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Otokodate

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  • Japanese: 男伊達 (otoko date)

Otokodate were a type of street toughs prominent in Edo literature, theatre, and everyday culture in the early Edo period. They were closely related to the machiyakko (町奴), and engaged in a variety of violent and bullying activities to assert and maintain their power within a neighborhood. Famous otokodate include Banzuiin Chôbei and Sukeroku.

By the early 18th century, however, the otokodate were largely suppressed, living on only in literature and theatre. On the streets, they were replaced by the isami (勇), a figure who performed machismo and toughness, speaking of his various exploits (e.g. street brawls he won), physical strength, and so forth, but without actually engaging in (much) violent behavior.

Female street toughs, known as onna date, were also a common type.

References

  • Tom Gaubatz, "A Barbershop on Every Corner: Urban Space and Identity Performance in the Fiction of Shikitei Sanba," guest lecture, UC Santa Barbara, 7 Jan 2016.
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