The Tokugawa rule significantly changed the concept and build of the Japanese samurai warrior due to multiple factors, the most significant being the introduction of an era of peace. Homosexuality among samurai was also accentuated during this period; the book of short stories titled Comrades Loves of the Samurai highlights this fact and emphasizes the lack of masculinity through feminine physical and emotional descriptions. Whereas Hagakure sets out an array of quotations relating to the proper yet strict conduct of a samurai.

Under one of the most famous and peaceful reigns in Japanese history, the Tokugawa period (1600-1868), the definition of the ideal samurai man, his constructs of masculinity and his unwritten code of conduct, 'Bushido' ('the way of the warrior') was altered. Though samurai were present from the 12th century onwards, it was only the lack of warfare during the Tokugawa rule that encouraged and supported their study in literature. With the help of the Zen religion strengthening their mindset, samurai led an extremely disciplined life, as illustrated in Hagakure, a book of philosophical quotations pertaining to the proper behavior and thinking of samurai. Pride, honor and loyalty were the main concepts in a warrior's life, when one of these were incomplete, it could bring about hara-kiri (or seppuku), a suicide exclusively known to the samurai through disembowelment in a brutal manner. However, this ritual was appeased over time, the first documented amendment being recorded during the Tokugawa reign. At this time, short stories were also emerging about homosexual samurai, an example being Comrade Loves of the Samurai, where many of the samurai were described in feminine ways; their fairness and beauty being compared to flowers. Speculation is present over the possible effect the living arrangements of the samurai and distance from their families during the Tokugawa era had on male-male love relationships. There can be seen a distinct difference in the descriptions of samurai in the two books mentioned, with Hagakure reflecting ideals from before the Tokugawa time and Comrade Loves of the Samurai illustrating views during the peaceful Tokugawa period.

There existed strictness towards samurai, requiring many obligations and a certain degree of obedience from them, not only to their master but also to their Bushido laws. Cowardice, even towards death, was seen as an enemy in life, being heavily looked down upon (Suzuki, D.T., 1959, p.65); the samurai was taught not to fear death, furthermore, to embrace it, "Bushido means the determined will to die. When you are at the parting of the ways, do not hesitate to choose the way to death," (Suzuki, D.T., 1959, p.73). Also, as Hagakure states, "meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily." When all fear has been eliminated, it is said that the samurai has mastered the art of swordsmanship, " is able to live as though his body were already dead, he gains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling," (Hagakure). Self-preservation, maintaining a name and avoiding shame were considered top priorities (Ikegami, E., 1995, p.17); and a samurai literally could not live with shame, "If you made a mistake in aiming, and you live to tell about it, you are a coward [but if] you die, you might be thought crazy, but it will not bring you shame," (Ikegami, E., 1995, p.285). Not only was a warrior to uphold honor and dignity through bravery, but it was demanded of him to commit hara-kiri, if there was a breach. Samurai carried two swords with them at all times, a long one for fighting and a shorter one in case he violated the laws bestowed upon him and hara-kiri was the only option (Suzuki, D.T., 1959, p.93). Hara-kiri entailed piercing one's abdomen on the left side with the shorter sword and dragging it across to the right side, then twisting the weapon and pulling it upwards. A second man was placed beside the samurai with the duty of decapitating him once the act was completed in order to reduce the length of suffering, this was called kaishaku. Although this custom was introduced before the Tokugawa period, it was only during the reign that it was "officially established as part of the seppuku ceremony," (Seward, J., 1968, p.61). Even though seppuku was seen as one of the most important notions of Bushido, it was also considered by Tokugawa government as unnecessary and ruthless, unless it took place in the battlefield. Furthermore, it was under the Tokugawa reign that seppuku was appeased; honor was believed to still be upheld if an executed warrior chose to "simply scratch or cut the skin lightly" and subsequently allowed kaishaku to take place directly afterward (Varley, H.P., et al., 1970, p.35). It seems that with the Tokugawa government a deeper sense of sensitivity and compassion arrived; which most probably resulted from the prolonged peace after long periods of combat.
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The Buddhist-related religion of Zen helped to shape samurai ideals, supporting and facilitating the samurai mindset; being a religion of the will, it upheld intuition over intellect, teaching to never look back and to treat life and death with indifference (Suzuki, D.T., 1959, p.61). The emphasis on looking forwards without distraction was suitable for samurai as they needed focus in order to defeat their enemies successfully without wavering. "Japanese genius went either to priesthood or to soldiery. The spiritual co-operation of the two professions could not help but contribute to the creation of...Bushido," (Suzuki, D.T., 1959, p.69). It ...

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