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Love and sexuality in japanese literature

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Saikaku, born in Osaka inbecame a renowned poet who wrote about the fluid, open sexuality of Edo Period pleasure quarters with a startling lack of inhibition: Today, the recognition afforded to the LGBT community is hotly debated in the country, and though traditionally conservative nations such as Ireland have legalized same-sex marriage, Japan is lagging behind.

Writers, stretching from Ihara to modern authors such as Natsume Soseki and Yukio Mishima, have often approached sexuality with curiosity. Mishima was not exaggerating: In Meiji Era novels, homoerotic subjects were treated extremely subtly.

In it, a samurai makes a promise to return by the time of the Chrysanthemum Festival to visit a Confucian scholar who has nursed him back to health, but he finds himself detained in a far off place, unable to fulfill Love and sexuality in japanese literature promise.

He kills himself and allows his liberated ghost to make the appointment on his behalf. Is this a noble tale of samurai honor or of two men whose love is so intense that one would rather die than disappoint the other?

In the Judaic, Christian and Muslim traditions homosexuality is proscribed, but in Japan, where the Buddhist and Confucian ideals of deference, loyalty and dedication were promoted, same-sex relationships were accepted.

One of the most famous examples, later depicted in the kabuki plays of writers such as Tsuruya Namboku IV, was the devotion of the year-old youth Mori Ranmaru to the brutal warlord Oda Nobunaga It was so intense that he died alongside his lord — "Love and sexuality in japanese literature" by his own hand.

There is a temptation though to see the sexual attitudes of this period as relaxed and open compared to later repressions of the Meiji Era. Relaxed attitudes to sex and gender did not extend to anything that might have disrupted the social order — women were subservient to their husbands and adultery was a criminal offense punishable by death.

The oppressive aspect of Edo Period morality is acutely depicted in the bunraku and kabuki plays of Chikamatsu Monzaemon During this period, so-called pleasure quarters were demarcated as the only acceptable areas for men to relieve sexual frustration and energy with prostitutes before returning to the fold of social conformity.

In the name of order, the ruling shogunate watched these quarters Love and sexuality in japanese literature to ensure they did not exceed certain bounds. The Edo Period saw a long stream of edicts by the shogunate proscribing immoral behavior, including the banning of licentious books and art works.

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