Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Blood, Tears and Samurai Love: A Tragic Tale from Eighteenth-Century Japan

Leiden-Yale collaboration uncovers a tale of samurai same-sex love in a library manuscript.

Angelika Koch-Low
NOW XS Grant and Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities
The Shūdō tsuya monogatari manuscript, Yale Beinecke Library

This digital research project is centred on a unique early eighteenth-century Japanese manuscript acquired by Yale’s Beinecke Rare Books Library in 2017 (working title: Shudō tsuya monogatari). Set in 1714 in Northeastern Japan, the anonymous work details a samurai same-sex love affair that takes a tragic turn. As such, it provides a rare example of an early modern ‘true record-book’ (jitsuroku-bon) on the subject – that is, books of rumours illicitly circulating in manuscript form. 

The aims of the project are to (1) create an interactive scholarly digital edition of the manuscript and (2) design teaching content for educators and students in collaboration with researchers and resource specialists at Yale. The project will be hosted by Japan Past & Present (JPP), a new digital hub sponsored by the Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities that will launch in late 2022 and proposes to provide equitable access to scholarly tools and materials for researchers and educators.

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