chapter  2
21 Pages

Homosexuality in Japanese History

Male homosexuality has a long and well-attested tradition in Japan going back at least a thousand years. However, until recently the notion of the homosexual as a distinct type of sexual being has not been apparent in Japanese culture. Although there are clearly documented traditions of homosexual relationships occurring in a variety of contexts such as the Buddhist monastery, the samurai castle and the kabuki theatre, each with its own distinct terms and etiquette, same-sex eroticism was understood as simply one kind of erotic enjoyment which was not considered to exclude opposite-sex attraction. However, despite the fact that same-sex eroticism is celebrated in much of premodern Japanese art, poetry and literature, this has little relevance for the way in which homosexuality is understood today either by the wider society or by homosexual men themselves.