Adultery, punishment, and reconciliation in Tokugawa Japan

Amy Stanley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This article explores the interaction between the Tokugawa bakufit's laws on adultery and the customary practice of resolving adultery cases through private settlement. The One Hundred Articles (1742), which sentenced adulterous commoners to death, cemented the bakufu's conception of marriage as a metaphor for government in which adultery symbolized treason. But private settlements from Musashi Province reveal that peasants had different ideas about the significance of marriage and adultery. They protected the community's investment in marriage, prioritizing reconciliation over punishment. Ultimately, a working relationship between law and customary practice reinforced the authority of husbands within the family.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-336
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Japanese Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language


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