Stories from the Nanshoku Okagami
--by Ihara Saikaku (1641-1693)
Adapted from the 1928 translation by Edward Powys Mathers

It is my honor and pleasure to present here three selected tales from the Nanshoku Okagami, "Great Mirror of Male Love", written by Ihara Saikaku and first published in 1687. If you had never heard of this Edo Period Japanese classic before it was referenced in Samurai Champloo (I certainly hadn't), you have no idea what remarkable stuff this is. Please don't expect some sort of gay porn: nothing could be further from the truth. These are fierce, elegant, violent stories of courtly love, full of drama, vengeance, sacrifice, passion, duels of honor, vows of endless devotion, and noble, beautiful boys dying noble, beautiful, heartbreaking deaths. They're just amazing. When you read them (and I hope you do), imagine young Isaac--growing up in a country where the punishment for a man caught with a male lover was to watch your partner being executed before dying yourself--and think how he must have felt to realize that a life like the one depicted here existed. No wonder he thought Japan was paradise.

...Stories from the Nanshoku Okagami 1: "All Comrade Lovers Die by Seppuku"
...Stories from the Nanshoku Okagami 2: "He Died to Save His Lover"
...Stories from the Nanshoku Okagami 3: "The Tragic Love of Two Enemies".