Musui's Story

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Musui’s Story: A Transition From Isolation to Interaction The varying social interactions between status groups in Katsu Kokichi’s autobiography, Musui’s Story, convey a shift from the hierarchically strict Heian/Kamakura epochs to the more socially open late Tokugawa period. Throughout the work, Katsu illustrates his various dealings and communications with peasants, merchants, artisans and fellow samurai. While in theory a social hierarchy still presided, Musui’s Story dismisses the notion that social groups remained isolated from each other, as in previous Japanese eras, and instead reveals that people of Japan in the late-Tokugawa-era mingled with one another during their lives, regardless of their social status. Considering the…show more content…
Katsu begins to dabble in selling swords, as well as learning how to do shadow lotteries, deeds clearly at odds with samurai ideals, yet they represent the stark reality of Katsu’s monetary situation (Katsu 74, 84). Katsu evolves into a unique figure because, while he does not always follow samurai ideals, he does realize the weight his status holds, and he does not shy away from using it to acquire privileges that he would not receive otherwise. Because of his social standing and his benevolent nature, even Katsu’s friends come to his aid with money, as they create a savings association and place Katsu as the head without even having to put in an initial payment (Katsu 95). Another example would include an incident near the end of the autobiography, where Katsu goes out of his way to bail out his landlord by tricking the villagers that he would use his samurai status to shame them in the eyes of the Osaka magistrate (Katsu 129-142). Essentially, Katsu gains a mastery of using his samurai ideals to help his maligned reality, and through it he can call in favors, rely on his friends for monetary support, and use his status to awe members of society. While ongoing change became the status quo in late-Tokugawa era Japan the ideals of the samurai—and the respect they receive—endured. And, because samurai could still fall back on the prestige their class represented, members of society still
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