The conventional view that women in premodern Japan were uniformly subordinated within patriarchal households does not stand up to close scrutiny of the historical sources. The latter have to be understood very broadly: using poetry, pictorial representations and the histories of important family enterprises alongside such documents as trade directories and temple registers, it is possible to identify women operating at every level of commercial activity. These findings contradict the normative facade of the Confucian and Buddhist teachings of the time. The relations between men and women in the early years of the great merchant houses subvert simplistic categories of public and private, and suggest new ways of examining gender difference in this and subsequent periods.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Gender Studies