Tensions between Samurai and other power holders in Japan, warriors’ views, Sex, love and gender were major contentious issues of the 19th century that riddled the Samurai people of Japan. Samurai presented themselves as brave warriors who fought battle with their neighbors for land. It is important to note that they defended their community against attacks. They prepared young men as warrior training them in military camps. The feudal clan of upheld its cultures, rituals, and privileges to the later as each man prided himself for undergoing initiation to adulthood. According to (Katsu 140), the Samurai people depict themselves as celebrated warriors who underwent their coming of age ceremony with lots of honor.
The historians state that the leaders of Samurai ascended into power by fighting battles for the land in which they added to their territories. The Samurai leader called Daimyo declared war and dispatched his soldiers to fight the neighboring clan to acquire their land. The soldiers fought with determination, and they gave the land to the surviving Samurai in return for their loyalty.
Historians state that homosexuality began in ancient time with Scholars defining Samurai’s ancient homosexuality as shudo, wakashudo or nanshoku. Modern terms gay sex is now identified as doseiashana, gays as homosexuality as Waushara and rezubian for lesbianism. Prior to spreading to military, homosexuality was earlier practiced in the religious circles.
Samurai boys at the Wakashu age underwent martial arts training in as a transitory stage to adulthood. They were permitted to have a male lover until they came of age, relationship called “brotherhood contract.” They were strictly monogamous male relationships. The older lover or nenja would teach the younger warrior etiquette ate Samurai code of honor and the martial arts. Both parties were expected to be loyal to eternity, aid each other in their feudal duties, duels, and vendettas. Same-Sex ended when they come of age; however, they were not disengaged from heterosexual activities. After coming of age, warriors would seek the female lovers to marry (Katsu 73).
Years later the director of The Gathatto (Taboo) film, Nagisa Oshima, came painted the picture of Samurai’s culture using his educative and enchanting film. Gathatto is a Japanese word for taboo, is the prohibited practice or unconventional acts by people in the society. The plot is set in 1865BC when Japan’s strict code faced threats from other clans. To defend the Shongunate clan from attacks, a Samurai military unit became desperate to get new recruits. It recruits a nineteen-year-old boy named Kano to their military camp. Kano a fearless, handsome swordsman charmed his student’s, superiors and even Hijikati, his military captain through his looks and fighting prowess. However, his motive to enter the military is to acquire the “license to kill” and amass power (Katsu 130). With his entry, the military unit was rocked with passion desire and jealousy among the warriors and officials who want to date him. The problems and jealousy surface during the sparring sessions where Kano’s sparring partners carnal desires emerged.
It is inherent that there exists a great rift between the film and historians representations and the Samurai’s views. Other people perceive Samurai as liberal society filled with moral decay thus an unethical society. Others question how the same men practiced homosexuality and heterosexuality in the society. The historian central concern is the taboo; the infiltration of same sex relationship within the military camp. Although the later representations depict acts of gay, the Samurai pride themselves as to having finesse in martial arts evidenced by the Gohatto film has intense sword flitching in the scenes. They fight their enemies and undergo the initiation stage with lots of gusto. (Ikegami 97) depicts the Samurai as power thirsty they could do anything including killing in order to ascend to power. Kano uses his homosexuality and nice looks to amass power to the top; he is effeminate, bloodthirsty sword fighter who uses his position in Shinsengumi in order to kill. Kano is ordered to kill his lover Tadanobu to pave way for his sexual encounter with the commander Hijikati; he does it to gain subtle power. (Ikegami 120) theorizes Kano’s action as unquenchable quest for absolute power and influence. The egocentric nature has driven him to resort to dirty tricks even if it means violating his body or killing others on the way to the top.
The differences of the two representations are brought by the transition from traditional to modernized way of life. The circumstances of secluding men in a camp in the upholding of cultures can lead to unconventional way of life. Historians view Kano’s arrivals as an aspect that disorients the monastic militaries thus he becomes the destabilizing factor of the Samurai conventional culture. The Samurai view it as their own son a fulfillment of the custom. The subtitle highlights on how the character provokes other men by keeping his locks longer to sensitive men of his lucrative charms.
Lots of time has lapses, as the setting is in 1865 while the film was produced in 2002 hence the director fails to catch some of the details of ancient Samurai culture. Thus, the other people view Samurai as outdated, brute and conservative. The taboo is coined from the commandant’s rule that in his absence no same-gender relationships should be conducted, makes Kano want to oust him. There exists some discrete aperture revealed by the taboo relationship in repressive military based society.
The empowerment of women and liberation of nations have allowed them voice their concerns. This is evidenced by the profound geisha’s report on the failure of a novice man to make out with a woman in one of the side-scenes. Those were matters subject to personal interest anciently but the present society samples it to any person who cares to listen. They believe that “what goes on under the surface is no longer under the blankets.”
Currently the Japanese power, war, loves and gender has changed dramatically. The land battles have ceased. The Japan leadership form has changed laws governing property acquisition to prohibit them from fighting for land but acquiring them through legal means. The view of land as the main source economic activity has changed as Japan has embraced technological advancement, manufacturing, mining, transport, and agriculture as the forms of revenue (Katsu 77). Samurai Women have rose to positions of power and wield influence over politics and decision-making.
It is conclusive that the Samurai have a rich diverse culture evidenced by integration of feudal clan fights, homosexuality, and the coming of age of boys. Homosexuality is a predominant feature of the culture of the Samurai, though misunderstood by various parties. The change is inherent since the western influence has eroded some of their routed cultural values and rituals. The wave of change and modernization in the society has therefore no left out the Samurai people.
Ikegami, Eiko, The Taming of the Samurai: honorific individualism and the making of modern Japan. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995.
Katsu, Kokichi, Musui’s Story: The Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai. Tuscon: University of Arizona Press, 1995.