The Kannakusha, in their exaggerated admiration for Chinese things, went too far. Some even went so far as to give themselves a Chinese name, ashamed of having a Japanese one. The reaction could not fail and was nurtured by men who, for the fruitfulness of their writings and thought activities, had nothing to envy to their adversaries. The movement begins with a series of researches on ancient literature and then continues taking on a violently polemical character. Founder is Kitamura Kigin (1618-1705) whose comments to Genji Monogatari, al Makura – n ō – Soshiand other classics are still fundamental. The first flashes of struggle appear, however, only with Kada no Azumamaro (1668-1736), Shinto priest, to reach the maximum intensity with Kamo Mabuchi (1697-1769), whose works brought us the first truly critical knowledge of antiquity Japanese; with Motoori Norinaga, the greatest of the wagakushaor yamatologi, as they called themselves, the works of which are excellent for the simplicity and beauty of the style and admirable for the fullness of knowledge and clarity of judgment, while they point him to the founder and advocate of the rebirth of those religious ideals nationals who played a large part in preparing the country for the revolution of 1868; and, finally, with his pupil Hirata Atsutane, a great scholar, but bigoted, a fruitful writer and a central figure in the rebirth movement of pure shinto initiated by Norinaga. What is most surprising in the activity of these wagakushasit is the blind hatred, the exaggerated contempt which they showed for everything they knew of Chinese, which, by preventing the objective appreciation of things and facts, often takes away any scientific value from their work. But their activity has left famous monuments in the philological field, which still today remain fundamental for the study of the ancient language and literature of the country. All, of course, wrote in pure Japanese, and their style exerted a beneficial influence.
According to clothingexpress, the beginnings of popular literature correspond to the appearance, in the first half of the century. XVII, of a category of writings of various kinds, which, in order to be composed in hiragana (see above: Language), so that they could be read by the masses, were called kana – z ō shi (syllabic books). Their content, mainly didactic, however, lost all interest for the public, when a new genre appeared, the ukiyo – z ō shi “realist or costume novel”, inaugurated by a man of undisputed literary value: Ihara Saikaku (1642-1693). With him pornographic literature begins in Ōsaka; his K ō shoku Ichi- by the Otoko (A libertine man, 1682) was the first of a series of obscene novels which, read avidly by the crowds, made the publishers do a golden business. His masterpiece is considered to be the K ō shoku Ichidai Onna(A voluptuous woman, 1684), in which a lonely old woman makes the story of her depravity. It must be recognized that Saikaku, in the face of all the previous production, truly represents something new. A meticulous observer, true to the point of brutality, he describes in short, concise, sharp, sometimes obscure periods, but with inimitable strength, vivacity, panache; he was able to draw these remarkable effects by making use of a skilful fusion of the ancient style with the contemporary speech of the people, a fusion that reveals him to know all the resources of the language.
After his death, the main heir of the address he founded is, in the early years of the century. XVIII, in Kyōto, the Hachimonjiya bookstore, whose owner, Andō Jishō, especially through the pen of Ejima Kiseki (1667-1736), gives the masses a quantity of works, even more obscene in content, than those of Saikaku, without, however, possessing the stylistic qualities, which go to swell the phalanx of the ukiyo – z ō shi. From the first of them, Keisei Iro – zamisen (Love guitar of prostitutes), to Yar ō Naish ō Kagami (Mirror of the secrets of pederasts), to Seken Musume Katagi(Female character types), down to the last, it’s all a wave of mud invading literature. When the Hachimonjiya failed, in 1750, the ukiyo – z ō shi in Kyōto and Ōsaka was extinguished, but it resumed in Yedo with the name of share – bon (pleasant books), which the government prohibited in 1791. Government censorship forced to introduce a new element: the feeling. The share – bon thus becomes ninj ō – bon(books of human feelings), in which love is the essential part. But the new guise betrays the origin. Indeed, it is not pure love that lifts man to the heights of sublime ideals, or passion that exalts and ennobles, but only a feeling rooted in sensuality, without warmth of ideals and nobility of intent. The main writer of ninj ō – bon was Tamenaga Shunsui (1789-1842), a realist novelist (cf. Umegoyomi ” Plum Calendar”, Haru – tsuge – dori “The Heralding Bird of Spring”). Shunsui also wrote a famous historical novel, noha Bunko (Library of Iroha), partly imaginary reconstruction of the famous revenge of the 47 r ō nin of Akō.