Bereavement and Consolation Testimonies from Tokugawa Japan Harold Bolitho
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- Publication date:
- 24 Oct 2003
- 240 pages: 210 x 140 x 19mm
Death came early and often to the people of Tokugawa Japan, as it did to the rest of the pre-modern world. Yet the Japanese reaction to death struck foreign observers and later scholars as particularly subdued. In this study, Harold Bolitho translates and analyses some extraordinary accounts written by three Japanese men of the late 18th and early 19th centuries about the death of a loved one - testimonies that challenge the impression that the Japanese accepted their bereavements with nonchalance. The three accounts were written by a young Buddhist priest mourning the death of his child; by the poet Issa, who recorded his father's final illness; and by a scholar and teacher who described his wife's losing struggle with diabetes. Placing their journals in the context of contemporary religious beliefs, customs and literary traditions, Bolitho offers insights into a previously hidden world of Japanese grief.
Harold Bolitho is professor of Japanese history in the department of East Asian Languages and Civilization at Harvard University.