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Unhappiness in Retirement: "Isho" of Suzuki Bokushi (1770-1842), a Rural Elite Commoner

Moriyama, T. (2010) Unhappiness in Retirement: "Isho" of Suzuki Bokushi (1770-1842), a Rural Elite Commoner. Early Modern Japan: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 18 . pp. 26-40.

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Standard images of early modern life in Japan suggest that individuals in Tokugawa society were subordinated to the group, especially the ie (house, household). However, as suggested in works such as those by Herman Ooms, Anne Walthall and Edward E. Pratt, individual relationships within groups were far more complex and sticky than such stereotypes indicate. The dominant image stems partly from the nature of the documentation left for historians to explore, a record that, unlike European writing of the same era, typically leaves out personal reflections and detail. There are, however, rare documents that show us just how complex relationships could be between individuals and the groups to which they belonged. The final testament (“Isho”) of Suzuki Bokushi (1770-1842) (see Figure 1) shows us this dynamic in a particularly compelling way.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Publisher: Ohio State University
Copyright: The Author
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