Japanese History For Gay Men

There are divergence of views in fact.

editor: momiji
First edited on JANUARY 12, 2000
second revision on SEPTEMBER 17, 2000
Third revision on MAY 5, 2001
4th revision on JULY 9,2001
5th revision on SEPTEMBER 24,2001
6th revision on MAY 22,2002
7th revision on JUNE 23,2002
8th revision on JANUARY 16,2005
The Tales of Ise(Ise-monogatari), The Story of Heike/The Tales of the Heike Heike-monogatari, Genpeiseisuiki ,Essays in Idleness( The Tsurezuregusa of Kenko)
9th revision on JANUARY 23,2005
Shinto ,Buddhism ,Confucianism ,Taoism ,and Christianity
10th revision on JANUARY 30,2005
Neo Confucianism

Thanks J.M.

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)

1) Very young boy-male "homosexuality" stage(ancient-Kamakura period):

Male "homosexuality" is supposed that it was from ancient times in Japan. Since introduction of Buddhism into Japan, Buddhist monks have achieved a dominant place in respect of culture and politics. They lived in a steep mountains zone isolated with a society, and developed their original sexual custom by themselves. Also, an aristocrat the governing classes was influenced of a priest of high virtue, and male "homosexuality" progressed from the last stage of Heian period when an appearance of samurai as a guard. In the place isolated from a society like a battlefield, a female is absent and their original society was made by samurai. Since the samurai was seriously influenced of Buddhism or they served for the aristocrats, they inherited priests' custom as it was, and spread the custom further. They love about 10-16,17-year-old boy who were called "TIGO" and "KATTUJIKI or KATSUJIKI". Their hairstyle and clothes seemed to be girls'.

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.
"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"

2) Young boy -male "homosexuality" stage(the early stages of Muromachi-Edo):

Townsmen got vitality and "Dengaku" and "Sarugaku" progressed "Boy-Play", that became a foundation of "Noh play", and "Wakashu kabuki" in the early stages of Edo. The Edo period was the society that samurai governed, the sexual practice of samurai was inherited by the governed classes townspeople that caused and spread a boy prostitution in the early stages of Edo. Feudal society starts with National Isolation, where people need an outlet for their energy. They promote sexual love by the policy of Tokugawa shogunate that made "kabuki" more sexual performance. They like boys about 11,12 to 20 years old. In Medieval Times Buddhist temples outshone the Shinto shrines. The Tokugawa government required every family to belong to Buddhist temples and every home to have a Buddhist altar.

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"

3) Pseudo female-male "homosexuality" stage(Edo middle) :

The middle stage of Edo period
While the peaceful time continued and samurai class feminized, townspeople class gained power. The way of male homosexuality was also feminized and seemingly the motto was emphasized on their enjoyment. With this, "Yaro Kabuki" started by a professional boy. The boy "Wakashu or Wakashudo" was treated as a female not as a male.
See also "Akinari Ueda"

4) Modern male-male "homosexuality" stage(the late Edo period - Showa) :

Tokugawa government also came to control the practice gradually as the "the crime for boys" increased. The practice of the male "homosexuality" was diminished as it shifted to the society led by townspeople, since intrinsically townspeople didn't have the custom of male "homosexuality". And the thought of Christianity society has flowed in by the downfall of samurai government and surrender of the Pacific War.

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 [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7]

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"

5) Today male-male homosexuality stage(Heisei-today) :

Those who just enjoyed the sexual love came to puzzled about the homosexuality of the mainstream in Japan after the people faced the reality, such as AIDS, a discrimination. Forbidden information previously monopolized by some men became quite open by the spread of the Internet. Since customs unique to Japan have already became extinct, research of male homosexuality has started by the Western research technique. They call themselves gay that appeared in Japan by influence of western gay society.
ca 1989-: Heisei Period
In the early 1990s the economics of Japan showed great growth. After the late 1990s Japan has serious financial trouble. Much homosexual expression still remains hidden among us. There have been no specific provisions dealing with homosexuality in the legal code. Female homosexuality has never received attention in the legal codes.

Japanese history/literature of homosexuality:
[1] Tale of Murasaki
[2] The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan by Gary P. Leupp
[3] Fallen Warriors as Mass Media Stars: Popular Representations of Heike Monogatari in the Edo Period
[4]Bamboo Clappers Strike the Hateful Number
[5]Lesbian and Gay Marriage - History and Culture
[6]The "Beautiful Way" of the Samurai
[8] Homoeroticism and Modernity from Kansei to Showa
[9] Intersections: Male Homosexuality and Popular Culture in Modern Japan by Mark McLelland
[10]Partings at Dawn (An Anthology of Japanese Gay Literature)by Stephen D. MillerAMAZON.COM
[11]Queer Japan : Personal Stories of Japanese Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals by Barbara Summerhawk(Editor), et al AMAZON.COM

General history:
[12]Japanese Infomation center /history
[13]Japanese History Overview, and ancient to modern Japan
[14]Japanese History ResourcesAsian History research links for high school and college students
[15]WWW Sites for Japanese History lots of links
[16]Japanese History: The Founding Myth
[17]National Museum of Japanese History Covers history of Japan from prehistoric periods to modern times
[18]The Distortion and the Revision of History in Postwar Japanese Textbooks, 1945-1998Tomochika OKAMOTO
[19] Academic Info Japan Studies: Japanese History
[21]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.
[22] Japanese History
[24]Modernity and Before: Some Issues for Japanese Historical Studies

History of Japan's Literature:
[25]History of Japan's Literature
[26]Japanese Literature information came from Microsoft Encarta

Samurai History:
[27]Samurai Archives Japanese History Page

History of some religions:
[28] Japanese History Pages - Tendai BuddhismShinto, tendai, and Shingon
[29]Homosexuality in the Japanese Buddhist TraditionWestern Buddhist review
[30] Homosexuality and Theravada Buddhism by A. L. De Silva

History of homosexuality:
[32]Homosexuality in History
[33]PEOPLE WITH A HISTORY: An Online Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans* History
[35]International Museum of Gay and Lesbian History
[36]The World history of Male Love
[37] Gay hitory.coman introduction to the stories and the people of modern gay history (1700-1973).
[38]Bibliography: Lesbian & Gay History, Politics & CultureA Guide to gayhistory.com. timeline The People and the Stories of Modern Gay History
[39] Homosexuality in History: A Partially Annotated Bibliography the history of homosexuality is organized by time period and theme

Gay History and Literature:
[40]Gay History and Literature
[41]Gay Men's Literature in the 20th Century Mark Lilly

Japanese personal pages relating to Homosexuality in Japan/ Japanese text:
[45]Nihon Ni Okeru Douseiai No Rekishi

Resources | START PAGE

references: 1)Chronology of Japanese History, Kodansha Internationl Ltd. :p10-p123,1999
2)Edwin O. REISHAUER et al. :JAPAN An Illustrated Encyclopedia, KODANSYA: p555, 1993
3)Michihiro Matsumoto and Boye Lafayette De Mente : Japanese Nuance in Plain English?, Kodansha International Ltd. : p61-p143, 2000
4) Shinbei Nozawa et al. : Nihonshikijiten, Yamakawa publishing Ltd. ,1997
5) Shinichiro Nakamura: NihonKoten-ni-miru-sei-to-ai, Shintyosya publishing Ltd. ,1975
6) Hajime Shibayama: Edo Danshoku Ko( Male homosexuality in Edo) vol.1-3, Hihansya publishing, 1993
7) Paula R.Hartz :SHINTO , Updated Edition World Religions , Facts On File,Inc. ,2004
8)Thomas and Dorothy Hoobler: CONFUCIANISM, Updated Edition World Religions, Facts On File,Inc. ,2004
9)Gary P. Leupp : Male Colors, The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan , The University of California Press ,1996
Male Colors