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Mori Ranmaru

The tradition of Japanese pederasty originated in the relationships between Buddhist and Shinto clerics and their acolytes, who were known as chigo (稚児). It was adopted in medieval times by the samurai warrior class, which utilized it as a means of acculturating young samurai into the warrior community, and as a means of reinforcing loyalty and friendship between comrades. It was known as shudō and constructed as a Way, or that had an ethic and an aesthetic, that could be transmitted, and was authoritative. The accepted pattern consisted of a dyadic couple: the nenja, or adult insertive partner, and the wakashū, or adolescent receptive partner.

After the pacification of the country under the Tokugawa shogunate the tradition was borrowed by the rising townsmen classes and became increasingly commercialized. Some of the better known pederastic couples are listed below.


Asuka period

Unknown. [1]

Nara period

  • Ōtomo no Yakamochi and Fujiwara no Kusumaro
  • Ōtomo no Yakamochi and Kon no Myogun or Yo no Myogun
    • Their mutual love poems appear in the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry, "Man'yōshū".
  • Kūkai (Kōbō-Daishi) and Taihan
    • Kukai was the legendary founder of the Japanese male love tradition, placing this relationship around 788.
  • Saichō (Dengyō Daishi) and Taihan
    • Although Taihan was Saicho's favorite pupil and promised to be the successor of archibishop in Tendai Buddhism, also around 788, he went to study Shingon Buddhism under Kukai. No matter how insistently Saicho asked Taihan to come back, his entreaties were useless (several letters are extant). Wholly devoted to Kukai, Taihan became one of the Ten Disciples of Kukai and never went back to Saicho. Indignant, Saicho severed his connection with Kukai, after which these two greatest founders of Japanese Buddhism sects remained at odds.

Heian period

Ariwara no Narihira
  • Shinga and Ariwara no Narihira
    • The relationship was between a bishop and a young aristocrat. Narihira, famous for his beauty, was a grandson of Emperor Heizei, while Bishop Shinga(801 - 879) was a younger brother and disciple of Kūkai.
  • Fujiwara no Yorimichi and Minamoto no Nagasue
    • The Regent Yorimichi loved the boy exceedingly, therefore Nagasue was not admitted to celebrate his coming-of-age ceremony (and wear adult attire and tonsure) for a long time, although he had fully grown up.[2]
  • Sensai-Shonin and Umewaka
    • Sensai (?-1127) was a high priest of Enryakuji temple, and Umewaka was his chigo (acolyte), and of noble birth.
  • Emperor Shirakawa and Fujiwara no Akitaka
    • Emperor Shirakawa loved many handsome boys, especially Fujiwara no Akitaka who was called to the Emperor's presence every night, and all of whose requests were granted; Akitaka was nicknamed "Regent of the Night".
  • Emperor Shirakawa and Fujiwara no Nobumichi
    • Nobumichi was the son of Fujiwara no Munemichi, a former wakashu of the emperor.
  • Emperor Shirakawa and Fujiwara no Narimichi
    • Narimichi was another son of Fujiwara no Munemichi.
  • Emperor Toba and Fujiwara no Ienari
    • Emperor Toba loved many beautiful youths, from aristocrats to common dancers, most of all Fujiwara no Ienari, who monopolized the political power. The confrontation between Ienari and Fujiwara no Yorinaga was one of the  causes of The Hōgen Rebellion.[3]
  • Fujiwara no Yorinaga and Fujiwara no Tadamasa
    • Fujiwara no Yorinaga was a famous male-lover. In his diary there are many mentions on his erotic life with many men and boys. Fujiwara no Tadamasa (1129 - 1193), a young nobleman, was not only one of Yorinaga's lovers, but also Yorinaga's father Fujiwara no Tadazane's lover.[5]

Fujiwara no Yorinaga was a famous male-lover. In his diary there are many mentions on his erotic life with many men and boys. Fujiwara no Tadamasa (1129 – 1193), a young nobleman, was not only one of Yorinaga's lovers, but also Yorinaga's father Fujiwara no Tadazane's lover.[6]

  • Mongaku (high priest) and Taira no Takakiyo(Rokudai)
  • Minamoto no Yoshinaka and Imai Kanehira(1152-1184)
    • Yoshinaka adored Imai so much that he wanted to die with him since they were children according to the Heike Monogatari and Zeami Motokiyo's nohplay "Kanehira". In the end they both died together in Awazu.

Kamakura period

  • Jikyū( priest of Kenchō-ji) and Shiragiku (or Shiragikumaru, beautiful chigo)

Muromachi period

  • Ashikaga Yoshimochi and Akamatsu Mochisada (?-1427)
    • Shogun Yoshimochi, son of Yoshimitsu, granted lands which his beloved mismanaged. Akamatsu Mitsusuke brought charges against him, and he had to commit seppuku by order of his lover, the shogun, who later fell ill and died from grief.[12]
  • Ashikaga Yoshinori and Akamatsu Sadamura (nephew of Akamatsu Mochisada)
    • For love of Sadamura, Shogun Yoshinori lost his life in 1441, assassinated by Akamatsu Mitsusuke , whose lands he had wanted to take and give to Sadamura.[13]
  • Ashikaga Yoshimasa and Akamatsu Norinao
    • Norinao, granted the lands previously belonging to his uncle, Akamatsu Mitsusuke, but subsequently given to Yamana Sozen as reward for avenging the murder of Ashikaga Yoshinori, was attacked by Yamana Sozen and took his own life. The conflict ballooned into the ten year long Ōnin civil war of 1467.[14]
  • Hosokawa Takakuni and Yanagimoto Kenji
    • Takakuni, despite having sworn eternal love to Kenji, allowed Kenji's brother to be murdered. Later Kenji rose in vengeance against him with an army.
  • Yanagimoto Kenji and Takahata Jinkurō
    • Knowing Kenji prepared a rebellion, Jinkurō vowed silence, but refused to break his allegiance to Lord Takakuni.

Sengoku period

  • Takeda Shingen and Kosaka Masanobu
    • In 1543 the 22-year-old future daimyō sealed a written vow of love (still in existence) with his 16-year-old retainer, who served him as samurai in battle and page in peacetime.[19]
  • Uesugi Kenshin and Kawada Nagachika (1545?-1581)
    • Uesugi Kenshin, brave general and daimyo, he did not married throughout his life. In the military epic[20], with no historical grounds it is claimed to Kenshin that there was a sexual relation to 600 boys.
  • Ashikaga Yoshiteru and Matsui Sadonokami
    • Sadonokami remained the shogun's lover until he reached adulthood, when he entered the service of the Hosokawa family, where his descendants can be found to the present day.
  • Imagawa Ujizane and two sons of Ukai Nagateru (Imagawa Ujzane's cousin); Ukai Ujinaga and Ukai Ujitsugu.

Azuchi-Momoyama period

Maeda Toshiie
  • Oda Nobunaga and Maeda Inuchiyo (Maeda Toshiie )
    • Maeda Toshiie was very attractive as a boy, so at the age of 15 he became Oda Nobunaga's favorite and was always with him day and night. Afterwards, at a celebration banquet in 1576, Oda Nobunaga related his reminiscences and told him "You were my very favorite boy indeed, and every night slept with me on the same bed(futon)" holding Toshiie's beard with a smile. Listening to his memoirs, all samurai warriors and daimyo at the banquet were envious of Toshiie's good luck, and remarked with one voice "Bravo Maeda Toshiie! You are an extremely lucky man, because you were profoundly loved by our lord, Prince Nobunaga".[23]
  • Araki Murashige(1535-1586) and Manmi Senchiyo (Manmi Shigemoto)
    • Manmi Senchiyo was formerly a page to Araki Murashige. But he was so beautiful that Oda Nobunaga took him away from Araki.
  • Oda Nobutoki (?-1556, younger brother of Oda Nobunaga) and Sakai Magoheiji
    • Nobunaga's brothers ruined themselves because of excessive love for their favorites.
  • Uesugi Kagekatsu and Kiyono Naganori (1573?-1634)
    • Kiyono Naganori is a person whom Uesugi Kagekatsu loved passionately and very deeply all his life.
  • Toyotomi Hidetsugu and Fuwa Bansaku(or Fuwa Mansaku,1578-1595)
    • Hidetsugu, regent to the emperor, ended up having to commit seppuku in 1595, joined by his beloved Fuwa Bansaku. Fuwa Bansaku is famous as one of the three most beautiful boys (三大美少年bishōnen) of the Sengoku period.[26]
  • Kimura Yoshikiyo and Asaka Shōjirō
    • Asaka Shōjirō is famous as one of the three most beautiful boys (三大美少年bishōnen) of the Sengoku period.
  • Sagawada Masatoshi and Ishikawa Jōzan( or Ishikawa Shigeyuki , 1583-1672)
  • Yoshida Kiyoie(-1599) and Hirata Munetsugu(-1599)
  • Nakamura Kazutada(1590-1609) and Hattori Kunitomo

Tokugawa period (Edo period)

  • Matsudaira Tadayoshi (1580-1607, son of Tokugawa Ieyasu) and Ogasawara Yoshihisa (Ogasawara Kenmotsu)
  • Sakabe Gozaemon and Tokugawa Iemitsu
    • The childhood friend and retainer, aged 21, was murdered by his 16-year-old beloved as they shared a bathtub in 1620.[29] Sakabe was killed by Tokugawa Iemitsu, because he (Sakabe) had embraced and played with other boys in the bath. These boys were pages to Iemitsu.[30]
  • Date Masamune and Tadano Sakujurō (Tadano Katsuyoshi)
    • In circa 1617 the 50 year-old Daimyō sealed a written vow of love (still in existence) with his favorite boy (koshō,小姓) Tadano Sakujuro, like Takeda Shingen.[31]
  • Gamō Tadasato(1602-1627, grandson of Gamō Ujisato) and Morikawa Wakasa(extremely handsome page)
  • Ishikawa Jōzan( or Ishikawa Shigeyuki , 1583-1672) and Ishikawa Magojūrō
    • Jōzan passed away in his beloved Magojūrō's arms , like Pindar.
  • Honda Tadatoki and Miyamoto Mikinosuke (Miyamoto Sadahide)
    • Honda Tadatoki loved Mikinosuke extraordinarily, so his wife Senhime was burning with jealousy. Because of her furious jealousy, Mikinosuke was unfortunally expelled.
  • Tokugawa Tsunayoshi and Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu
    • Yoshiyasu served the shogun, 12 years his senior, from ca. 1660 at an early age, and both played major roles in the incident of the 47 ronin of 1701. Tokugawa Tsunayoshi loved boys profoundly just like his father Tokugawa Iemitsu. Tsunayoshi had the special harem of which all the members were beautiful boys, and maintained sexual relationships with more than 150 handsome youths. Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu(one of Tsunayoshi's ex-lovers) kept many beautiful boys in his premises and every time shogun Tsunayoshi visited his(Yoshiyasu's) mansion, he presented them to the shogun like Madame de Pompadour's Parc-aux-cerfs.[33]
  • Moriwaki Gonkuro and Mashida Toyonoshin
    • On being challenged to a duel in 1667 by a man whose advances he had rejected, sixteen year old Toyonoshin appeals to his thirty one year old lover, with whom he has been in relationship for three years, for assistance. The two end up fighting and defeating the interloper and his henchmen, then prepare for seppuku to atone for having killed the lord's men, only to be forgiven by the lord for their valor.[34]
  • Asano Naganori and Tanaka Sadajirō
    • Asano Naganori , like other daimyōs, loved many handsome boys very much. And the cause of the Forty-seven Ronin incident was a trouble associated with shudō. When Kira Yoshinaka wanted Asano's beautiful youth Hibiya Ukon, Asano rejected flatly. Indignant Kira, accordingly began to bother Asano one after another.[35]
  • Kira Yoshinaka(吉良上野介義央) and Shimizu Ichigaku (1678 - 1703)
  • Aiyama Kōnosuke (1686-?) and Ōishi Chikara (大石主税良金,1688 - 1703).
    • Ōishi Chikara, son of Ōishi Yoshio and youngest member of Forty-seven Ronin, suggested by his father to go and play with prostitute in 1702, without hesitation rushed to brothel in Kyōto and bought a male-prostitute named Aiyama Kōnosuke. Chikara and Kōnosuke did swear eternal love. In 1703 as soon as Chikara killed himself by seppuku, Kōnosuke became a buddhist monk and prayed for the repose of Chikara's soul.
  • Matsuo Bashō and Tsuboi Tokoku(a.k.a. Mangikumaru (circa 1657~1690)

Meiji period

  • Saigō Takamori and Murata Shinpachi
    • Murata, who lived from 1836 to 1877, was reputed to be very beautiful in his youth.
  • Ōkubo Toshimichi and Murata Shinpachi
    • Both Saigō and Ōkubo fell in love and competed with each other for the boy's hand. Hence these two heroes became rivals and conflicted throughout their lives.

See also


  1. ^ However, it is recorded that Emperor Tenji and Fujiwara no Kamatari were in this relation in Oyamada Tomokiyo, " Nanshoku-kō ", 『男色考』
  2. ^ "古事談" ("Kojidan")
  3. ^ "台記" or "The Diary of Fujiwara no Yorinaga , "続古事談", "Zoku-Kojidan"
  4. ^ The origins and role of same-sex relations in human societies By James Neill; p274
  5. ^ "台記" or "The Diary of Fujiwara no Yorinaga"
  6. ^ "台記" or "The Diary of Fujiwara no Yorinaga"
  7. ^ "吾妻鏡","Azuma Kagami)"
  8. ^ "本朝浜千鳥", Honcho Hamachidori
  9. ^ ("塩尻", Shiojiri, "太平記", Taiheiki, "麓の色", Fumoto no iro
  10. ^ "The Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu became infatuated with the beauty of the young actor Seami, then a boy of twelve. 'The Shogun's relations with this boy seem from the first to have been very intimate . . . a boy favorite.' (Waley)" The mythology of transgression By Jamake Highwater; p205
  11. ^ The origins and role of same-sex relations in human societies By James Neill; p288
  12. ^ The origins and role of same-sex relations in human societies By James Neill; p282
  13. ^ The origins and role of same-sex relations in human societies By James Neill; p282
  14. ^ The origins and role of same-sex relations in human societies By James Neill; p282
  15. ^ "応仁前記"",Onin zenki"
  16. ^ 新井白石 Arai Hakuseki " 藩翰譜" "Hankan-fu"
  17. ^ "大内義隆軍記","Ōuchi Yoshitaka Gunki"
  18. ^ "陰徳太平記","Intoku-Taiheiki"
  19. ^ Leupp, pp.53-54
  20. ^ "Shōnen-ai no Renga Haikai shi" 1997, ISBN 4-8060-4623-x
  21. ^ 新井白石 Arai Hakuseki " 藩翰譜" "Hankan-fu" ,太田錦城 Ota Kinjo " 梧窓漫筆" ,"Goso-manpitsu"
  22. ^ The origins and role of same-sex relations in human societies By James Neill; p279
  23. ^ "亜相公御夜話" or "Night-stories of Maeda Toshiie"
  24. ^ Tsuneo Watanabe & Junichi Iwata – The Love of the Samurai: A Thousand Years of Japanese Homosexuality, p. 23
  25. ^ "戦国美少年四天王"
  26. ^ a b 太田錦城 Ota Kinjo " 梧窓漫筆" ,"Goso-manpitsu"
  27. ^ 『片倉代々記』,"Katakura Daidaiki"
  28. ^ Louis Crompton, p.439
  29. ^ Crompton, p.439
  30. ^ "寛明記事" ("Kanmei-kiji") or "The Chronicle from kan'ei to meireki"
  31. ^ "Date Masamune's letters", Tokyo: Sinchosensho,1995, ISBN 4106004798 ISBN 978-4106004797
  32. ^ "葉隠","Hagakure"
  33. ^ "三王外記""Sanno gaiki"or "The secret history of the three rulers", 御当代記" or "The history of Tokugawa Tsunayoshi",etc.
  34. ^ Rictor Norton, Ed. My Dear Boy: Gay Love Letters through the Centuries; pp.71-72
  35. ^ "Seichu bukan","誠忠武鑑","Chugi Bukegirimonogatari","忠義武家義理物語","Chugi Taiheiki-taizen","忠義太平記大全",etc.


  • Ihara Saikaku (Paul Gordon Schalow, trans.). The Great Mirror of Male Love. Stanford University Press, 1990. ISBN 978-0804718950
  • Leupp, Gary. Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan. University of California Press, 1997. ISBN 978-0520209008
  • Pflugfelder, Gregory. Cartographies of Desire: Male-Male Sexuality in Japanese Discourse, 1600-1950. University of California Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0520251656
  • Watanabe, Tsuneo et Jun'ichi Iwata, La voie des éphèbes: histoire et histoires des homosexualités au Japon. Paris, 1987. ISBN 2865090248
  • Watanabe, Tsuneo and Jun'ichi Iwata. The Love of the Samurai: A Thousand Years of Japanese Homosexuality. GMP, London, 1989. ISBN 0-85449-115-5
  • Miller, Stephen D. (edited), Partings at Dawn : An Anthology of Japanese Gay Literature. 1996. ISBN 0-940567-18-0
  • Hanafusa Shiro, Nanshoku-ko, 1928.
  • Inagaki Taruho, Inagaki Taruho Taizen 2, 1969.
  • Domoto Masaki, Nanshoku Engeki-shi, 1970.
  • Domoto Masaki, Nanshoku Engeki-shi, (New rev.), 1976.
  • Iwata, Jun'ichi, Honcho Nanshoku-ko, 1974.
  • Iwata, Jun'ichi, Nanshoku bunkenshoshi, 1973.
  • Minakata Kumagusu, Minakata Kumagusu Zenshu 9, 1973.
  • Hasegawa Kozo and Tsukikawa Kazuo (eds.), Minakata Kumagusu nanshoku dangi, 1991. ISBN 4896946138
  • Iwata, Jun'ichi, Honcho Nanshoku-ko & Nanshoku bunkenshoshi, 2002. ISBN 4562034890
  • Sunaga Asahiko, Bishōnen Nihonshi, 2002. ISBN 4336043981
  • Sunaga Asahiko et al.(eds.), Shomotsu no Okoku 8; Bishōnen, 1997. ISBN 4336040087
  • Sunaga Asahiko et al.(eds.), Shomotsu no Okoku 9; Ryoseiguyu, 1998. ISBN 4336040095
  • Sunaga Asahiko et al.(eds.), Shomotsu no Okoku 10; Doseiai, 1999. ISBN 4336040109
  • Hanasaki kazuo, Edo no Kagemajaya, 1980, 1991.
  • Hanasaki kazuo, Edo no Kagemajaya, (New rev.), 2002. ISBN 4895222853
  • Hanasaki kazuo, Edo no Kagemajaya, (New rev.), 2006. ISBN 4895224708
  • Ujiie Mikito, Bushido to Eros 1995. ISBN 406149239x
  • Ujiie Mikito, Edo no Seidan, 2003. ISBN 4062683857
  • Hiratsuka Yoshinobu, Nihon ni okeru Nanshoku no Kenkyu, 1983.
  • Shibayama Hajime, Edo Nanshoku-ko, 3 vol. 1992-1993. ISBN 4826501501, ISBN 4826501528, ISBN 482650151x
  • Saneyoshi Tatsuo, Honcho Bishōnen-roku, 1993. ISBN 4875199155
  • Kakinuma Eiko, Kurihara Chiyo et al. (eds.), Tanbi-Shosetsu, Gay-Bungaku Book Guide, 1993. ISBN 4893673238
  • Shunroan Shujin (Watanabe Shin'ichiro), Edo no Shikido; Nanshoku-hen, 1996. ISBN 4916067177
  • Watanabe Shin'ichiro, Edo no Keibo-jutsu, 2005. ISBN 4106035472
  • Koishikawa Zenji (edited), Nanshoku no minzokugaku, ISBN 4826503830
  • Koishikawa Zenji (edited), Gei no minzokugaku, ISBN 4826504357
  • Timon Screech, Takayama Hiroshi(translat.), Shunga, 1998. ISBN 4062581280

External links

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