RSVP Required at http://ceas.stanford.edu
David Howell Professor of Japanese History, Harvard University
Who wouldn't want to be a samurai? Many people in Tokugawa Japan (1603-1868) indeed coveted samurai status, but there were also good reasons not to be a warrior. This talk will introduce some of them, and along the way it will also address the surprisingly difficult problem of pinning down the definition of “samurai”: who was a “real” samurai, and who was a pretender? Thinking about the nature of the samurai will help to explain how the Tokugawa status order maintained its integrity over time.