Japanese Courting Essay, Research Paper
As a young, upstart nobleman in the Heian Court keenly aware of the importance in your future career of the right connections to noblewoman from the right families, I would seek to foster favorable opinions of myself among noblewomen in the Court. There are many ways that would contribute to noblewoman from the Heian Court having favorable opinions of me. I would be very respectful and courteous of the noblewoman, as well as the ladies-in-waiting. I would go out of my way to make them feel special as suggested by Sei Shonagon in The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. “If one refers to the maid?as ‘Madam’, or ‘that lady’, she will be surprised, delighted, and lavish in her praise. ” (p48, Morris)
In order to seek favorable opinions from the noblewomen of the Court, I would also have an affair with one of them, or one of the ladies-in-waiting. This is because they will talk about our affair amongst themselves, and possibly to Her Majesty, who may then mention me to the Emperor. It is important to treat these women, if only through brief affairs, with courtesy and adoration. They are impressed by poetry and extra kindness and manners as described in The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. “A good lover will behave as elegantly at dawn as at any other time?.gives a deep sigh, (when he is woken by the lady) as if to say that the night ha not been nearly long enough?.he does not instantly pull on his trousers. Instead he comes close to the lady and whispers whatever was left unsaid during the night?he still lingers?.he tells her?.he dreads the coming day which will keep them apart. ”
It is also important to send a letter to the lady following the night. A young bachelor?.having spent the night in some amorous encounter?starts to write his next-morning letter?.what a charming figure! (p257, Morris)
The ladies-in-waiting and the noblewomen aren’t the only way to get to the Emperor. I would also talk to his current staff and request that they mention me to the Emperor for his next appointments. “However snowy and icy it may be?candidates still come to the palace with their official requests. Those who are still young and merry seem full of confidence. For the candidates who are old and white-haired things do not go so smoothly. Such men have to apply for help from people with influence at the Court; some of them even visit ladies-in-waiting in their quarters and go to great lengths in pointing out their merits. If a woman happens to be present, they are greatly amused. As soon as the candidates have left, they mimic and deride them-something that the old men cannot possibly suspect as they scurry from one part of the Palace to another, begging everyone, ‘Please present my petition favourably to the Emperor’ and ‘Pray inform Her Majesty about me.’ It is not so bad if they finally succeed, but it is really rather pathetic when all their efforts prove in vain.” (p23-24, Morris)
Once I have gone to these great lengths to have myself mentioned favorably to the Emperor I would wait anxiously until the Emperor’s officers announced the new appointments. “Presently they hear shouts of fore-runners and realize that the high dignitaries are leaving the Palace?Everyone was counting on his receiving a new appointment, and is desolated by this failure?They walk restlessly about the house, counting on their fingers the provincial appointments that will become available in the following year.” (p43, Morris) If I had not received an appointment, like what had happened in this instance, I would wait again until the next year’s appointments were near and try to have my name favorably mentioned to the Emperor.
Morris, Ivan, The Pilow Book of Sei Shonagon (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991) Pages as cited.