Tameshi-Giri (and Suemono-Giri) As a Sub-Cultural Custom and Social Structure in Feudal Era Japan: A Socio-Cultural Analysis of Transformation of Its Symbolic Meanings and Functions.

Alexander S Takeuchi

Abstract


“Tameshi-giri” (or “suemono-giri”), in which corpses were used as mediums to test the quality of swords or the skill of swordsmen, was an unusual cultural practice of the samurai (i.e., warrior) class in feudal era Japan.  Although tameshi-giri as a modern martial art jargon referring to “a method of training in the use of a sword by cutting conventional mediums” has already been imported to the Western world, the original socio-cultural meanings it symbolized as a sub-cultural custom and its societal functions as a social structure of pre-modern Japan are rarely discussed in the context of social science.  Given this, the purpose of this paper is to offer a social-historical analysis of the old tameshi-giri custom as a social structure by focusing on the transformation of its manifest and latent functions.  In doing so, it also aims to clarify some of the misconceptions and confusions associated with it.


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Asian Social Science   ISSN 1911-2017 (Print)   ISSN 1911-2025 (Online)

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