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| Interpretation of Human Relations in Saikuku Essay

Human relations in the samurai culture were very much focused on class differentials and discriminations in privileges among different classes. To climb up the social ladder, members, that is males, were to incorporate prostitution and power into their lifestyle which were regarded as two highly esteemed activities of socially respected and higher class characteristics.

Human relations were bound with strong social obligations which seem brutal and unfair if considered in the light of the modern ideology, such as the relationship between man and his wife, which was merely a hollow contractual agreement to produce heirs and future samurais. The young offspring which they brought up were to only become men who only respected male and female prostitutes and not the women in their own homes. The women who are not prostitutes do not deserve real love in their lives and even if they are loved, the affection bestowed on them is secondary to that given to the prostitutes.

Another aspect of the human relations was too much dependence on social obligations and class differences, rituals and traditions. In the light of the example of male love, it could be argued that to some boys, the practice may have been offensive and may have shared love with their wives but could not openly express it due to the disregard of the society and relevance of only male love among the masses, making them only silently accepting what is expected of them and not changing the rules. Thus, the human relations were tightly bound around social class differentials and cultural rules of prostitution, preferably homosexuality and male dominations.


It would be wrong to say that Saikuku’s opinion about the homosexual practices of pre-modern Japan and the reflection on the samurai culture was unbiased. It was highly biased as he served less importance for women in his stories and regarded them as mere ornaments that produced heirs and raised samurais who were then sent for training and developed strong bonding with other boys with whom they were to have initial sexual experiences as part of their samurai training and climb up with the social ladder with the manly prestige they received with the practice. Saikuku highly praised the concept which was reflected in each of the short stories in the book Great Mirror of Male Love.

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