• Part of
    Ubiquity Network logo

    Read Chapter
  • No readable formats available
  • The Language and Contours of Familial Obligation in Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-Century Japan

    David Spafford

    Chapter from the book: Berry M. & Yonemoto M. 2019. What Is a Family?: Answers from Early Modern Japan.


    Late medieval warrior houses were multi-layered organizations comprising both blood relatives and biologically unrelated affiliates (housemen). Over time, a house had to contend not only with the inexorable attenuation of blood-ties between descendants of the core "family," but also with the constant threat of non-relatives' defection to to other houses. In practice houses prospered as long as their members were persuaded that affiliation offered the best chance of survival and prosperity. Straining against the instability of houses' contractual membership, lords and elders drew on Confucian ideals of conduct to cast the mutual obligations of members as moral imperatives, conflating the theoretically distinct roles of sons (relatives) and vassals (housemen): both must serve loyally; both must consider the house as their family.

    Chapter Metrics:

    How to cite this chapter
    Spafford, D. 2019. The Language and Contours of Familial Obligation in Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-Century Japan. In: Berry M. & Yonemoto M (eds.), What Is a Family?. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.77.b

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

    Peer Review Information

    This book has been peer reviewed. See our Peer Review Policies for more information.

    Additional Information

    Published on Sept. 17, 2019


    comments powered by Disqus