Hamlet, Prince of Japan : examining the translations and performances of Japanese Hamlet

Title: Hamlet, Prince of Japan : examining the translations and performances of Japanese Hamlet
Source document: Theory and Practice in English Studies. 2022, vol. 11, iss. 1, pp. 95-111
  • ISSN
    1805-0859 (online)
Type: Article

Notice: These citations are automatically created and might not follow citation rules properly.

Through the numerous translations and adaptations of Hamlet in Japan, this article examines the importance of this play in the Japanese cultural and historical consciousness, as well as the new life that it receives through contemporary adaptations, namely through Yukio Ninagawa's numerous productions of this play (during the 2003–2015 period) and Takarazuka Revue's 2010 rock opera musical entitled Hamlet!!. Hamlet in Japan benefits from a long history of productions that are influenced by the classical theatres of Japan, specifically Kabuki and Noh. Furthermore, the linguistic changes made to the text contribute to the reinterpretation of the play and the expansion of roles that are not possible in the original English, and Shoichiro Kawai's translation in particular acts as a bridge between Shakespeare's poetry and the Japanese understanding of his works. Finally, this article looks at Hamlet's key line of "to be or not to be" as it gains an entirely different meaning when translated into Japanese and loses its existential quality in favour of a more human idea of life and death that ties in with the themes explored in the play.
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