By Michiko Y. Aoki, Margaret B. Dardess

Textual content followed at college of Kansas; college of Missouri, Columbia.

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After the collapse of the Ashikaga regime in the 1400s, Japan deteriorated into pervasive civil war, and the Shimazu, like many daimyo, expended great effort suppressing obstreperous vassals. Unlike many daimyo, however, the Shimazu emerged victorious, and they consolidated and expanded their territories. The Shimazu fought against Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the 1580s and lost their territorial gains in northern Kyuµshuµ. They also opposed the founder of Japan’s third shogunate,Tokugawa Ieyasu. The Tokugawa won.

In Saigoµ’s day none of this was unusual, but by the late 1800s Japanese writers were “ P O W E R F U L LY S E N T I M E N T A L” • 33 alarmed by the homoerotic overtones of gojuµ culture. Ballads extolling male beauty, and the close ties between nise and chigo, were suddenly seen as markers of a culture of homosexuality. ” In 1899 a major newspaper attributed homosexual conduct in the Japanese navy to the nefarious influence of Yamamoto Gonnohyoµe, then naval minister. 52 Was gojuµµ culture gay?

His father, Kichibei, was formally a full samurai (shi or joµkashi), and the family should, in theory, have lived off of his stipend. But in practice the Saigoµ family lived more like goµshi: self-sufficient rural warriors. Goµshi were descendants of the bottom of the military class and were relegated to the countryside, where they governed and controlled the peasantry. As urban samurai, the Saigoµ were legally superior to the goµshi. The gap between urban, true samurai and goµshi was so great that if a samurai felt that a goµshi had impugned his honor, he was legally entitled to strike him dead.

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