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Thread: Setting a story in 1760 - 1778 Japan

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    practical experience, FTW S. L. Saboviec's Avatar
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    Jan 2013

    Setting a story in 1760 - 1778 Japan

    I've written a story about a Guardian angel who goes through three charges. I would like to change the setting of one of the human beings from England to Japan. My character will be born in 1760 and die in 1778. I've done some research and will continue to do more, but I would like to get some feedback on whether this storyline will work in the new setting and under what conditions. I would like to keep as much of the background & plot as I can, but most of it can be molded to fit the culture. I've **'ed where specific plot points cannot be changed. I will change the names once I determine if this is feasible.

    Current plot, set in England:
    - Tabitha is born the fifth daughter of a poor minor lord & lady. Her mother is a harsh woman who makes it clear that Tabitha is a burden.
    - When Tabitha is 14, the family attends a wedding reception for a Baron's first-born son.
    - Tabitha sneaks out into the garden for some fresh air and **is accosted and raped** by the Baron's second-born son.
    - Tabitha hides the rape, but **she's pregnant**.
    - When her mother finds out, she decides that Tabitha has shamed the family.
    - She sends Tabitha to work as a servant at her sister's country estate. Her sister married into money, so the estate is a large enterprise with a lot of people.
    - Tabitha settles into her life as a servant and has her son Nathan. She is expected to work, but the woman who oversees the servants is kind and **finds childcare for him** when he starts walking so that Tabitha can continue her duties.
    - While having a day off, Tabitha meets a friend near the horse stables and dog kennel. She's distracted and Nathan wanders off, nearly being attacked by a vicious dog. (**Something has to put Nathan's life in danger.**)
    - Tabitha is upset and worries about him. As time goes on, she starts to feel better; however, it is short-lived. While out with the governess and other children, he's kicked in the head by a horse **and dies**.

    I'm trying to figure out what can be transported. Based on what I understand of the Edo period, I've answered the questions below. I would like confirmation on my answers and help where I'm struggling:

    Who is Tabitha's family?
    Her father is a samurai who has taken out too many loans. He's unable to pull together a dowry for his daughters. His wife is ashamed to not have produced a son.

    What religion would everyone be?
    Tabitha's family would follow the Bushido. Tabitha follows Buddhism. The family that she moves to could follow Confucious, Buddhism, or Zen teachings, but I'd probably make them Buddhist so she feels more comfortable.

    What family holds the wedding and what does Tabitha's family get out of being there?
    Her father is a samurai to a daimyo. It's expected for them to attend the wedding of the daimyo's first born son. [Edited 2/14 for clarification]

    Are there dogs and horses in this time period in Japan?
    Yes. None of that part of the story would need to be changed.

    Where would Tabitha's mother send her?
    This is where I'm stuck. Would she be sent to a merchant to work in the rice paddies? Would she be sent to work in a daimyo household? I'd rather she gets sent somewhere as analogous to the country estate in England as possible. In the current version, she has her own tiny room, which opens onto a servants' common room.

    Who takes care of Nathan while Tabitha works?
    This is also where I'm stuck. It depends on the answer to the above question. Does a daimyo employ a governess? Where do the other servants have their children taken care of?

    Tabitha considers killing herself after Nathan dies. How would she do it?
    In the current version, she thinks about drowning herself. For other reasons, I'd like to change this. Do women kill themselves with a sword in this time period? Slit their wrists? Poison themselves? (Where would she get the poison?)

    Also, any links to research on day-to-day living where my story is set would be immensely helpful. There's a lot of information on the history and social structure, but the every day details are harder to find.
    Last edited by S. L. Saboviec; 02-14-2013 at 09:56 PM.
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