Katsu Kokichi’S Autobiography, “Musui’S Story,” Documents

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Katsu Kokichi’s autobiography, “Musui’s Story,” documents the life of a samurai in Japan’s late Tokugawa period who adopted the name Musui in his retirement. Katsu is something of a black sheep within his family, being largely uneducated and deemed unfit for the bureaucratic office 's samurai of his standing were expected to hold. As such, he typifies in many ways the lower ronin, or masterless samurai, many of whom famously led roaming, directionless lives and wreaked havoc among the urban poor and merchant classes. The novel addresses the decaying power of samurai throughout the Tokugawa period and depicts their struggle to find purpose. Throughout the story, Katsu is impacted by three interconnected systems of power that impact his life…show more content…
However, the challenges of this economic power come through forms of temptations that plagued Japanese men at the time. These include drinking, smoking, gambling, and prostitution. For instance, during his youth, Katsu was “[tricked] into going with [Karoku] to the pleasure quarters in the Yoshiwara. [He] enjoyed himself immensely and after that went every night. [He] used up all his money” (Musui 44). In this section, Katsu exhibits a lack of self-control over his money. His behavior is representative of many low-level samurai throughout Tokugawa Japan. These irresponsible economic decisions combine with pre-existing financial disparity to place samurai largely in debt. Similarly, these districts were often seen as an escape for samurai and members of the lower class. Just before Katsu has fled home for the second time, he says “To take my mind off my woes, I went to the Yoshiwara” (Musui 60). Many samurai were disheartened by the fact they were indebted to merchants and had no true purpose in life. As an escape, they fled to districts like the Yoshiwara. Ultimately, economic power is created by a flourishing economy and is challenged by the temptations of man.
Domestic power comes from family lineage and is used to determine social status/class. The Japanese class system prohibits individuals from moving between classes to maintain the power of the Daimyo and Shogun. Moreover, domestic power resides in the level of respect granted to
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