what they are, history, function, meaning, what they do

what they are, history, function, meaning, what they do

Cinema and literature have formed an identity marked by cultural prejudices and not very faithful to the reality of samurai and geisha.

Brutal and dark, sensual and mysterious. Samurai and geisha are two of the most iconic figures in the secular Japanese tradition.encompassing the world of war and arts and culture. From them was created the reputation of a lone and noble honorable soldier; immersed in them karyukai (“the world of flowers and willows”) were viewed as prostitutes, especially in the West, when a close relationship with one of them at a meeting was unlikely.

In cinema and literature, he built an identity that left his mark, not quite faithful to the reality of both. cultural prejudices perpetuating stereotypes and patterns that are sometimes idealized and others distorted by culture.

Honor and honesty…not always respected

The samurai was trained and trained in some way. exclusively military caste following a strict code of honor called bushido (“the way of the warrior”)ways that noble warriors had to observe in their daily lives and vocations.

while in japan feudalismThe professional warrior class became important: they were known as samuraiwhat does it literally mean protection anyone participantbut the word was also adopted bushi (“fighting knights”).

The main principle of this aristocratic class, to fulfill his duty to the daimyo or his master without fear of death. These particular professional warriors were different from court officials, palace officials, and conscripted peasants.

One of the most intriguing concepts of his code was this: honesty anyone Justice:

“Truthfulness is the power to decide rationally, without hesitation, in a particular course of action; To die when appropriate, to strike when appropriate.

Old illustration of a fully armored Japanese samurai. Original work published in the book Young Americans in Japan By E. Gray, published in the USA by Lee and Shepard in 1881.

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They were not always true to their principles.

Thus, even in the last days of feudalism, when long peace brought leisure to the warrior class, the adjective gishi (“man of righteousness”) considered superior to all other concepts. However, they did not always have daimyo to serve; ronin– and sometimes they changed their feudal lords and did not follow the principle of loyalty.

Bushidō principles were exalted, but not always respected by the samurai. Triptych supporting the Bushido framework chi, jin, yu (“wisdom, benevolence, and courage”).

Civilians loved money and soldiers feared death, and this is what the samurai in theory disapproved of, but circumstances and history meant that they could not always stick to these principles.

Some samurai were characterized by selfishness and violence: a samurai could kill a peasant if he did not show him enough respect, and although luxury was seen as the greatest threat to masculinity and the fiercest austerity was demanded from the warrior class, some samurai were also usurpers and took advantage of their social status.

Neither so lonely nor only men

Myth and myth, samurai lone heroaway from the world and society. However, the samurai they had families and many fought alongside their fathers and brothers and became wives. they lived by shaping power clans and women also received military training from their youth. In many regions it was customary for a samurai woman to hang her after marriage. naginata -Japanese halberd with curved blades- over the entrance to the family home to have on hand when needed.

Also the history of the samurai female charactersa small group of warrior women fighting for the survival and honor of their families, either because they are being trained for war or to defend their stronghold while their husbands go on a campaign.

Tomoe Gozen (1157-1247) is one of them. samurai warriors and came forward Battle of Gempei from the end of the twelfth century. These women were known as: onna bugeisha. Hojo Masako (1156-1225) was another woman who ruled the main areas of the country and fought alongside the army. Minamoto clan. During the Sengoku period (1467-1568), the feudal lords were constantly at war, and this meant that the clan’s women Defend your castles: It was time to bloom onna bugeishaTrained in martial arts and weapon use.

Getty Pictures

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Same-sex relationships to preserve masculinity

Samurai had sexual relations with women and formed families, but they also wakashudo anyone sudo (“young man’s way”)a discipline consisting of instructing young men about love and sexual relations.

In this practice, which was in force from the Middle Ages to the end of the 19th century, mature man sexually initiated a young man. The older one was called nenja, and the younger one was called wakashü. This tradition derived the samurai class from Buddhist monasteries.

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It was thought that if a teenager’s sexual intercourse was performed by a woman, the adolescent could engage in sexual intercourse. feminization and not attaining the qualifications of the warrior class.

With these relationships bond of loyalty and devotion between the two. The samurai offered the young man protection and work, and he was supposed to be sincere and loyal. how long the relationship lasted child coming of age and then they both maintained a friendship. With the restoration of the Meiji period and the influence of Christianity and Western culture, this practice was upheld and abandoned.

In peace, new roles

Although samurai despised duties other than their own warrior characterDuring the Tokugawa shogunate, or Edo period, a long war-free period from 1603 to 1868 forced them to change their lives for survival and questioned their existence.

So they had to adopting new roles as officers of the administrative organizations of the shogunate or the asylums of each region. Outside of his class, the samurai continued to take on security, law-making, restoration of roads and bridges, flood control, fire and disaster prevention, and other functions until then.

this Meiji Restoration that was their end: some were part of the new government and one even became director of the National Bank. They were forced to give back their land in exchange for government bonds and were forbidden to carry their swords.

By 1970 his heirs held 21% of Japan’s management positions. Today they are part of political and financial institutions and they have left that behind. legendary character heroes who are far from ordinary life.

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The dirty war of the samurai

ruled by samurai Honour, so for espionage or dirty war work they had to turn to others who did the work for them. this shinobi -anyone ninjasas it is known worldwide – mercenary warriors He is responsible for performing clandestine deeds and assassinations.

shinobi literally “information collector” and also “hidden” Y “secret traveler” Most of the time they were women. in kunoidisguised as servants to infiltrate castles. The Shinobi were experts in infiltration, assassination, stealing…the samurai had to rely on them in their strategy to carry out tasks that were unworthy of them but could pay others to do.

In the middle of the 15th century, the organizations he formed samurai families He engaged in such activities in the provinces of Iga and Koga.

Shinobi, unlike samurai, were born shinobi: knowledge was transferred from father to son, from teacher to student, and as samurai families, their training was widespread and began from childhood: martial arts, katana, art, spear, bow, pistol, arquebus, horseback riding and swimming, writing writing, cartography, survival, knowledge of explosives and poisons, etc.

In short, the shinobi’s task was to enter, take action and leave, creating chaos. Then the samurai could launch the final attack and take the glory of battle.

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Geisha, forbidden fruit

history of geisha
Portrait of tea house maid Naniwaya Okita in a beautiful kimono serving a cup of tea, 1790. Artist Utamaro Kitagawa (1753-1806) was a ukiyo-e master and a very famous printmaker. Her style is called “bijinga” (pictures of beautiful women).

Geisha wielding guns over 400 years of tradeusually judged under the distorted focus of a western gaze and superficial with no understanding of Japanese culture or aesthetics.

Sensuality of geishas –geikoin the Kyoto dialect-, trained to display delicate and suggestive femininity that every detail, movement, color or gesture has a meaning and should not confuse the practice of prostitution with the work they do as gracious and attentive companions.

Geisha are not prostitutes, nor almost never happened. mean geisha artistone who masters an art (sha) (gei)– and geishas in the past were only men. In ancient times they were called saburuko or “serving”.

Geisha, aesthetic pleasures and their formation requires hard training and years of study. Although their origins tied them to former prostitutes and prostitutes, their duties since the 18th century were to sing and dance.

In the twelfth century there were already women acting. samurai entertain. When the shogun banned it in the 17th century female kabukiDeciding to be interpreted only by men, causing constant controversy among the audience, these women became music or dance instructors or prostitutes in noble houses.

The entertainment districts in which they worked were named in 1661 by the writer Ryoi Asai. ukiyo (“floating earth”), areas where people live for a few minutes, life of illusions There, sensual, intelligent and talented prostitutes learned music and dance to attract customers.

Sensual escorts and performers

The first woman to call herself a geisha, kikuya A prostitute from the Fukawaya neighborhood in Edo decided to honor her trade by using her art for singing and dancing. Thus, geishas have become more valued and even desirable than their predecessors, the prostitutes.

In the 19th century, the process was as follows: A man spent the night in a house. tearoom, filled a few geisha glasses and entertained him with talking, dancing and singing. Among his duties also flirthowever, if the client later decided to go to a brothel, the geisha would leave when the couple entered the bedroom.

this US invasion of Japan It contributed to the confusion of the geisha’s role after WWII: that’s how soldiers called prostitutes, and that’s how they called themselves to offer their services.

After all, a geisha can have lovers and may also have a geisha’s protection. Danna, the official patron or lover who pays for her wardrobe as well as her apprenticeship expenses. It’s almost impossible to find a danna right now, and the company of a geisha is only meant to entertain important or foreign clients.


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