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The purposes of marriage in the medieval and Edo periods was to form alliances between families, to relieve the family of its female dependents, to perpetuate the family line, and, especially for the lower classes, to add new members to the family's workforce.The seventeenth-century treatise Onna Daigaku ("Greater Learning for Women") instructed wives honor their parents-in-law before their own parents, and to be "courteous, humble, and conciliatory" towards their husbands.Aristocrats exchanged letters and poetry for a period of months or years before arranging to meet after dark.If a man saw the same woman for a period of three nights, they were considered married, and the wife's parents held a banquet for the couple.celebrated the luxury and hedonism of the era, typically with depictions of beautiful courtesans and geisha of the pleasure districts.

Members of the household were expected to subordinate all their own interests to that of the ie, with respect for an ideal of filial piety and social hierarchy that borrowed much from Confucianism.Approximately one-in-five marriages in pre-modern Japan occurred between households that were already related.Outcast communities such as the Burakumin could not marry outside of their caste, and marriage discrimination continued even after an 1871 edict abolished the caste system, well into the twentieth century.A woman (女) married the household (家) of her husband, hence the logograms for yome Marriage was restricted to households of equal social standing (分限), which made selection a crucial, painstaking process.Although Confucian ethics encouraged people to marry outside their own group, limiting the search to a local community remained the easiest way to ensure an honorable match.

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