gigatos | January 1, 2022


Genroku (Japanese 元禄 genroku) is the motto of the reign (nengo) of the Japanese Emperor Higashiyama, used from 1688 to 1704.

The beginning and the end of an era:

The name nengo was borrowed from the 104th juan of the ancient Chinese work Song Shi (宋史, pinyin Sòng Shǐ, literally: “History of the Song Dynasty”):「恵綏黎元、懋建皇極、天禄無疆」

Genroku in Japan is considered a period of “great peace,” when the entire country was united under the Tokugawa shogunate. At the same time, the samurai class begins to die out due to the lack of military action. However, samurai culture was gaining momentum, with the creation of treatises such as the Budō shōshin shū and the Hagakure, which were precepts for the samurai. Various schools of martial arts were formed and reached their greatest heights.

During this period, the culture of the common people: craftsmen, merchants, and moneylenders developed. An example is the transformation of the Noh theater, which was an entertainment for the upper classes, into the Kabuki theater. The Kabuki theater is associated with the name of the famous Japanese playwright Tikamatsu Monzaemon, who even today enjoys great popularity in Japan.

The development of printing is underway, and the works of Japanese philosophers and Confucian classics are beginning to be printed in Japan. A special scientific field of kangaku, that is, “Chinese studies,” is created. The level of education in Japan at that time was one of the highest in the world. Colorfully illustrated books about the life of city dwellers were extremely popular. One of the authors of this genre, Ihara Saikaku, became especially famous. He laid the foundation for the art of the short story, especially beloved by the Japanese. He was the founder of the main trends in the ukiyo-joshi (“notes of the mortal world”) literary movement, which was very popular among townspeople: kosyokumono, love dramas; bukemono, short stories of warriors” lives; and tyoninmono, stories about the lives of townspeople, mainly merchants.

The color ukiyo-e prints became the hallmark of Japanese fine art, as did the art of the netsuke, which was born at the same time.

The Genroku era is associated with a name that has become world-famous – the great poet, master haiku Matsuo Basho reached the top in the complex art of expressing the variety of human emotions in a brilliantly simple and concise poetic work.

Below is a table of correspondence of Japanese traditional and European chronology. In parentheses to the number of the year of the Japanese era is the name of the corresponding year in the 60-year cycle of the Chinese ganzhi system. Japanese months are traditionally called moons.


  1. Гэнроку
  2. Genroku
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