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Doris G. Bargen, Professor of Japanese Studies,
LUKE ROBERTS University of Massachusetts Amherst
Opening Remarks:
AT SANTA BARBARA Daniel Gordon, Professor of History and Associate HERTER HALL 301, 2-5 PM
Dean of Commonwealth Honors
Luke Roberts is professor of Japanese History at the University College, University of Massachusetts
of California at Santa Barbara. His research interests include early
modern Japanese social and economic history from 1500 to 1900.
Among his major publications are MERCANTILISM IN A JAPANESE
DOMAIN (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), Presenters:
PERFORMING THE GREAT PEACE: POLITICAL SPACE AND This symposium provides a forum for
OPEN SECRETS IN TOKUGAWA JAPAN (Honolulu: University of 1. Carlin A. Barton (History, University of discussing the motivations, forms of
Hawaii Press, 2012), and JAPANESE FISHERMANS COATS FROM Massachusetts Amherst):
execution, and the resolution and
AWAJI ISLAND, with Sharon Takeda (UCLA Fowler Museum, 2002). consequences of vendettas in ancient
His current project is a biography of Mori Yoshiki, an 18th-century The Vendetta and the Breakdown of the Sacrificial
samurai of the Tosa domain. He is interested in understanding the origins System in Ancient Rome Rome and medieval and premodern
of nation states and specializes in the history of the Edo period. Japan. The speakers will address the
2. Thomas D. Conlan (History and Asian Studies, socio-political, religious, legal, and
Bowdoin College):
ethical ramifications in text and image.
"Slaying for Rudeness (bureiuchi):
The Law and its Application in Tokugawa Japan" The Judicial Function of Violence in Japan (1280-
In Tokugawa era (1600-1868) Japan it was a capital offence to
be rude to a samurai and it was a samurais duty to cut down a person of 3. Stephen M. Forrest (Japanese, University of
lower status who was deliberately rude. This law, called bureiuchi Massachusetts Amherst):
(slaying for rudeness) or kirisute gomen (permission to cut someone
down) was similar to Tokugawa era vendetta law in that it was If You Want Blood: Vengeance, Virtue, and
government licensed individual violence that was supposed to help Violence in Late-Edo Pictorial Fiction
maintain the social order. Yet violence is inherently disruptive, and the
application of the bureiuchi law was complex. Samurai who used the 4. Luke Roberts (History, University of California at
law were often punished. This talk will analyze actual cases of bureiuchi Santa Barbara):
in the domain of Tosa to reveal what problems it caused and to better
understand how the legal system in Tokugawa Japan actually worked. Slaying for Rudeness (bureiuchi): The Law and its
Laws were a face of the government, but it was a world in which little of Application in Tokugawa Japan
importance should be taken merely at face value.

University of Massachusetts Amherst

The Symposium on The Vendetta

is sponsored by
Commonwealth Honors College
and Asian Languages and Literatures,
Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
Available from:
Brochure Designer: Eric Fischbach, Japanese Program he13_03223_0012/he13_03223_0012.html
Carlin A. Barton is professor of History at the University of Thomas D. Conlan is professor of History and Asian Studies at
Massachusetts Amherst. Among her publications are two monographs, Bowdoin College. He has published four monographs: IN LITTLE Stephen M. Forrest is senior lecturer of Japanese Language
AND THE MONSTER (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1993) SCROLLS OF THE MONGOL INVASIONS OF JAPAN (New York: written papers on pre-modern and modern Japanese literature and
and ROMAN HONOR: THE FIRE IN THE BONES (Berkeley: Cornell University, 2001); STATE OF WAR: THE VIOLENT ORDER language with a focus on pre-modern scripts. His current research
University of California Press, 2001). In her articles she has examined OF FOURTEENTH CENTURY JAPAN (Ann Arbor: University of focuses on classical Japanese poetry collections, Edo print culture, the
the tensions between honor and shame, sacrifice and execution. Her most Michigan Press, 2003), WEAPONS AND FIGHTING TECHNIQUES literature of travel in pre-modern Japan, the use of manuscript and
passionate interest concerns the psychological and emotional life of the OF THE SAMURAI WARRIOR (London: Amber Press, 2008) and authentic texts in language pedagogy, and the literature and culture of
Ancient Romans. She is currently researching the conflict between purity FROM SOVEREIGN TO SYMBOL: AN AGE OF RITUAL Hokkaid.
(or righteousness) and compassion in the Roman Empire. DETERMINISM IN FOURTEENTH CENTURY JAPAN (New York:
Oxford University Press, 2011). He is currently teaching courses at
Bowdoin on The Emergence of Modern Japan and The Warrior "If You Want Blood:
The Vendetta and the Breakdown of the Sacrificial System Culture of Japan. In his current research he is investigating the uchi Vengeance, Virtue, and Violence in Late-Edo Pictorial Fiction
in Ancient Rome clan, a major military power in western Japan during the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries. This paper addresses the vendetta as represented in the popular
Notions of justice in Rome of the Republic were based on an literary culture of late Edo Japan, considering specifically three works in
algebra of balanced reciprocities which reciprocities, however, a genre itself closely identified with the revenge tale as a plot structuring
always threatened to turn into cruder forms of retaliation and retribution. The Judicial Function of Violence in Japan (1284-1595) device. The genre is the gkan or multivolume tale, a form
The Roman sacrificial system was central to the drama and mechanism integrating image and text that flourished from about 1805 to 1845, and
of the ancient Roman systems of balancing, the expression of and chief A notion of transcendent rights to the land arose in thirteenth- all three of the works are written by major authors of the tradition
regulating mechanism in the Romans dynamic of justice. Once the century Japan. The Kamakura bakufu, Japans first warrior (Kyden, Bakin, and Ikku) and illustrated by leading artists (Toyokuni
vendetta was unleashed, as occurred in the long century of civil wars government, allowed its warriors to pass their lands to whomever they and Shuntei). The three texts share revenge as a major plot element (the
(civil war being the ultimate imbalance and solvent of boundaries), the saw fit. Kamakura nevertheless punished these landholders with the first two even make this clear in their title), but my interest here lies
reciprocal tides of Roman culture were drowned in a tidal wave, a partial confiscation of their lands for administrative infractions. particularly in the motives and mechanisms of the several vendettas:
whirlpool of violence. The civil wars threw all systems of compensation Kamakuras warriors came to perceive such acts as being unjust, and what socially-sanctioned virtues (and vices) do the characters manifest
into their most extreme and therefore their most invertible form and the they relied on violence to defend their rights. Initially this judicial as they pursue their bloody quests, and what types of violence do they
line between sacrifice and murder all but disappeared. The killing of violence was criticized by Kamakura as being outrageous, but the employ, or do they have deployed against them? How do the texts
oneself or ones child or a member of ones family or inner group was outbreak of civil war in the fourteenth century, which led to Kamakuras successfully present this graphic mixture of moral instruction and
the most extreme sacrificial act and so the culmination and the destruction, allowed for the violent assertion of rights to gain legitimacy. physical destruction? As works written to satisfy the demands of
inversion, indeed, the destruction of the sacrificial system (just as in later Judicial violence, as manifested by proxy punishments and feuding, government censors and yet also appeal to a sophisticated commercial
Christian thought, Gods sacrifice of his beloved son is both the ultimate came to constitute an ordering principle of Japanese state and society audience, these gkan seem to reveal some of the contradictory forces
and the final sacrifice, the sacrifice to end all sacrifices). through the latter half of the sixteenth century. latent in late Edo society and to highlight both traditional ideals and
subversive innovations.