“Tsubouchi [Shoyo] goes into considerable detail in trying to locate a period in Japanese history from which to take the language that would adequately convey [Hamlet’s] meaning to a Japanese audience. He searches into Japanese classical theatre to try to discover whether hints of Japan’s own classical stage language might be appropriate. The Mousetrap becomes a Noh play at one stage, but this does not work. What on earth is he to do with the Danish court? It would be laughable to suggest the Japanese Imperial court in the language given to it. One would have to come way down the Japanese aristocratic scale to find someone who slept alone, without any attendants, on the ground in an orchard.
“… He was also anxious to answer his critics, who condemned the language, with its admixture of archaisms, that he used for the trial scene from The Merchant of Venice the previous year. Shimpa had developed a stage language which mainly used the colloquial even for plays that were not set in contemporary Japan. It had many supporters among regular theatre-goers who wanted to think of themselves as modern, but Tsubouchi could not accept that he should use this type of language. Shakespeare is 70 percent poetry, he protests, and ignoring this translation will destroy the balance between form and content.
“Tsubouchi persisted in his ideas, even though no less an adversary than Lafcadio Hearn is reported as having espoused the cause of translation into contemporary Japanese.”
– Shakespeare and the Japanese Stage, edited by Takashi Sasayama, J. R. Mulryne & Margaret Shewring, 1998
From the wiki: “The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum (familiarly known as ‘Enpaku’) of Waseda University is a university museum devoted to the history of drama, with facilities used for cultural performances from all over the world. The museum was named for Tsubouchi Shōyō, a professor of literature at Waseda, and a famous writer and playwright in his own right, known for his work with theater and translations of the collected works of Shakespeare into Japanese, written in the old–fashion language of Kabuki. It is commonly known as ‘Enpaku’ in Japanese.
“The Waseda Theatre Museum formally opened in 1928, following the dreams of Professor Tsubouchi to build a museum dedicated to theatre arts. It commemorates all of Tsubouchi’s accomplishments, among them a 40–volume translation of the works of Shakespeare that Tsubouchi also finished in 1928, the year of his 70th birthday. Modeled after the Fortune Theatre of London, the museum approximates its inspiration in both exterior construction and interior design.
“The Waseda Theatre Museum functions as both a repository and exhibition space, housing nearly 37,000 items and 100,000 volumes. For example it has a large number of ukiyo–e prints depicting the popular kabuki play ‘Chūshingura’.”