Jippensha Ikku Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Jippensha Ikku (jihp-pehn-sah ee-kew) wrote a total of fifty-four works, the most famous of which is his Tkaidch hizakurige. In his youth Ikku served in the household of the feudal Lord Odagiri. Sometime in his middle twenties he resigned and set out on his wanderings. At one time he lived in the house of a story chanter. He married into the family of a lumber merchant, but the marriage soon ended in divorce. His first literary work, a puppet play he coauthored under the pseudonym Chikamatsu Yoshichi, was published in 1789 when he was twenty-four.{$S[A]Ikku Jippensha;Jippensha Ikku}

In the fall of 1794 Ikku went to Edo (later Tokyo) and stayed in the house of a paper merchant, where he is said to have worked at the trade of making paper. In 1795 he published a novel he illustrated himself. The work, called the Shingaku tokeigusa (around the clock with Heart Studies), dealt with a prostitute of the Nightless City of Edo (the Yoshiwara) who became a devotee of the then prevalent Shingaku (Heart Study) movement, an attempt to combine Buddhism and Shinto in the interest of Chinese philosophy and ethics, and who served twelve customers, one for every hour of the night. The work was an overnight success. From this time he produced a flood of works, and in 1802, when the Hizakurige (or Shanks’ Mare) series appeared, he hit the height of his popularity. So popular was this series that it was reputed to have increased the...

(The entire section is 554 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Aston, W. G. A History of Japanese Literature. Reprint. New York: Johnson Reprint, 1966. Ikku is discussed in this general history of Japanese literature.

Jippensha Ikku. Shanks’ Mare: Being a Translation of the Tokaido Volumes of Hizakurige, Japan’s Great Comic Novel of Travel and Ribaldry. Translated by Thomas Satchell. Rutland, Vt.: C. E. Tuttle, 1960. Includes some background material.

Kato, Shuichi. A History of Japanese Literature: From the Man’yoshu to Modern Times. Translated by Don Sanderson. New abridged ed. Richmond, Surrey, England: Japan Library, 1983. Ikku is discussed in this general history of Japanese literature.