I don't sake, I don't suck, and you don't fight! They find a Japanese code of conduct from the 17th century

I don't sake, I don't suck, and you don't fight! They find a Japanese code of conduct from the 17th century


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These and other prohibitions were applied to the Hasokawa clan vassals during the rebuilding of Sunpu Castle in the early Edo period.

Researchers from Kumamoto University (Japan) discovered a document from the early Edo period (1603-1867) in which the code of conduct to which the vassals of the Hosokawa clan were subject in charge of the reconstruction of Sunpu Castle, located in present-day Shizuoka prefecture, in the center of the country.

The document, issued by the head of the Hosokawa clan, Tadaoki Hosokawa, on January 8, 1608, details a total of13 strict guidelines for conduct applicable to his vassals during the journey from Kokura (now Northern Kyushu) to Sunpu Castle, as well as during reconstruction work.

This code, as explained by the university in a statement, strictly prohibits workers from being involved in fights with members of the same clan or other clans. Those who participated in acts of this nature, as well as those who supported them, were severely punished, usually with death.

Likewise, throughout the text it is possible to find other types of prohibitions, among which the practice of sumo, living with members of another clan and the consumption of sake (traditional alcoholic beverage) stand out.

But nevertheless, vassals were allowed to drink up to three small glasses ('sakazuki') of other alcoholic beverages.

"This discovery provides us with a great deal of information about the policy regarding the mobilization of feudal lords by the shogunate to build castles," said Tsuguharu Inaba, who discovered the document and was part of the research team that deciphered it.

This is the third known code of conduct related to the Sunupu castle reconstruction process.

The first of them was written by Mori Terumoto, feudal lord of the Choshu clan, and the second is a copy of this issued by Maeda toshinaga, feudal lord of the Kaga clan.

The similarities between the documents make researchers think that a general framework of the code of conduct was proclaimed by the central government, the shogunate.

The original text was released by the university library on November 4 during a virtual exhibition of rare and valuable materials from its collection.


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