Chocho Monogatari Part III

So, let’s talk about what’s up with her face. Why is she so determined to hide it all the time?

Well, Heian women basically always lived behind a wall or a folding screen, hidden from the eyes of men. There is a whole culture built solely around attempts by men to catch a glimpse of a lady’s kimono, hair or face. The men hid behind fences and patiently waited for a moment when she deemed herself all alone and looked out onto the terrace so they could see her face.There is even a word for that behavior, kaimamiru (垣間見る) which means exactly that, to look through a fence (onto a woman).

Even brothers and sister often were not raised together. It’s entirely possible for a man not to meet his own sister until they were both adults. Since they were not raised as siblings this led to some confusion more than once, when the young man discovered a sexual desire that was entirely unsuited for his sister.

Our little lady here has probably not met many men in her life and most certainly no strangers with rough, wild faces instead of the white doughy moon faces of the Heian nobility. It’s no wonder she’s so shocked. Will she keep hiding her face for the rest of the story? Of course not, we will be able to see her face soon enough, don’t worry.

Chocho Monogatari, Part Three

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