Quote Japan

Interesting, odd, outrageous or informative quotes about Japan

Tokugawa- Quotes about the Edo early modern period and the shoguns

“[Kamakura era Shogun] Yoritomo’s very unpretentious tomb is to found off to the right of the [Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu] shrine near a hill. It is an austere grave befitting a samurai, unlike the monstrous mausoleums for the Tokugawa shoguns as Nikko, which look as if they were built for mafioso dons” Insight Guides Japan

“Samurai were rather alike no matter where they were, but merchants and farmers were not” Donald Ritchie, giving yet more proof that the homogeneous standardisation of Japan was very much a class-based thing- quite similar to the standardized RP English in the UK

“There was a period in the heady, decadent days of the Edo Period when there was women’s sumo as well. At first they appeared in just loincloths like the men, but eventually the law made them cover up; the engravers of popular woodblock ukiyo-e prints had to oblige by adding vests to cover breasts” Well, the men show their tits off so why shouldn’t the women?? Insight Guides Japan

“In Nihonbashi [in Edo, now Tokyo]…the condemned were buried in the ground near the bridge with only the neck and head exposed. Lines were drawn on the neck and two saws left on either side. Any passers-by so inclined could saw off the murder’s head. Painful, but quicker than crucifixion.” Insight Guides Japan

 “The warrior class, which made up about 10% of the population, were fierce fighters who tended to be aggressive and arrogant. The common people were characteristically polite, kind, generous, hospitable, trust-worthy and diligent” Boye Lafayette De Mente in “Kata” (2003) on something that is still true now- just put the words “politicians” or “self made businessmen” in the place of the “warrior class”

“The Loyal Forty Seven Ronin…gets its impetus not from an attempted murder but from a failure to observe proper etiquette” Donald Ritchie in “Tokyo” (Reaktion Books, 1999)

“The Tokugawa state was a military hegemony, the longest lived the world has ever known. And like most hegemonies, this one found that the best insurance was bureaucracy and the most effective instrument was ritual” Donald Ritchie in “Tokyo” (Reaktion Books, 1999)

“The true samurai refused to learn arithmetic because it smelled of commerce; he was proud of his ignorance and stupidity like so many ruling classes all over the world” George Mikes, The Land of the Rising Yen
(The basic criticism of Japanese manners seems to be that)

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