China and Japan share in the tradition where homosexuality was present until a relatively late period until they came into contact with the Western world. Just a note, this post refers to homosexual men for the most part as in many cases, lesbianism didn’t have the same “cultural importance” in that time as homosexuality in men. So… sorry? But there is a rather famous instance of lesbianism which will be addressed a bit later in the post.
For China, that would be the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) and for Japan it would be between the Edo period (1603-1868) and the Meiji period (1868-1912). In some cases, people will list Western culture as encroaching into Japan as early as the Muromachi period (1337-1573) which is famous for the Warring States era of Japan.
Homosexuality in China used to be a fairly regular thing. In terms of its tradition, it was more or less like the cases seen in Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and Japan (Ancient and Feudal; basically until Western influences entered Japan).
The terminology remains somewhat the same whether it’s talking about homosexuality in Greece or China or Japan; usually being related to pederasty. Pederasty is basically, older wiser man meets younger more beautiful man. Pederasty existed typically in cultures where there is a hierarchical institution so for China, it was often the court and nobility but for Japan, it became more common in the theater troupes or the military.
This post is going to be fairly long.