*

What Did The Most Famous Russian Girl In Japan Do?

Today, I would like to introduce you the most famous Russian girl in Japan. Her name is not Lena or Yulia, but Katyusha, in Russian Катюша, a diminutive of Екатерина (Ecaterina/Katherine).

We wrote in “Roses are Red…” in our website, 2 Hours Drive From Tokyo,

In Taisho period (1912–1926), when the movement of Taisho Democracy was active, the situation changed. In 1914, the first “pop song” sung by Sumako Matsui, one of the first actresses of Western realist theatre in late 19th to early 20th century in Japan, also famous for her cosmetic surgery nose, made great success. Her gramophone record sold more than 20,000 pieces! The song was called ‘The Song of Katyusha’, a song about a young lady named ‘Катюша’or ‘Екатерина (Yekaterina)’ as ‘Katyusha’ is a diminutive or pet name form of such Russian names. It was first sung in a stage of Tolstoy’s ‘Resurrection(novel)W‘ being dramatized. This was the era when normal citizens also supported many new cultures from the west.

 

The name of Katyusha for this song used to be famous, as it was released about 100 years ago. So, at the present time, only around *50,000 people (0.042%) may know it. (*cf: the number of people who are 100+ years old was 51,376 in the statistics in 2012.) Thus, I’m afraid, it is nonsense to assert that Katyusha is the most famous Russian name in Japan for this reason.

music score of "The song of Katyusha", the cover design was made by Yumeji Takehisa photo from Natsume books

music score of “The song of Katyusha”, the cover design was made by Yumeji Takehisa
photo from Natsume books

Here is another evidence, which is, I can say, incontrovertible…

There was a super clever advertising producer, like Yasushi Akimoto, at that time. He started to sell a headband saying that it was what Sumako Matsui put on when she was acting as Katyusha in the drama of ‘Resurrection’. That headband was sold under the name of Katyusha and the word is still in use. However, it was found out later that she did not put any headband in the play and it turned out to be just a cunning marketing strategy…

headband

These headbands are called Katyusha in Japan even though there had nothing with the super star, Sumako Matsui
photo from a blog “Funny

 

In order to explain more about the “new” culture in Taisho period, I would like to share the History of theatre in Japan.

Kabuki used to be a representative of theatrical performances in Japan, in Edo period (1603–1868). But after the Meiji Restoration, when various foreign culture was introduced to Japan, in 1911, the 44th year of Meiji period, the first Western-style theatre, more precisely, Renaissance style, opened in the central Tokyo. It was Imperial Garden Theatre, now known as Imperial Theatre (Teikoku Gekijō). The theater was named “Imperial” but it was not established by the Imperial Government but by a private sector in which many politically and economically influential people, such as Eiichi Shibusawa and Kihachiro Okura were involved. They were all keen on adopting Western culture for the people in Japan.

An Italian choreographer/director, Giovanni Vittorio Rossi, was invited to the Imperial Theatre. He graduated “La Scala Theatre Ballet School” in Milan, Italy, and in Japan he worked as an instructor of Opera.

Tokyo_Kaikan_and_Teikoku_Gekijo

Imperial Theatre (right) and Tokyo Kaikan (left) in Taisho period

With the great popularity of the “new” theatrical performances played in Imperial Theatre, going to Imperial Theatre was regarded as cool in those days, and the advertising copy of Mitukoshi department store became a buzzword, “Today, to the Imperial Theatre, and tomorrow, to Mitsukoshi.”

teigeki_mithukoshi_01
teigeki_mithukoshi_03teigeki_mithukoshi_04

 

Here I list up the “Western origin” programs played in Imperial Thatre for the first four years. As you see, many works of Shakespeare were played but we cannot miss the fact, which was indeed epoch-making, that programs were imported from many Western countries and translated into Japanese.

 

1911

Poster for a performance of the theatrical version, with Sarah Bernhardt (1896)

The Lady of the Camellias Poster for a performance of the theatrical version, with Sarah Bernhardt (1896)

1912

Johann_Heinrich_Füssli_-_Titania_liebkost_den_eselköpfigen_Bottom

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Titania and Bottom by Johann Heinrich Füssli 1793–94

1913

Page_004_(Faust,_1925)

Original German text by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, translation by Bayard Taylor, illustrations by Harry Clarke. – Project Gutenberg Open Library

 

1914

Orpheus1858

1874 playbill from a French production of Orpheus in the Underworld

*Information source: 100-year History of Imperial Theatre

 

In Russia the word Katyusha is not used only for a girls’ name as well as in Japan. In Russia, on the other hand, it was used for multiple rocket launchers used in World War II… Since the letter K (for Voronezh Komintern Factory, the producing company) was marked on the rocket launcers, Red Army troops adopted a nickname from Mikhail Isakovsky’s popular wartime song, “Katyusha”, about a girl longing for her absent beloved, who has gone away on military service.

 

While in Japan, in 1956, the song “Katyusha” with lyric translated into Japanese was released by a male vocal group, “Dark Ducks” and became very popular in Japan. I have no idea why but I hope this phenomenon occurred from the philosophy, “Let bygone be bygone.”

にほんブログ村 歴史ブログ 日本の伝統・文化へ
にほんブログ村 英語ブログ 英語の日記(和英併記)へ

FavoriteLoadingAdd to favorites

Google Adsense

関連記事

ichifuji

To Be Bald Is To Be Blessed In Japan!

As written in 2 Hours Drive From Tokyo, it is said

記事を読む

Hiroshige,_Sugura_street

Is Edo Really Ex Tokyo?

When I use the word "Edo", I always explain as “pr

記事を読む

snow in yamanashi

There’s No Way but Surrender to the Nature yet…

Yesterday, I saw a very interesting program on His

記事を読む

oiran2

Secret Words to Get a Second Date With Japanese

If you've met a Japanese girl/boy or even woman/ma

記事を読む

benkeismall

Stripe, the Luxury Cloth

I've written two articles regarding the meaning of

記事を読む

sukiyaki

Finally Solved the Mystery of Washoku

Today I heard the news that Kyoto would adopt Wash

記事を読む

halfmoon2

What is The Difference Between Coincidence And Consequence?

I would like to share what occurred to us a few da

記事を読む

550px-Ch42_nioumiya

Who Cut the Milk?

To write an article on 2 Hours Drive From Tokyo I

記事を読む

cooked rice

Do You Really Know What A Japanese Rice Cooker Can Do?

Having read a very interesting article about a ric

記事を読む

pancake

Great Pancakes in Tokyo

Pancakes have become something of a fad for the la

記事を読む

Google Adsense

Message

メールアドレスが公開されることはありません。 * が付いている欄は必須項目です

次のHTML タグと属性が使えます: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Google Adsense

Can you imagine
A Solemn Ceremony at Convenience Stores

I am always told by the manager to

a robot which (who) works as a receptionist
Photo by Josh McKible
Which do you prefer, a robot or a man?

In the last article, I wrote about

construction
Before You Get Married To A Japanese Man

If you are a regular reader of my b

When it needs power, the smoke becomes very black with fly ash
Photo by Navis Argenti
the 2015, the ‘Loco’-motivated year

I had a chance to see a marvelous s

Illuminated Meguro River for Christmas in Nakameguro area
Photo from
The Year of 2014 is ending..

Today, it is the last day of 2014.

→もっと見る

  • 2HDFT_hedder

    • Name (necessary)

      Mail Address (necessary)

      Subject

      Questions

    • Would you like to support a film-making on Japanese culture?
    • Japan from a point of view of a Belgian friend
    • Are you curious to see a Vlog of a friend who is inspired by Japanese music?
    • Wanna purchase beautiful photos for your rooms?
    • Wanna know more about Japan?
    Follow

    Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

    Join other followers:

    PAGE TOP ↑