The Tradition of Incest

Welcome back to my blog. Today, returning to issues encountered by the Japanese family unit, I will be examining the topic of incest. But before I begin proper, as shouldn’t be surprising by now, a music video for your enjoyment. The song today is Filth in the Beauty by the GazettE, and it is a critique on father-daughter incest. I have included the translated lyrics as well. Please enjoy:

the GazettE – Filth In the Beauty

Filth in the beauty

The reverse side of beauty
It dyed by beloved filth.

The firefly which sinks into the sea of glamour
Denial is a lie more than desire
I dye my body temperature with contradictions
My senses are worn out from the caresses
My youth that is melting into dancing is suddenly
filthily …
My mind which falls

Your seed and my seed never mixes.
The connection of this blood is eternal.
You cannot finish suppressing the desire.
To true daughter … [Sexual disgrace]

The pulsing “hunger” stops my breathing
Without understanding I want the crimson Lotus

Closet mind is distorted instability.
please release me before breaking.
How long…
In humiliation
The countless fatal scar was born.

[Sexual disgrace]

Prohibited bud…
Reckless driving cucumber…
The kin’ collapses…
Near relatives on death…
The smell of a cigarette smell breath&shit
Moment that bitter white jam is mixed
Inside of a brain caused an error
and goes mad by the sweet bug [loop]

The tip of a tongue and hands crawl over my neck
I dye my desired facial expression in crimson

Closet mind is distorted instability.
please release me before breaking.
So long…
In humiliation
The final art is your dead face

Dad which fell to the trap


I hope you found the song meaningful. Incest is no doubt an issue all over the world, however in Japan it seems that some forms of incest have become somewhat of a “tradition”, which through the years has become something which seems perfectly normal in the eyes successive generations who have experienced first hand this phenomena. Incest links back to my group’s research topic nicely, as it is another possible root cause of problems in the Japanese family, or perhaps one resulting from a root problem.

After having read an article on incest, it seems that Japan has had a long history of incestuous practices in court marriages. A study done in the mid 20th century found that incest was a normal and even lauded practice in some traditional rural families in Japan, often with a father marrying his daughter upon the death of the mother. It seems that the incestuous traditions dating back to the feudal era still hold sway amongst some of the rural population, despite disapproval from the community at large.

Even in the past two decades, it has been noted that incestuous practices in the home are still very much alive. A Tokyo counselling hotline received hundreds of calls relating to incest, and found that in addition to the more widely known father-daughter incest cases, there is a surprisingly large proportion of mother-son incest cases, higher than in other countries. This has been attributed to Japanese mothers sleeping alone with their sons while their husbands are out having extramarital affairs, and leading to sexual intercourse between mother and son.

Indeed, often the rationale for mothers to have sex with their teenage sons are varied, one being that they want to teach them the correct way to masturbate, as well as other reasons such as helping them to concentrate on their studies or discouraging them from having sex with teenage girls by offering their own bodies. By doing so, young Japanese grow up believing such behaviour to be the norm and hence are more likely to perpetuate the “tradition” with their own children.

What lies behind this high incidence and acceptance of incestuous family relationships in Japan? It seems that history and traditions have left their mark in this aspect. Sibling incest was accepted in ancient Japan, as well as offering up of young boys and girls to temples to be sexually used by priests as well as samurai. In this way, incest ceased to be a morally wrong act. Bathing with parents and sleeping in the same bed as parents is a normal practice even today, and easily leads on to sexual intercourse with parents or between siblings.

However, if incest is traditionally normal in Japan, why the moral backlash towards incest in the present day? One could speculate that exposure to western cultural practices and beliefs during the Meiji era as well as the postwar American occupation have imbued a sense of outrage against incest in modern Japanese people. Of course, exceptions always exist, and therefore we still see many incidences of incest in Japan, fuelled by the echoes of the past in eternity.

Relating to our roleplay family, perhaps behind the scenes, the salaryman father could have been engaging in incest with his daughter against her will, being the “filth” in the “beauty”, and hence turning her into a social rebel as she sought to break free from her “oppression”. Likewise, the mother could have been having sex with her son, further facilitating his slide into withdrawal and reclusion as a rejection of the flawed society.

Therefore, we can see that incest is another complex problem in Japanese families, with the origins of it reaching back into history and tradition.

Lloyd DeMause. The Universality of Incest. The Journal of Psychohistory, Fall 1991, Vol. 19, No. 2.

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