Edo traditions on the "Islands of Exile": The narrative ballads of the Southern Izu Islands

The world of music 46,2.2004:99-122

##Kudoki bushi are long narratives with dramatic plots sung to simple, strophic melodies. The genre flourished in the Edo period. performed by itinerant musicians and by local communities at the bon ancestral festival. By the late nineteenth century audiences had grown tired of lengthy kudoki and the genre was eclipsed by shorter, livelier repertories. It was to my surprise that I encountered a pocket of Japan where the art of kudoki is still alive. In Aogashima, a tiny community of Pacific islanders on the edge of Tokyo Prefecture, this popular entertainment of the Edo period has been transformed into a central part of the local repertory. Focusing on kudoki, this paper explores the diffusion of mainland repertories to the southern Izu islands and their assimilation into island culture. It examines kudoki performance on neighbouring islands in the twentieth century, exploring divergence in the tradition as one island embraces tourism and the other retains its traditional isolation. It concludes with a lool~ at recent attempts to revive this performance at the heart of the community.##

Keywords: kudoki performance, performance of kudoki, drama, music in Japan, Edo period culture