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ETHNONYMS: Eta, Hinin (historic, derogatory); Hisabetsumin; Outcaste; Shin-Heimin (historic, often derogatory); Tokushu Burakumin (often derogatory)


Identification. It is important to note that neither historic outcastes nor Burakumin are racially distinguishable from the majority of Japanese, despite some common beliefs and academic writings that propose non-Japanese racial origins for Burakumin. Although in the historic period the mainstream Japanese subjected outcastes to strict dress codes and often required them to wear pieces of leather on their outer garments to signify their status, in contemporary Japan there is little to isolate the Burakumin from the majority population. Except for their reported informality of dress code, language, and behavior, Burakumin do not differ from the Japanese majority in appearance, language, and most other cultural practices.

Burakumin exclusively or dominantly occupy many small communities or areas in a community; indeed, their culture name means "hamlet or community people." (In this article, "Burakumin" is used to designate the people, "buraku" to designate their communities.) The names "Eta" and "Hinin" were used through the Middle Ages to refer to outcastes of various sorts. Eta was derived from the Japanese word for leatherworker, a name that was later spelled differently in Chinese characters to mean "plenty of defilement," which suits the popular perception of their occupation. Hinin means "nonhuman." After the abolition of caste in 1871, these words were replaced by Shin-Heimin (new commoners), Hisabetsumin (discriminated people), Tokushu Burakumin (special community people), or Burakumin.

Since the Burakumin look and behave much like the majority population, others most commonly identify Burakumin by their place of origin. Although Burakumin may choose to "pass" as non-Burakumin to avoid various forms of discrimination, they risk having their identity scrutinized if others discover their place of birth and original residence. Local people know certain areas in a locality to be buraku, and they see any connection to such areas as signifying outcaste origin. Even when a person from a buraku moves to a different region in Japan, background investigation or accident may reveal his or her origin, and this discovery often results in stigmatization of the person's professional, social, personal, and emotional life.

Location. Burakumin communities are more heavily distributed in western Japan, particularly in the prefectures of Hyōgo, Okayama, Hiroshima, Ehime, and Fukuoka. Urban centers in western Japan, such as Kyoto and Osaka, have large numbers of buraku. In contrast, the Tokyo metropolitan area, situated in eastern Japan, has a surprisingly small number of buraku.

Demography. There are some arguments about how many buraku and Burakumin exist in Japan today. The General Affairs Agency census in 1985 reported that there were then 1,163,372 Burakumin and 4,594 buraku in Japan. Independent scholars of the Burakumin issue criticize these figures as much too small and say they do not reflect the reality of the Burakumin situation. Their estimates suggest that 2 to 3 million Burakumin and approximately 6,000 buraku currently exist in Japan.

The Burakumin are heavily concentrated in the western part of Japan. According to the above-mentioned statistics, Hyōgo has the largest number of Burakumin (153,236), followed by Osaka (143,305), Fukuoka (135,956), Nara (62,175), and Okayama (56,687). In eastern Japan, Saitama, Gumma, and Tochigi prefectures have relatively high numbers of Burakumin. There are no known Burakumin in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaidō.

Before the 1920 census no comprehensive demographic data existed; however, some regional records were available. The population survey of Kyoto in 1715 recorded 11 outcaste communities with a population of 2,064; in 1800 4,423 outcastes were reported in Osaka; the National Census of 1871 counted 261,311 Eta, 23,480 Hinin, and 79,095 other categories of outcastes. The 1920 census reported that there were 4,890 buraku and 829,675 Burakumin in Japan; by 1935, the number of buraku had increased to 5,367 and that of Burakumin to almost 1 million.

As a general tendency the Burakumin population was increasing faster than the general population of Japan in the last century. The official abolition of outcaste status and assimilation efforts seem to have had no influence over the persistence of Burakumin. Continuous recruitment of new members by marriage and high birthrates in Burakumin communities account for this tendency.

Linguistic Affiliation. The linguistic affiliation of the Burakumin is identical to that of mainstream Japanese. Some ethnographic reports indicate that their speech tends to be more informal and colloquial than that of the mainstream Japanese. In contemporary Japan, where most Burakumin children are educated in the same formal schooling system as other Japanese children, any community or occupational jargon Burakumin may have developed historically is bound to decrease or even to disappear.

History and Cultural Relations

The history of outcastes in Japan dates back to its early historic period, beginning in the eighth century a.d. (Nara period). Under the centralized bureaucratic government with imperial leadership, clan-based groups called Uji and Kabane became associated with often exclusive occupational guilds, or be. These guilds included leatherworkers, caretakers of the dead and tombs, and butchersthe traditional occupations of later outcastes.

The practitioners of these occupations gradually became separated from the majority society through the ancient to early feudal periods as unclean, undesirable, lowly, and less than human, and Japanese society denied them rights granted to its mainstream members. In addition to encompassing the traditional occupational groups, the outcaste community absorbed people who dropped out of the social systems because of poverty or criminal behavior, as well as those who failed to be an integral part of the stable society, for instance, runaway peasants, flood-plain dwellers, and itinerant entertainers of all sorts.

Toward the end of the twelfth century the failing economic system based on peasantry and heavy taxation helped cause the decline of imperial power and the rise of the military class, which marked the beginning of the feudal age. The consequent political instability and poverty affected commoners most severely, and a large number of peasants lost their financial means and social affiliation and were forced out of their homes and their assigned land. Because all peasants of the time were legally bound to their land and it was illegal for them to leave it, there was no place for them in the social system, and they became a transient population. Together with all other kinds of people who were excluded from the socioeconomic system, they joined traditional outcastes, to form the medieval outcaste population.

Historie evidence indicates that the medieval outcastes' occupation and residence varied. They engaged seasonally in work ranging from street performing, street sweeping, and leatherworking to unauthorized religious practices, changing their residence to accommodate their seasonal occupation.

This fluid population of outcastes gradually evolved into more specialized occupational groups throughout the feudal age. In the period of continuous military confrontations, from the fifteenth to the sixteenth century, warlords invited outcaste leatherworkers to their territories in order to secure the supply of military gear. The increasing demand for leather goods required a large number of outcastes in the industry and accelerated the occupational differentiation of outcastes.

In the seventeenth century the Tokugawa shogunate consolidated the systematic and legal discrimination against outcastes in Japan. After conquering warlords in most of the territory known today as Japan, the Tokugawa government set out to establish a strict administrative system that ensured social and economic stability for nearly three centuries. Incorporation of the outcaste below the rigidly divided castes of warriors, farmers, artisans, and merchants was a strategy for detracting from the dissatisfaction of lower castes: no matter how difficult their lives may have been they were still better than those of the "nonhuman" outcastes.

Eta and Hinin were two major categories of outcaste in this period. The most crucial differences between the two were the terms of their status and the areas of their occupational specialization. The Eta inherited their status and tended to engage in farming, craftwork, and community services. Hinin were usually those who had been degraded to outcaste status as a punishment and who could be reinstated to other castes; their occupations were usually unskilled or transient. Entertainers also fell into this latter category.

Although outcastes in the Tokugawa period varied in occupation and worked as leatherworkers, basket and sandal makers, temple caretakers, crematory workers, butchers, entertainers, laborers, and farmers, others commonly treated them as nonhumans and forced them into hard labor, economic difficulties, and poor living conditions. Outcastes lived in designated segregated districts or separate communities, and occupational necessity determined their access to the public areas. Government-imposed dress codes prohibited any ornaments and narrowly defined types and quality of garments allowed for outcastes.

Their services and the products of their labor belonged to the government authority, and until later in the period there was no direct compensation for their work; instead, the government allowed them the "privileges" of begging and gathering from the commoners who benefited from the outcastes' services. This practice led to the common but untrue belief that outcastes were "beggars" and not a productive part of society, and it strengthened the discriminatory perception of and behavior toward outcastes.

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a major political change occurred. The shogunate failed in economic reforms and mismanaged the inevitable contacts with foreign countries. After negotiations among political leaders, the emperor was restored in 1868 as the sole political power of Japan, supported by low-rank warrior-class technocrats. The new government's priority was to modernize and Westernize the then "backward" nation. In 1871 the government emancipated the outcastes as a part of this modernization effort.

This emancipation brought no real change in the discrimination against outcastes. Discriminatory practices against Burakumin persisted in almost every aspect of life, and the government made little effort to enforce its declaration of "equality." In the municipal house registration government officials recorded former outcastes as "Shin-Heimin" (new commoners), thus clearly distinguishing them from the traditional commoners. Segregated residence also continued, although there were no more legal restrictions. The only change that occurred was a negative one: the industries that outcastes had traditionally dominated were now open to everyone, and nonoutcaste investors began to venture into leatherwork and other crafts, threatening the small-scale former outcaste manufacturers and placing a heavy economic strain on many Burakumin. In addition, rapid political and economic changes caused financial difficulties to common people, and their frustration often found outlets in "Eta-gari" (an outcaste hunt).

Many political and cultural movements characterize the struggle of former outcastes or Burakumin throughout modern history. Reconciliation and assimilation movements represent one side of their efforts, which argues that the poverty and different life-style of Burakumin caused the persisting discrimination and that the improvement of Burakumin living standards and cultural assimilation into the mainstream society are essential to eliminate the discrimination. The other side of the scale is the more aggressive political movement that defines the Burakumin situation as a class issue and the result of victimization rooted within the mainstream society. People who support this position assert the responsibility of the larger society for positive changes in Burakumin issues. These movements, aided by the democratic constitution instituted after World War II, the Law for Special Measures for Dōwa Projects (1969), and the Law for Special Measures for Regional Improvement (1982), have succeeded in improving the Burakumin situation and reducing discrimination to a certain extent.

More than a hundred years after emancipation, however, the deep root of discrimination against Burakumin is far from dead; indeed, it is finding a new soil in the complex social problems of contemporary Japan. While subtle forms of discrimination and vague but definite prejudice against Burakumin are the most common problems, some recent incidents show that hostility between the majority population and Burakumin still exists. A group of teenagers in Yokohama beat and killed homeless people in the 1980s, and day laborers from buraku participated in an outbreak of street riots in Osaka in 1991. The Law for Special Measures for Regional Improvement expired in March 1992, and the Japanese legislature concluded that there was no more need for this antidiscrimination law and decided not to renew it. The future development of the Burakumin movement under the new legal conditions is uncertain.

The long, continuing history of outcaste/Burakumin discrimination contains certain underlying ideas that have developed and supported the structure of discrimination and segregation in Japanese society. The most well-argued aspect of this discrimination centers on religious beliefs about the protection of ritual cleanliness. Teachings of Shintoism, the native religion of Japan, place a strong emphasis on ritual cleanliness as the essential part of righteousness, which is to be strictly guarded from contamination by death and blood. The introduction of Buddhism in the sixth century, and its recognition as a state religion from the eighth century onward, added to this view of death and blood as taboo, as the imperial and shogunate governments fully embraced the Buddhist doctrine against killing in their official policies. Thus the Japanese considered occupations that dealt with death or bloodshed "unclean" and contacts with them defiling. (This view that outcastes and their descendants are "unclean" is strong even today among many Japanese.) Still, the society needed to care for the dead properly according to the religious requirements, dispose of animal carcasses, and produce leather goods; the solution to this dilemma was the segregation of people who engaged in such occupations from the general population.

Furthermore, at the heart of the outcaste existence, which has served the contradictory needs of Japanese society, is the connection between the outcastes' continuing economic importance and their lack of access to political power. For instance, Hijiri priests in ancient Japan were extremely important religious figures, as they were knowledgeable in the agricultural calendar and counseled farmers with the proper timing for seasonal activities. The Yamato clan, the politicoreligious power in the early historic period, saw them as competition and eventually made them outcastes. The Hijiri priests thereafter played the same economic role in agricultural communities but were devoid of political influence.

In the feudal age, repeated civil wars increased the demand for leather goods, and thus it was very important for feudal lords to have outcaste leatherworkers, called "Kawata" or "Eta," under their control. In the later feudal age, lords often assigned outcastes to the cultivation of marginal land, used them as virtual slaves in various enterprises to improve the local cash economy, or placed them in dangerous situations such as those of guards and low-status detectives. In spite of the crucial roles they played in the feudal society, their ascribed outsider status effectively prevented them from gaining any political power. In the later Tokugawa period some of the outcastes became quite affluent and influential. A legend from this period depicts the defensive reaction of the government: an Eta was killed in Edo (later Tokyo), and the head of the outcastes in Edo appealed to the magistrate; he ruled that an Eta was worth one-seventh of a regular person, and therefore one regular person had to murder seven Eta before he could be convicted.

In modern industrial Japan, Burakumin workers supply cheap, disposable labor to industry as part-time workers or day laborers. Burakumin also work more often than mainstream Japanese for small businesses and factories that belong to the lower stratum of the hierarchical industrial structure of modern Japan. Thus they frequently suffer from having unstable incomes and few benefits.

Some theorists also have postulated that the existence of outcastes is a reincorporating mechanism of sociocultural deviation. The outcaste population has been increasing constantly, largely because of the continuous flow of new members from mainstream society, either directed by authority or pressured by economic failure or loss of social affiliations. Japanese culture holds it as ideal to be average and to keep to one's place in society, and deviation from the norm is strongly discouraged from early childhood. This cultural emphasis has successfully incorporated most of the population most of the time, thus creating a largely homogeneous society. However, there were people throughout history who were excluded from the majority society, and students of discrimination issues have discovered the historical systematic segregation of those who failed to be normative or who lost legitimate status in society. Existence of outcastes may be the way Japanese culture coped with unwanted segments of society, keeping them usefully under control yet isolated from others.

These three factorsthe perceived need for ritual cleanliness juxtaposed with the economic need for "unclean" occupations; the desire to keep those with economic power from having political power; and the need to purge mainstream society of undesirable elementstogether have established, supported, legitimized, and, most important, depoliticized the discrimination issues. Many mainstream Japanese still accept arguments that postulate non-Japanese origins, inherent inferiority, and ritual uncleanliness of outcastes; thus, the differential treatment of Burakumin seems almost "natural" to them. There is no evidence, however, to support such hypotheses. It is rather, as summarized above, a political, economic, and ideological manipulation throughout Japanese history that has created discrimination against Burakumin.


Both historic outcastes and Burakumin have lived in segregated communities of one sort or another. In the feudal age their segregation was strictly enforced and people of outcaste status were forced to live in undesirable locations, often on the outskirts of or completely outside a mainstream community. The modern Japanese officially have abolished such segregation, but it continues to exist in the form of de facto ghettos, recognized as "Tokushu Buraku" (special community), or simply buraku. The term "Dōwa Chiku" (assimilation district) is often used in the same fashion.

The conditions in buraku are typically poor, characterized by inferior sanitation, insufficient space and privacy, old housing structures, poorly maintained streets, and a lack of public and recreational areas. Improvement of living conditions has been a great concern for Burakumin. The government has made efforts over the last several decades to improve the living environment and educational opportunities in buraku. Roughly half of Burakumin live in Dōwa Chiku, which are designated target areas for the assimilation projects. In these districts, government-funded programs are being executed to improve housing, sanitation, and public services so as to match the living standard of buraku to that of mainstream communities.

Yet the reality of the buraku is less than ideal. Economic hardship and discrimination deeply rooted in Japanese people, both mainstream and Burakumin, are probably two major reasons for the slow change and persistence of age-old issues regarding the buraku.


Outcastes traditionally specialized in leatherwork, basketry, sandal making, temple caretaking, street sweeping, butchering, street performance, tenant farming, and unauthorized religious practices. Until the end of the feudal age, outcastes dominated these occupations; at the time of their emancipation, nonoutcaste businesses began to operate in some of these trades, and often drove former outcastes out of business.

Today some Burakumin still are involved in the traditional crafts and trades, but many of them work as factory hands, day laborers, and all sorts of unskilled laborers. In general, their wage levels are low, and their economic struggle in the face of the overall affluence of the Japanese is striking. Many Burakumin work for small businesses, earn minimum wage with few work benefits, and suffer from insufficient and unstable incomes. The comparison of average annual income per household in 1984 reveals that the Burakumin household average was then approximately 60 percent of the national average. The percentage of fully employed Burakumin is significantly lower than that of the overall Japanese labor force. Lower educational achievement and occupational discrimination further hinder the economic advancement of Burakumin. As a consequence a significant number of Burakumin rely on government welfare to survive.

Industrial Arts. Outcaste leatherworkers of the feudal age made beautiful horse gear and armor, some of which still survives. Basketry and sandal making are among the most importantand rapidly forgottencraft traditions in which historic outcastes and traditional Burakumin produced essential items for the common people.


Burakumin kinship practice generally follows that of the mainstream Japanese. (See the article on Japanese for a description.)

Marriage and Family

Marriage and Domestic Life. Burakumin marriage practice and family life are similar to those of the mainstream Japanese, except for certain minor differences reported in ethnographic literature. Marriage and sexual relationships in buraku tend to be more informal and unstable. Extramarital relationships are not uncommon, and, because of the frequency of unstable marriage alliances, they are socially accepted in many cases. An unmarried household head is very common, and many households consist of a single parent and (often illegitimate) children. Economic situations and the mobility of spouses influence postmarital residence; it may take many forms that mainstream society considers irregular. Because of discrimination and long-lasting segregation, endogamy within buraku has been dominant, but the younger generations increasingly are opting for intermarrige with non-Burakumin.

Inheritance. Observers have reported that Burakumin inheritance practice is more informal than that of the mainstream Japanese, presumably because of the flexible and often unstable Burakumin family structure. Ultimogeniture, which is very rare among the mainstream Japanese, is not uncommon among Burakumin.

Socialization. Reflecting the informality of buraku life, socialization of Burakumin children is generally less strict than that of mainstream Japanese. Economic hardship and unstable family structure force many Burakumin parents to leave their children for long hours with their relatives, with neighbors, or sometimes at home without adult supervision. Some children were raised in family craft shops beside the working parents. The educational standard is generally lower among Burakumin than among mainstream Japanese. Analysts believe that economic difficulties, discrimination, and a lack of motivation and role models are the main causes of this problem.

Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization and Social Control. Although Burakumin as a whole are situated in the lowest stratum of Japanese society, there is a distinct socioeconomic differentiation within Burakumin communities. The higher level of their stratification mainly consists of better-educated, financially more secure, lower-middle-class small-business owners and administrators who now often work outside buraku. The first Burakumin leadership came from this class. A typical Burakumin of the lower level, however, would be undereducated, marginally employed, and often on a government relief program because of insufficient or unstable income. Migrant workers, day laborers, and some factory hands belong to this group.

The upper-class Burakumin are constantly at odds with the lower-class Burakumin, since they do not necessarily share the strong sense of alienation common among the lower-class Burakumin. Assimilation into mainstream Japanese society is a historically popular theme among them, and some even view lower-class Burakumin as a "burden" to their effort to eliminate discrimination through self-improvement.

The oyabun-kobun relationship is an important factor in the internal organization of buraku. Oyabun-kobun is a traditional concept of hierarchical relationship between a superior who acts as a parent figure (oyabun) and an inferior who takes the role of a child (kobun). Ordinary people and also criminal organizations (yakuza ) commonly have adopted this informal hierarchy. Buraku oyabun are very influential in the community, and they often act as job-placement agents or middlemen between Burakumin manufacturers and non-Burakumin buyers. In this relationship of mutual interests and dependency, an oyabun is expected to supply a fair share of steady jobs to kobun and to negotiate with outside buyers or employers, and a kobun is obliged to accept an oyabun's offers and to complete the assignment satisfactorily. However, since the oyabun is in a dominant position, the relationship is not symmetric and so a kobun may follow an oyabun unwillingly for fear of losing jobs or being ostracized.

Political Organization. As citizens of Japan, Burakumin today participate in the Japanese political system through voting. As a strong interest group, Burakumin regularly send their representatives to the Diet and the local legislatures.

The current situation is the achievement of a long political struggle since the 1871 emancipation. Burakumin formed their first organization, Bisaku Heimin Kai (Bisaku Common People's Association), in 1902 in Okayama Prefecture, in reaction to the harsh discrimination that continued after emancipation. A year later they founded Dai Nippon Dōhō Yūwa Kai (Greater Japan Fraternal Conciliation Society), the first nationwide organization of Burakumin. Their movement was called the Yūwa (reconciliation) movement, and their goals were to eliminate discrimination against Burakumin through self-help and through the improvement of living conditions, educational standards, and economic conditions in buraku. In 1919, Burakumin leaders gathered for the first time with government officials, representatives from the aristocracy, and scholars at Dōjō Yūwa Taikai (Sympathetic Reconciliation Convention) to discuss the discrimination issue.

In the 1920s, many Burakumin leaders became dissatisfied with the Yuwa movement, which was not seeking positive changes in awareness among the majority Japanese. It was also a time of social radicalism in Japan, and Burakumin activists started the "leveling" movement to eliminate all inequalities and discrimination through political channels. They formed the Zenkoku Suiheisha (National Levelers' Society) in 1922. Their slogan was "tetteiteki kyūdan" (thorough denunciation): when they found a discriminatory behavior or Statement, they summoned the person responsible for the incident and demanded a public apology. Although this method was successful in some cases of discrimination, both the mainstream society and the moderate sector of Burakumin movements viewed it as violent and so resisted the campaign.

At the same time, the radical branch of Suiheisha was becoming increasingly critical of the denunciation method, and it began to insist on a more radical, even anarchistic approach to the issue. By 1925 the internal differences were becoming too large to reconcile, and in 1926 radical segments formed separate organizations. The moderate group established the Nihon Suiheisha (Japan Levelers' Society) to continue the policies of the original Suiheisha movement.

Although Burakumin movements saw a brief moment of victory in 1935 and 1936 when they succeeded in sending their own representatives to the Fukuoka Prefectural Assembly and to the House of Representatives, Japan's increasing militarism and patriotism began to interfere with their political activities. In 1940 Suiheisha was dissolved and its members decided to support Yamato Hōkoku Undō (Japan Patriotic Movement), which was founded to coordinate the patriotic efforts of Burakumin.

Burakumin movements, which were virtually nonexistent during World War II, quickly revived at the end of the war with the support of the new constitution, which guaranteed freedom of expression and equal rights to all citizens. In 1947 Burakumin formed the Buraku Kaihō Zenkoku Iinkai (National Committee for Buraku Liberation). In 1955 the organization changed its name to Buraku Kaihō Dōmei (Buraku Liberation League, or BLL). However, Communist influence began to split the organization from inside, and more radical Communists separated from BLL and formed the Buraku Liberation League Normalizing Liaison Association, which aimed to redirect the Liberation League by introducing a more Marxist-oriented position.

Throughout the postwar period Burakumin organizations have been successful in a number of legal battles and in denunciation of discriminatory publications and behavior. They also have made remarkable advances in education, including the improvement of educational opportunities for Burakumin and the introduction of antidiscrimination education programs in public schools.

Conflict. Both Burakumin and the historic outcastes have been scapegoats in times of social unrest and economic difficulties. Numerous reports of riots and associated Eta-gari (outcaste hunts) after the political transition in the late nineteenth century demonstrate how violence toward Burakumin became the outlet for insecurity and frustration among commoners at the time. Burakumin did not have much protection against this aggression, but the hardship accelerated their effort to form an organized movement against discrimination. Today the Buraku Liberation League's denunciation program is a popular tool for correcting discriminatory behavior and thinking, but some scholars and Burakumin activists question its legal basis and actual effectiveness.

Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. (See also the article on Japanese for a general description.) Historically most Buddhist sects rejected outcastes, as most outcastes violated the Buddhist taboos against death and killing through their occupations. The Jōdo Shinshu or Shinshu sect, whose founding philosophy roughly translates as "restoring righteousness in evil men," and the Nichirenshu sect, which preached the salvation of common people, were the only sects that accepted outcastes, and even today they are the most common Buddhist sects to which Burakumin belong. Outcaste members were, however, subject to segregation within the religious organization, as was apparent in the Tokugawa period practices of eta-dera (temples exclusively for a outcastes) and eta-za (segregated seating for outcastes when they attended the same temples as regular people).

In the modern period Christian missionaries took special interest in the buraku's social problems, and their belief in the equality of human beings before God attracted many Burakumin to this religion.

Religious Practitioners . In addition to training institutionalized priests like those in the mainstream Japanese society, outcaste communities produced many unauthorized practitioners of Shintoism, Buddhism, and various folk religions. Hijiri priests, diviners, and ceremonial performers are the most prominent examples. They served the religious and ceremonial needs of commoners who could not afford the services of authorized priests or who sought alternatives to the institutional religions.

Arts. (See also the article on Japanese for a general description.) The traditional occupational specializations of outcastes included those of performing artists, such as actors, singers, dancers, and street entertainers. Founders of two of the most important theatrical traditions in Japan were outcastes. The dancer/actress Ōkuni performed the earliest form of Kabuki play on the floodplain in Kyoto. Kanami and Zeami, a father and son who began the Noh play in the fourteenth century, were also of outcaste origin, and at the height of their success they performed for the shogun of the time and enjoyed considerable prosperity and political influence.

Medicine. Burakumin medical practices roughly follow those of the mainstream Japanese. Historic outcastes and Burakumin may have developed their own folk medicine because of difficulty in obtaining medical services, but there is no documentation of this.

Death and Afterlife. Burakumin beliefs about death and the afterlife are similar to those of the mainstream Japanese. The rejection and hardship they have experienced may have affected their thoughts on the subject. The dominant Buddhist sect among Burakumin, Jōdo Shinshu, advocates introspective prayer and promises well-being in the next life regardless of one's status in this life.

See also Japanese; Kolisuch'ǒk


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