It is believed that the behaviors between a man and a man in Japan before Meiji-era was based on a commitment to spend their lives together, not on their sexual desire. We call the behaviors DANSHOKU or NANSHOKU in Japan, since most of them are not male homosexuality from historical records of the past.
Introduction to queer Japan
The emperor was descended from the Sun Goddes AMATERASU OKAMI, the most powerful Kami of all according to Shinto myth.
Independence: 660 BC (traditional founding by Emperor Jimmu)
ca 300-710: Kofun period
Most Japanese(farmers, fishermen) were little influenced by the doings of the court ,paying their respects to tutelary Kami of their own villiage and shrines(the sacred places of early Shinto, the indigenous Japanese religion). "Kofun period" witnessed the introduction of Buddhism and the Chinese writing system from Asian continent and the rise of a powerful "Yamato Dynasty" that established Japan's earliest unified state. Buddhism came to Japan from China by way of Korea, as Confucianism and Taoism had earlier. Its color and pageantry, as well as ethics ,was attractive to both the rulers and the masses , and it spread quickly. The Japanese adopted many of the Confucian principles , particulary the familial duties , while retaining their belief in Kami and worshiping at Shinto shrines. Prince Shotoku issued the Seventeen Articles Constitution, Japan's first written code oflaws, that would help modernize Japan by the Confucian principles. Chinese brought their Taoist beliefs to Japan. Taoism regarded nature with respaect like Shinto. Some of the Taoism gods were incorporated into the Japanese Pantheon.
The last century of "Kofun period" is called "Asuka period( 593-710)",
that is generally considered Japan's first historical age.
During this period, a series of institutional innovations
created a centralized bureaucratic state based on the Chinese model.
ca 710-794: Nara perod
"Nara period" was characterized by the maturation of the old Chinese-inspired law system of government and the active adoption of other aspects of Chinese culture and technology. Buddhism gained official recognition as the state religion, and temples were constructed all over Japan to buttress the authority of central state. Six schools(Kusha, Jojitsu, Ritsu, Sanron, Hosso, and Kegon) established their residency at Nara the capital of an anicent Japan. "Nara period" saw the flowering of the arts such as the compilation of "Kojiki", "Nihon shoki" and "Man'yoshu". The "kojiki" and "Nihon shoki" are Japan's first historical chronicles, and "Man'yoshu" is the first anthology of old Japanese poetry.
See also "Man'yoshu" "Nihonshoki"
ca 794-1185: Heian period
"Heian period" saw the full assimilation of Chinese influences and the flowering of an indigenous aristocratic culture. The development of the Japanese "kana" syllables gave birth to a truly native literary tradition, including some of the finest works of Japanese poetry and prose, such as "The Tale of Genji". Politically, "Heian period" was characterised by the donation of imperial court by regents. "Heian period" witnessed the growing power of provincial warrior bands and the proliferation of private estates, that brought about the disintegration of the old law system "Rituryo". It did not sink deep roots among the people as Buddhism did, though Confucianism was important for Japanese court etiquette and ceremony. The samurai, warrior people, lived by a code of honor known as "Bushido". Many Buddhist monks in a Buddhist monastery practiced "the homosexuality" with "Tigo" who served for the monks because the relationships with female were absolutely prohibited in the Buddhist dogma. There was a rich development of the Tendai and Zen schools. The cute boys " Tigo" served as the important partners for life. The Buddhist priest "Genshin" published "OJOYOSHU" ( Essential of Pure Land Rebirth) in 985, said people got fiery punishment in "homosexuals". As a aristocracy contacted with a Buddhist clergy, "homosexuality" had become popular among them. Ki no Tsurayuki/ (Ki no Tsurayuki) wrote " The Tosa Diary". We find examples of men writing as women.
See also "TORIKAEBAYA MONOGATARI (TORIKAEBAYA STORY)"
"Ki Tsurayuki/Ki no Tsurayuki"
ca 1185-1333: Kamakura period
"Kamakura period" heralded the rise to political power of the provincial warrior class. "Shogunate" was inherited in a series of military government that would rule Japan until the mid-19th century. Other events are "Mongol Invasion", the introduction of " Zen Buddhism", and the emergence of new sects of Buddhism, such as the Pure Land, Nichiren schools. The cute boys were served in court as entertainers and sexual partners.
See also "Genpeiseisuiki"
ca 1333-1568: Muromachi period
"Muromachi shogunate" was disrupted by powerful provincial governers, and many conflicts and wars. And a century of civil war known as "Sengoku period (1467-1568)" collapsed all over Japan. "Muromachi period" saw the impressive development of new artistic forms such as "No" and "kyogen", as well as "Zen"-inspired arts such as the tea ceremony, flower arrangement, and ink printing. The cute boys were served in court as entertainers and sexual partners. In fact, the invunerable relationship between samurai played a very important role in unsettled society in Sengoku-period.
See also "Otogi Zoshi"
ca 1568-1600: Azuchi-Momoyama period
Peace came to Japan under the military leader "Hideyoshi". Warriors patronage supported the construction of castles throughout the country and a spectacular flourishing of the decorative arts, epitomized by the opulent style of artists. During "Azuchi-Momoyama period" Japan was exposed to Western culture through contact with European traders and missionaries. The real strong relationship between "ODA Nobunaga"and "MORI Ranmaru" was admired in Japan. When the Jesuit priest "Francis XAVIER" was in Japan, he was surprised to know the fact that "the homosexuality" was practiced so openly. Japan had a long history of welcoming and incorporating other traditions into its religious mix. Buddhism, like Taoism and Confucianism ,had accommodated itself to Shito ways and vice versa ,though Christianity would not do that. By now Christianity never truly prospered here in Japan.
ca 1600-1868: Edo period
The early stage of Edo period
"Tokugawa shogunate" instituted a political structure over 200 years peace followed. Japan was isolated from potentially disruptive foreign influences through its policy of "National Seclusion" except the two "Holland"( Netherland) and Chinese merchants. While the Tokugawa shoguns accepting Neo Confucian Philosophy of Zhu Xi as a model for their state, the shoguns cut off relations with Cina altogether. The confucian used Neo Confucian theory to justify the division into four classes: nobles and samurai, farmaers, artisans, and merchants. Militaly action in no-war era, the samurai still think a duty to practice their martial arts by the samurai code known as Bushido, the way of the warrior. "Anrakuansakuden"published " Sensuisyou" that described "homoseuality" in "Sengoku period " in Japan. "Saikaku ihara", the chief among the "homosexual"-story writers, published "NANSHOKU OKAGAMI"( The Great Mirror of Male/ Comrade Loves of the Samurai) in 1687.
See also " Anrakuan Sakuden"
See also " Saikaku Ihara"
The late stage of Edo period
Dramatic forms such as "Kabuki" and "Joruri", and in artistic genres such as "Ukiyo-e" was inspired by the thriving merchant class. "Shogunate" lost its ability to assert national authority when "Tokugawa regime" collapsed. "The homosexuality" was concerned with the military and religious elites. "A homosexual" subculture flourished in big cities, such as Kyoto, Osaka, and Edo( Tokyo). Actors of female roles in the kabuki was developed and brought to the kabuki theater as "homoerotic" stuff. Resarchers of Japanese literature Tohei Okabe et al. found the beginning of "homosexuality" in Japan at "Nihonshoki". They call it "The Sin of Azunai".
See also " Hagakure" " Jippensha Ikku" " Tsuruya Numboku"
website of until or during Edo period
ca 1868-1912: Meiji period
"Meiji Restoration" of direct imperial rule commenced the "Meiji period" and began Japan's transformation into a modern industrial society from a medieval one. Abolition of feudal classes( warriors, farmers, craftsmans, merchants) and the establishment of universal education helped create a unified national polity. During the latter part of the period Japan emerged as a major imperialist power through victories. Western moral concept rushed on Japan and the status of homosexuality became similar to that of occidental countries. Shinto schlars advanced the doctorine that Shinto deities were the truly reality and Buddhist gods their reflection, and Confucianism and Buddhism lost some of their influence. Shinto as the national religion emphasized the divine origins of the imperial line and promoted a sense of national pride and unity that had waned under Buddhism. Emperor Meiji led Shinto ceremonies, addressing all the Kami and read the newly issued Imperial Charter Oath.
ca 1912-1926:Taisho period
The democratic tendencies were supported by the emergence of an educated urban middle class and the rise of new forms of mass media. An economic downturn and authoritarian measures began to erode the gains made by Japan's first experiment with democracy.
ca 1926-1989: Showa perod
In its first decades an ultranationalist coalition of right-wing politicians and army officers seized control of the country, engaging in domestic political repression and setting Japan on a course of militarist expansionism in continental Asia. Japan's defeat in World War Second ushered in a period of Occupation by Allied Military Forces and sweeping democratic reforms that included a new Constitution of Japan after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Shinto would never again be state mandated or supported, though it would survive as the principal religion of Japanese people. ---European domination at one time in Japan, it can be said "Victorian era". When the pompous self-righteous Victorian English entered Japan They left Japan with silly Victorian values. the word for "gay" , "queer" use to be "Bi-do", "Dansyoku",or "wakashudo". It was very common and considered unusual for a wealthy men not to have a special man friend this was not liked by the Victorians. And Japanese culture then began to change dramatically and still even today Japanese still suffer from Victorian values for example Japanese must not see a fall frontal of a naked man. The Victorian English introduced gun ship diplomacy and the notion of empire to the Japanese. The Japanese admired what they saw with this Victorian superpower, they dressed in suits, they built a Navy just the same as England. Like England they decided to build a empire they beat Russia in a naval battle. And grew from then on. The unusual thing about Japan is they kept for so long the Victorian values even after the war with America.---(thanks to Philip in UK)
See also "Yukio Mishima" " Kumagusu Minakata"
Japanese history/literature of homosexuality:
 Tale of Murasaki
 The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan by Gary P. Leupp
 Fallen Warriors as Mass Media Stars: Popular Representations of Heike Monogatari in the Edo Period
Bamboo Clappers Strike the Hateful Number
Lesbian and Gay Marriage - History and Culture
The "Beautiful Way" of the Samurai
 The Oracle: EssaysHOMOSEXUALITY IN MEDIEVAL JAPAN
 Homoeroticism and Modernity from Kansei to Showa
 Intersections: Male Homosexuality and Popular Culture in Modern Japan by Mark McLelland
Partings at Dawn (An Anthology of Japanese Gay Literature)by Stephen D. MillerAMAZON.COM
Queer Japan : Personal Stories of Japanese Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals by Barbara Summerhawk(Editor), et al AMAZON.COM
Japanese Infomation center /history
Japanese History Overview, and ancient to modern Japan
Japanese History ResourcesAsian History research links for high school and college students
WWW Sites for Japanese History lots of links
Japanese History: The Founding Myth
National Museum of Japanese History Covers history of Japan from prehistoric periods to modern times
The Distortion and the Revision of History in Postwar Japanese Textbooks, 1945-1998Tomochika OKAMOTO
 Academic Info Japan Studies: Japanese History
CHRONOLOGY OF JAPANESE HISTORY THE TABLE OF JAPANESE ERA NAMES
http://www.jinjapan.org/museum/historyofjp/histjp.htmlHistory of Japan
History of Japan Prehistoric Japan During the Jomon period, which began around 10,000 BC, the inhabitants of Japan lived by fishing, hunting, and gathering. The period is named after the cord-markings (jomon) on the pottery they produced.
 Japanese History
JAPANESE HISTORY THROUGH FILM
Modernity and Before: Some Issues for Japanese Historical Studies
History of Japan's Literature:
History of Japan's Literature
Japanese Literature information came from Microsoft Encarta
Samurai Archives Japanese History Page
History of some religions:
 Japanese History Pages - Tendai BuddhismShinto, tendai, and Shingon
Homosexuality in the Japanese Buddhist TraditionWestern Buddhist review
 Homosexuality and Theravada Buddhism by A. L. De Silva
Books Cosmo Buddhist Books On-line LOVE OF THE SAMURAI THOUSAND YEARS OF JAPANESE HOMOSEXUALITY, PARTINGS AT DAWN: AN ANTHOLOGY OF JAPANESE GAY LITERATURE
History of homosexuality:
Homosexuality in History
PEOPLE WITH A HISTORY: An Online Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans* History
International Museum of Gay and Lesbian History
The World history of Male Love
 Gay hitory.coman introduction to the stories and the people of modern gay history (1700-1973).
Bibliography: Lesbian & Gay History, Politics & CultureA Guide to gayhistory.com. timeline The People and the Stories of Modern Gay History
 Homosexuality in History: A Partially Annotated Bibliography the history of homosexuality is organized by time period and theme
Gay History and Literature:
Gay History and Literature
Gay Men's Literature in the 20th Century Mark Lilly
Japanese personal pages relating to Homosexuality in Japan/ Japanese text:
 MY MORGUE
 KOTOITO'S PAGE
Nihon Ni Okeru Douseiai No Rekishi