The History Girls: ‘Algernon and Ernest’s Excellent Adventure’ by Lesley Downer

‘younger by six centuries’ pic from Rutherford Alcock The Capital of the Tykoon 1863

In October 1866 a young man called Algernon Mitford arrived in Japan. ‘I found myself in a world younger by six centuries than that which I had left behind,’ he recalled. Like the eponymous heroes of the 1989 film ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’, he had stepped into a time machine, but in his case, his experiences were real.
The extraordinary world that Mitford found himself in is …

The History Girls: Love, Sex and Romance in Old Japan – Valentine’s Day Special by Lesley Downer

Cherry blossom time in the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters. Utagawa Hiroshige. Los Angeles County Fund

Until the late nineteenth century, there was no word for ‘love’ in Japanese, no equivalent to the western concept of pure, ennobling, platonic love, the courtly love of chivalry. Love was the forbidden fruit.

The Japanese acknowledged the strength of love, its power to subvert the existing order, and…

Source: The History Girls: Love, Sex and Romance in Old Japan – Valentine’s Day Special by Lesley Downer