Santo Kyoden

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Date: 1791

Region: Asia

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Literature


Koyden.jpg

Artist: Santo Kyoden (1761 - 1816)

Confronting Bodies: Matsudaira Sadanobu, head of the Bakufu (The military government)

Dates of Action: 1791

Location: Japan

Description of Artwork: Three works of sharebon (Light fiction) dealing with the world of the pleasure quarters. They were not erotic and did not contain political content. Shikake Bunko (仕懸文庫?), Nishiki no Ura (錦之裏?), and Shōgi Kinuburui (娼妓絹籭?) (roughly translated: Paperback Suspension Specifications, Back, and Silk Prostitute)

The Incident: In the early part of Kyoden's career, the censorship laws were not strictly enforced. He wrote many political satires at this time, including one about the fictional assassination attempt of the head of the Bakufu. In 1789 he was fined for including illustrations with this work.

By 1791, a new head of the Bakufu had taken over and censorship became tight. Three of Kyoden's sharebon were banned and he was forced to admit he wrote "depraved books."

Results of Incident: Since these works are not particularly objectionable, it has been suggested that Kyoden was chosen for punishment for being a persistent offender or to punish him for his earlier works. His sentence was to be chained in manacles to his house for fifty days.

Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.