Michael (mukashi_banashi) wrote in little_details,

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Attitudes about women / stolen weapons in Japan

Setting: My story deals with elements of Japanese folklore, so it takes place in a purposefully undefined year (the "once upon a time" -- or "mukashi mukashi" as is more appropriate in this case -- of fairy tales), but for the purposes of this question probably during the Sengoku (Warring States) period. But just because there are folkloric elements present, doesn't mean I'm adopting the "anything goes" attitude that is common in modern fantasy. I want things to be as culturally and historically accurate as possible. The particular part of the story I'm working on now takes place in Suruga province, now Shizuoka Prefecture, in a small rice-farming village.

Searches tried: I've Googled a few phrases, but none of them turn up anything even remotely relevant, let alone helpful. I just can't think of how to effectively put this question into a Google search.

The Question(s): A girl of fifteen years is found on the village boundary, with a short sword (wakizashi) in her possession. It doesn't matter how she got it, let's just assume she stole it, because that is what the villagers assume. So they confiscate the sword and take it and the girl to the village headman.

Now, I have a couple questions about this scenario. I'm pretty sure that historically Japanese people have been against women carrying weapons. But I'd like to have more information about these opinions, perhaps some sort of philosophical reasons behind it, or just some general expounding on their views. Just to have the whole thing clarified to me. This kind of thing seems like something that would be easy to mistakenly impress one's modern viewpoints on, so I'd like as much information as possible on historical Japanese attitudes toward women concerning war and the possession of weapons.

Secondly, what consequences would this girl face when discovered with a stolen weapon? Would she be punished within the village, or would the villagers have to notify local but higher authorities? Would she be locked up? Or did Japanese villages even have a place to lock up prisoners like this? Is this situation completely without precedence? (It's okay if it is, I just want to know how to handle it in a way that comes off as believable and accurate.) Is there any way in which the girl would be allowed to stay in the village, if her crime was seen as small and she had done some small sort of sentence? This is what I'd like to do, if it's at all historically and culturally possible. I'm completely in the dark on this, so any information would be helpful.

Let me know if there's any other information I can provide. I'd especially like relevant book reccomendations, if anyone has them. Thank you very much! EDIT: Okay, cool. I think I have enough information here. Thanks, everyone! (Still taking book reccomendations, though!)
Tags: 1400-1499, 1500-1599, 1600-1699, japan: history

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