largely throughout Japan where folklorists like Yanagita Kunio recorded some local variants still pertaining in rural areas in the beginning of the twentieth century. Although it has received popular attention, scholarship has not focused fully on the fact that it dramatizes one of the core issues of epic performance (the intricacy between the narrative utterance and its enunciation). In her talk, Brisset analyzes this issue and tries to explore the Miminashi Hōichi story as a form of reception of the Heike epic.
Performance of History and Memory: Extratextual Dimensions of the Tale of the Heike, Japan's Iconic War Tale