Women in Feudal Japan Sources

Women in feudal Japan
© History Skills

Source 1

"It is the duty of a girl living in her parents’ house to be faithful toward her father and mother. But after marriage, her duty is to honour her father‑in‑law and mother‑in‑law, to honour them beyond her father and mother, to love and reverence them with all her strength… Even if your father‑in‑law and mother‑in‑law are hateful and vile to you, do not be angry with them or don’t complain… 


A woman … must look to her husband as her master and must serve him with all worship and reverence, not despising or thinking lightly of him. The Way of the woman is to obey her man. In her dealings with her husband, both the expression of her countenance and the style of her address should be courteous and humble... When the husband issues his instructions, the wife must never disobey them. When in doubt, she should inquire of her husband and obediently follow his commands. If her husband ever asks her a question, she should answer to the point; to answer carelessly would be a mark of rudeness. If her husband becomes angry at any time, she must obey him with fear and trembling and not oppose him in anger and forwardness. A woman should look on her husband as if he were Heaven itself and never weary of thinking how she may yield to him and, therefore, escape heavenly punishment. 


A woman must always be on the alert and keep a strict watch over her own actions. In the morning she must rise early and at night go to sleep late. Instead of sleeping in the middle of the day, she must be focus on the duties of her household; she must not grow tired of weaving, sewing, and spinning. She must not drink too much tea and wine, nor must she feed her eyes and ears on theatrical shows, tunes and songs… 


The five worst problems that afflict women are argumentativeness, discontentedness, gossip, jealousy, and silliness. Without any doubt, these five things are found in seven or eight of every ten women, and it is they that cause women to be inferior to men. A woman should fix them with self‑reflection and discipline. The worst of them all and the cause of the other four is silliness… Such is the stupidity of her character that it is incumbent on her, in every detail, to distrust herself and obey her husband."



Kaibara Ekken. (c. AD 1729). The Great Learning for Women


Context Statement:

A Confucian scholar explains how women should act in feudal Japanese society.


Copyright: Public Domain