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Asahi Shigeaki

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  • Born: 1684
  • Died: 1718
  • Other Names: 朝日文左衛門 (Asahi Monzaemon)
  • Japanese: 朝日重章 (Asahi Shigeaki)

Asahi Shigeaki was a middle-ranking retainer to Owari domain around the Genroku period. He is particularly known for his extremely lengthy personal diary, the Ômurôchûki 鸚鵡籠中記, which he kept for 34 years.

Shigeaki held a fief worth 100 koku. His diary relates events and activities of his life from the time he was seventeen, until one year before his death, as a grandfather, at the age of 45.

Like many of his time, Shigeaki was an active gambler and patron of brothels. His diary contains valuable insights into Edo period gambling and city life otherwise, from the perspective of an individual person's actual life. This includes descriptions of where he went gambling and how the gambling was done, the fact that he often went with his mother to gambling houses, and that the proprietor of one of the gambling houses he regularly frequented was at one point arrested, paraded through the streets, and then crucified. One of Shigeaki's cousins was banished from the domain for his gambling, and in conjunction with this Shigeaki and the rest of the family were obliged to remain indoors for a time, as a form of collective punishment upon the family for the cousin's wrongdoing.

The diary is not only an account of Shigeaki's activities, or events he witnessed or heard about, but also includes many documents he copied down into his diary. For example, in conjunction with going out to see the street processions of the 1710 Ryukyuan embassy to Edo, Shigeaki copied down numerous pages of information about the members of the embassy, their travel route, the gifts they gave to and received from the shogunate and to/from the lords of Owari, and so forth, all information he presumably received from popular publications circulating in Nagoya at the time.[1]

References

  • Luke Roberts, "A Transgressive Life: the Diary of a Genroku Samurai," Early Modern Japan 5:2 (1995), 25-30.
  1. Ômurôchûki, 637-646 passim.
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