Last night I watched a documentary made by a woman, a well-educated and intelligent woman, who was raped by a well respected Japanese journalist. Her story was very sad and her outcome was not satisfactory. The case was dismissed, at the last minute, as there was insufficient evidence. The man was the biographer of Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan. The woman’s treatment by the authorities and the media in Japan highlighted the problem of misogyny and disempowerment of women. Another recent case saw an idol from a female J-pop group get attacked in her home by two known stalkers and the result was not only were they not charged with breaking into her home and physically attacking her, she was made to publicly apologise to the men for embarrassing them.
Japanese culture is so interesting and the diversions, kinks and perversions are one of the things that make it so unique. From salary men with teddy bear phone covers, reading manga to Osaka Obaa-chans in leopard print and patent leather stilettos, Japan has a very long history of sub-cultures, some socially accepted, others not so much. I have been looking at all kinds of different historical groups and decided to write a series about women and criminals in Japan and the historical background that has forged the current attitudes in Japanese society.
In order to better understand the current situation, I have delved into the feudal caste system that existed in Japan. Essentially a four-tiered social structure, there were some people who existed outside the system, some above and many below. The groups below are the ones I am interested in, and the ones where the roots of the current attitudes can be found. Here is a picture of the system.
A quick glossary:
Eta~ literally “an abundance of defilement” tanners, executioners, butchers, slaughterhouse workers and undertakers.
Hinin~ “non-human” ex-convicts, vagrants, street cleaners, town guards and entertainers.
Ronin~ lordless samurai (unemployed)
Oiran~ highly ranked courtesans, entertainers and prostitutes.
Tayu~ highest ranked and highest paid oiran
Geisha~ entertainers and artisans
I will start with the ladies, and intend to write about samurai women, female ninjas, kabuki origins, geisha, oiran and how these women laid the path for manga, anime and current attitudes towards women in modern day Japan.