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The Castle Town and Japan's Modern Urbanization*

  • John Whitney Hall

Japan's role in Far Eastern history has been unique in many respects. Traditionally an integral part of the Chinese zone of civilization, Japan has nonetheless demonstrated a marked ability to remain independent of continental influence. In recent years Japan's remarkable record of adjustment to the conditions imposed upon her by the spread of Western civilization to the Orient has raised the provocative question of why Japan, of all Far Eastern societies, should be the first to climb into the ranks of the modern industrial powers. Is it possible, as one scholar has suggested, that Japan “has been the country which has diverged the most consistently and markedly from Far Eastern norms, and these points of difference have been by and large, points of basic resemblance to the West”?

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1 Reischauer, Edwin O., The United States and Japan (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1950), 184.

2 Mumford, Lewis, The Culture of Cities (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1938), 3.

3 For an interpretation of the historical Chinese city see Murphey, Rhoads, “The City as a Center of Change: Western Europe and China,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 44.4 (12 1954), 349362.

4 On regional factors influencing the distribution and types of Japanese cities see Hall, R. B., “The Cities of Japan: Notes on Distribution and Inherited Forms,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 24.4 (12 1934), 175200.

5 In applying the term feudalism to the institutions of Kamakura, Ashikaga, and Tokugawa Japan I follow Asakawa, K., “Some Aspects of Japanese Feudal Institutions,” TASJ, 46.1 (1918), 76102.

6 Several recent studies have been made of the transformation of the classical cities of Nara and Kyoto into medieval towns. See Fukutarō, Nagashimaa, “Toshi jichi no genkai —Nara no baai” (The limits of urban self-government—the example of Nara), Shakai keizaishigaku, 17.3 (1951), 2751; Hiroshi, Matsuyamab, “Hōken toshi seiritsu ni tsuki no kōsatsu” (On the establishment of feudal towns), Rekishigaku kenkyū, 180 (02 1955), 1222; Nobuichi, Murayamac, “Nikon toshi seikatsu no genryū” (The source of urban life in Japan) (Tokyo: Seki Shoin, 1953) 69f.

7 For some general studies of the medieval Japanese town in addition to Murayama, see Motoo, Endōd, Nihon chusei toshi ron (Medieval cities of Japan) (Tokyo: Hakuyōsha, 1940); Tomohiko, Haradae, Chūsei ni okeru toshi no kenkyū (A study of cities in the middle ages) (Tokyo: Dai Nihon Yūbenkai Kōdansha, 1942); Takeshi, ToyodafToshi oyobi za no hattatsu” (The growth of cities and guilds), Shin Nihonshi kōza, 4 (1948).

8 Yasuzō, Horie states in his “The Life Structure of the Japanese People in Its Historical Aspects,” Kyoto University Economic Review, 21.1 (04 1951), 2021, “… in the case of Japan the feudal system was a manifestation of the traditional family-like structure of life…. Thereby it prevented the healthy maturing of urban society and caused the development of urban society to be deformed.”

9 This is brought out clearly in Tomohiko, Harada, “Chūsei toshi no jichi teki kyodo soshiki ni tsuite.” (On the self-governing communal organization of the medieval town), Rekishigaku kenkyū, 156 (03 1952), 113. See also Harada, , Chūsei ni okeru toshi, 253255; Nagashima, , 4751; Murayama, , 124132.

10 Many of these developments have been summarized by Brown, Delmer, Money Economy in Medieval Japan (New Haven: Far Eastern Monographic Series, No. 1, 1951).

11 Note the descriptions of Sakai in 1561–1562 by the Jesuit Vilela. Quoted in Murdoch, James and Yamagata, Isoh, A History of Japan (London: Kegan Paul, 1925), 2:147.

12 Yosoburo, Takekoshi, The Economic Aspects of the History of the Civilization of Japan (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1930), 1:362.

13 Harada, Chūsei ni okeru toshi, 259–264.

14 Naojirō, Nishidag, Nihon bunkashi josetsu (An introduction to the cultural history of Japan) (Tokyo: Kaizōsha, 1932), 480.

15 The story of the fall of Sakai is told by Takekoshi, , 1:363364. For a penetrating analysis of some of the weaknesses of the Sakai merchants see Yoshio, Sakatah, Chōnin, (Merchants) (Tokyo: Kōbundō, 1939), 156158. A detailed study of the fall of Nara under Hideyoshi's feudal control is contained in Fukutarō, Nagashima, “Toyotomi Hideyoshi no toshi seisaku ippan,” (An example of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's policy towards towns), Shigaku zasshi, 59.4 (08 1950), 5864.

16 The standard exposition of this thesis is found in Kichiji, Nakamurai, Nihon hōkensei saihenseishi (A history of the refeudalization of Japan) (Tokyo: Mikasa Shobo, 1939).

17 Japanese scholars have recently devoted considerable attention to the subject of the emergence of the kinsei daimyō “modern daimyo.” For an analysis of the feudal lords who preceded the daimyo see Keiji, Nagaharaj and Hiroshi, Sugiyamak, “Shugo ryōkokusei no tenkai,” (The development of the shugo domain), Shakai keizaishigaku, 17.2 (1951). On the modern daimyo themselves, the outstanding author is Itō Tasaburōl. Of his many writings see “Kinsei daimyō kenkyū josetsu” (An introduction to the study of the modern daimyo), Shigaku zasshi, 55.9 (09 1944), 146; 55.11 (Nov. 1944), 46–106. His Nihon hōkenseido shi (A history of Japanese feudalism) (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 1951), is useful as a brief survey. The establishment of the Bizen domain of central Japan is being made the theme of joint study by members of the University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies.

18 Brown, Delmer M.The Impact of Firearms on Japanese Warfare, 1543–98,” FEQ, 8 (05 1948), 236253.

19 Reischauer, Edwin O., Japan Past and Present (2nd ed., New York: Knopf, 1952), 77.

20 For some recent analytical studies of the baku-han system see particularly: Tasaburō, Itō, “Baku-han taisei” (The baku-han structure), Shin Nihonshi kōza, 11 (1947); and Rintarō, Imaim, “Baku-hansei no seiritsu” (The establishment of the baku-han system), Nihon rekishi kōza, 4 (1952), 103121.

21 Japanese interest'in the castle town is indicated by the fact that the 1954 symposium of the Jimbunchiri Gakkai of Kyoto dealt with this subject. A mimeographed bibliography prepared for this symposium entitled Jōkamachi kankei bunken mokuroku (A bibliography of materials on the castle town) has been extremely helpful in the preparation of this article. Among the general works consulted on the subject the following have been found most useful: Hitoshi, Onon, Kinsei jōkamachi no kenkyū (A study of the modern castle town) (Tokyo: Shibundō, 1928); Terutsugu, Onoo [Hitoshi], “Kinsei toshi no hattatsu” (The growth of the modern town), Iwanami kōza, Nihon rekishi, 11.4 (1934); Tomohiko, Harada, “Toshi no hattatsu” (The growth of cities) in Tsuchiya Takaop, Hōken shakai no kōzō bunseki (An analysis of the structure of feudal society) (Tokyo: Keisō Shobō, 1950), 95124; Takeshi, Toyoda, Nihon no hōken toshi (Feudal cities of Japan) (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1952).

22 Many of the so-called “new castles” were built on sites previously occupied by minor fortifications of one kind or another. But the fortresses built after 1575 were seldom dependent upon these earlier structures. In terms of size and conception they were literally new creations. The most familiar example is Edo which was converted from a small fortified outpost into the greatest fortress in Japan from 1590 to 1606.

23 This list includes the major castles built or rebuilt in new style between these years. The order is chronological according to the dates on which construction was begun. Data is taken from Noboru, Ōruiq and Masa, Tobar, Nihon jōkakushi (History of | Japanese castles) (Tokyo: Yūzankaku, 1936), 528533; and Toyoda, , Nihon no hoken toshi, 8990.

24 Toshiki, Imais, Toshi hattatsushi kenkyū (Studies in the history of urban development) (Tokyo: Tōkyō Daigaku Shuppambu, 1951), 206. In establishing the castle town of Sendai in 1591, the Date daimyo abandoned a former site at Yonezawa which was too far removed from the center of domain communication and too circumscribed in space. Yonezawa had a population of about 6,000. Sendai attained a population of over 60,000 within a generation after the erection of the new castle. Iinkai, Sendai Shishi Hensant, Sendai no rekishi (The history of Sendai) (Sendai: Sendai Shiyakusho, 1949), 2328.

25 Mitsutoshi, Takayanagiu, “Genna ikkoku ichijō rei” (The Genna law restricting one castle to a province), Shigaku zasshi, 33.11 (1922), 863888.

26 Shiyakusho, Okayamav, Okayama shishi (History of Okayama) (Okayama: Gōdō Shimbunsha, 1937), 3:2042.

27 For detailed descriptions of these and other Japanese castles see Ōrui and Toba; and Shigeharu, Furukawaw, Nihon jōkakukō (A study of Japanese castles) (Tokyo: Kojinsha, 1936).

28 The Sendai domain maintained a system of alternate residence between castle town and fief for the major fief-holding vassals. Iinkai, Sendai Shishi Hensan, 2829.

29 On the morphology of jōkamachi the following specialized studies have been found most useful: Akira, Obatax, “Kyū jōkamachi keikan” (A view of former castle towns), Chiri ronsō, 7 (1935), 3176; and Masanori, Nagoy, “Okazaki jōkamachi no rekishichiri teki kenkyū” (A study of the castle town of Okazaki from the point of view of historical geography), Rekishigaku kenkyū, 8.7 (07, 1938), 71103.

30 Harada, , Toshi no hattatsu, 107; Naotarō, Sekiyamaz, Kinsei Nihon jinkō no kenkyū (A study of Japanese demography for the early modern period) (Tokyo: Ryūginsha, 1948), 235; Toyoda, , Nihon no hōken toshi, 147154.

31 Toyoda, , Nihon no hōken toshi, 148154; Iinkai, Sendai Shishi Hensan, 156157; Madoka, Kanaiaa, “Hitotsu no han no sōjinkō” (On the total population of one han [Okayama]), Nippon rekishi, 67.12 (12 1953), 3839.

32 Asakawa, K., The Documents of Iriki (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1929), 46.

33 On the shogunal bureaucracy see Hall, John W., Tanuma Okitsugu, Forerunner of Modern Japan (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1955), 2133. On the administration of the Bizen (Okayama) domain see Shiyakusho, Okayama, 3:21352312.

34 Takeshi, Toyoda, “Shokuhō seiken no seiritsu” (The establishment of the political power of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi), Shisō, 310 (1950), 237247.

35 Matsuyama, , 20.

36 Kazuhiko, Yamoriab, “Jōkamachi no jinkō kōsei” (On the demographic structure of a castle town), Shirin, 37.2 (04 1954), 180181.

37 Hitoshi, Ono, 232280.

38 Yamori, , 181; Toyoda, , Nihon no hōken toshi, 188204; Iinkai, Sendai Shishi Hensan, 3538; Nagao, , 75.

39 Hall, John W.The Tokugawa Bakufu and the Merchant Class,” Occasional Papers, Center For Japanese Studies, 1 (1951), 2633.

40 Iinkai, Sendai Shishi Hensan, 25.

41 A classical statement of this concept is found in Kumazawa Banzan's Daigaku wakumon: “The lord of a province is appointed by Heaven to be the father and mother of that province.” Quoted in Fisher, Galen M., “Kumazawa Banzan, His Life and Ideals,” TASJ, 2nd Ser., 14 (1938), 267.

42 Maps of the Tokugawa period record between 148 and 164 active castles. Hall, R. B., 184. Orui and Toba list 186 castles at the end of the Tokugawa period (pp. 694–705).

43 Sekiyama, , 100106; Toyoda, , Nihon no hoken toshi, 146152.

44 With the promulgation of the new law of local administration in 1888, 39 legal cities (shi) were created. Of these 33 were former jōkamachi.

45 Sekiyama, , 232233. In the above calculations the cities of Kyoto and Fushimi have been listed as administrative towns.

46 For a study of local administration based on materials in the archives of the former Bizen (Okayama) daimyo see Hall, John W., “Tokugawa Local Government and Its Contributions to the Modern Japanese State,” Paper read at the annual meeting of the Far Eastern Association, 1953.

47 Even in 19th century Europe few cities other than national capitals rose to over 100,000 population. The evenness of Japan's urban growth was thus remarkable. Toshiki, Imai, 208.

48 Madoka, Kanai‘Dokai kōshūki’ ni okeru baku-han taisei no ichi hyōgen” (A view of the baku-han system as seen in the “Dokai kōshūki”), Shinano, 3.6 (06 1951), 3747.

49 Griffis, William Elliot, The Mikado's Empire (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1906), 2:526, rejoicing at the changes which followed the abolition of the Fukui han wrote: “The local officials of Fukui are to be reduced from five hundred to seventy. The incubus of yakuninerie is being thrown off. Japan's greatest curse for ages has been an excess of officials and lazy rice-eaters who do not work.”

50 Matsuyo, Takizawa, The Penetration of Money Economy in Japan and Its Effects Upon Social and Political Institutions (New York: Columbia University Press, 1927).

51 Hall, J. W., “The Tokugawa Bakufu,” 2832.

52 Hitoshi, Ono, 281298, describes the growing competition which rural towns presented to the central castle towns towards the end of the Tokugawa period.

53 For a recent and novel approach to this subject see Ichirō, Ishidaac, “Kinsei bunka no tenkai” (The development of early modern culture), Shin Nihonshi taikei, Vol. 4: Kinsei shakai (Tokyo: Asakura Shoten, 1952), 308415, esp. 410–415.

54 Griffis (p. 430) describes his first impression of Fukui in 1871 as follows: “I was amazed at the utter poverty of the people, the contemptible houses, and the tumbledown look of the city…”

55 I do not ignore the fact that in some han the bushi still retained their Iandholdings or that in the late Tokugawa and early Meiji periods a considerable number of bushi were “returned” to the land.

56 Chōsakai, Tōkyō Shiseiad, Nihon toshi nenkan (Japan municipal yearbook) (Tokyo, 1952); Orui, and Toba, , 694705.

57 Gōhei, Itōae, “Toahi no tatechi narabini hattatsu to chiri teki seiyakusei” (On the geographic conditions which influenced the founding and development of cities), Toshi mondai, 32.3 (03 1941), 116.

58 Nihon toshi nenkan; Orui, and Toba, , 694705.

* Material contained in the article is in part the result of research supported by the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies of the University of Michigan.

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