Friday, February 15, 2008

Hagakure on Homosexuality

Being a big fan of samurai movies, it was only a matter of time before I got around to reading Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai. After seeing Ghost Dog (which quotes from Hagakure throughout), I expected certain things of the book, like instructions on dying honorably and honoring one's master. What I didn't expect to find, was a short segment on how to be a gay samurai. Check it:

When one is young, he can often bring on shame for a lifetime by homosexual acts. To have no understanding of this is dangerous. As there is no one to inform young men of this matter, I can give its general outline.

One should understand that a woman is faithful to only one husband. Our feelings go to one person for one lifetime. If this is not so, it is the same as sodomy of prostitution. This is shame for a warrior. Ihara Saikaku has written a famous line that goes, "An adolescent without an older lover is the same as a woman with no husband." But this sort of person is ridiculous.

A young man should test an older man for at least five years, and if he is assured of that person's intentions, then he too should request the relationship. A fickle person will not enter deeply into a relationship and later will abandon his lover.

If they can assist and devote their lives to each other, then their nature can be ascertained. But if one partner is crooked, the other should say that there are hindrances to the relationship and sever it with firmness. If the first should ask what those hindrances are, then one should respond that he will never in his life say. If he should continue to push the matter, one should get angry; if he continues to push even further, cut him down.

Furthermore, the older man should ascertain the younger's real motives in the aforementioned way. If the younger man can devote himself and get into the situation for five or six years, then it will not be unsuitable.

Above all, one should not divide one's way into two. One should strive in the Way of the Samurai.
Now, I don't know about you, but I'm thinking that's good relationship advice in general (except for the whole, cutting them down part). If you know someone for 5 years and are willing to wait that long to commit to them, you probably have a good thing going. I LOVE that his only real 'warning' against homosexual behavior is that it shouldn't be used as an excuse to be a slut!

If only our crazy anti-gay marriage people could be as enlightened as people thousands of years ago. We'd have no problem with letting couples commit to each other, no matter what genitalia they might happen to posses.


Anonymous said...

very good post

i just bought hagakure today and saw that stuff on page 64 about homosexuality and it causes me to search up on homosexuality in ancient japan/samurai culture and i stumbled upon youre blog.

Dan said...

hi. I´ve been training samurai martial arts for over 10 years and I've done a lot of research, Hagakure is a terrible book, the guy who wrote it wasn`t even a warrior. It`s a shame it`s so popular and a reference of the samurai culture. The truth is that we know very little about them, they destroyed pretty much everything after the Bakumatsu.