By Saikaku Ihara, E. Powys Mathers
In outdated Japan, sexual love one of the samurai used to be permissible, and sometimes matured into lifelong companionships. Comrade Loves of the Samurai touches the topic of either common and irregular love with honesty and tenderness.
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Extra resources for Comrade Loves of the Samurai (Tuttle Classics)
23 This example raises the issue of the nature of discrimination in Tokugawa society. Specifically, it prompts the question of whether relegation to hinin status was necessarily a bad thing for nohinin and other freelance beggars. On the surface it would appear to be so. After all, a “kept” hinin was placed permanently outside the rest of society, while an unregistered peasant or townsman might be experiencing nothing worse than a brief run of bad luck, after which he could return untainted to the ranks of commoners.
The hinin, or “nonpersons,” were a heterogeneous collection of beggars, entertainers, fortune-tellers, and other marginal people who existed beyond the bounds of commoner society, yet they composed a status group with an internal organization and explicit duties. Among the duties of urban hinin was the regulation of unregistered transients, called nohinin (“wild” hinin) if they begged or called mushuku (literally, “without lodgings”) more generally. The unregistered were peasants or townspeople who had fallen on hard times; by dropping out of society (by virtue of being removed from village or town population registers and hence losing their place within the status order) they had effectively forfeited their commoner status, at least temporarily.
None of this denies the constructedness of the polity, but it does remind us that even constructs have real power: a severed head is no construct, however arbitrary the polity that ordered it cut off. Real power over life, property, and livelihood is reality enough. 1 The Tokugawa hegemony thus established prevailed until 1868, when the nascent Meiji regime brought Japan into the modern world. 2 In fact, the shogunate did indeed function as a state apparatus, as revealed in the way it had, by the middle of the seventeenth century, achieved a virtual monopoly over the formation of national political and social institutions.
Comrade Loves of the Samurai (Tuttle Classics) by Saikaku Ihara, E. Powys Mathers