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The Castle Town and Japan's Modern Urbanization*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 March 2011

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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”?

Copyright © The Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 1955

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

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

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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.Google Scholar

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), 2751Google Scholar; Hiroshi, Matsuyamab, “Hōken toshi seiritsu ni tsuki no kōsatsu” (On the establishment of feudal towns), Rekishigaku kenkyū, 180 (02 1955), 1222Google Scholar; Nobuichi, Murayamac, “Nikon toshi seikatsu no genryū” (The source of urban life in Japan) (Tokyo: Seki Shoin, 1953) 69f.Google Scholar

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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), 2021Google Scholar, “… 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), 113Google Scholar. See also Harada, , Chūsei ni okeru toshi, 253255Google Scholar; Nagashima, , 4751Google Scholar; Murayama, , 124132.Google Scholar

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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)Google Scholar. 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), 146Google Scholar; 55.11 (Nov. 1944), 46–106. His Nihon hōkenseido shi (A history of Japanese feudalism) (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 1951)Google Scholar, 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.Google Scholar

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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)Google Scholar; and Rintarō, Imaim, “Baku-hansei no seiritsu” (The establishment of the baku-han system), Nihon rekishi kōza, 4 (1952), 103121.Google Scholar

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)Google Scholar; Terutsugu, Onoo [Hitoshi], “Kinsei toshi no hattatsu” (The growth of the modern town), Iwanami kōza, Nihon rekishi, 11.4 (1934)Google Scholar; 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), 95124Google Scholar; Takeshi, Toyoda, Nihon no hōken toshi (Feudal cities of Japan) (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1952).Google Scholar

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), 528533Google Scholar; and Toyoda, , Nihon no hoken toshi, 8990.Google Scholar

24 Toshiki, Imais, Toshi hattatsushi kenkyū (Studies in the history of urban development) (Tokyo: Tōkyō Daigaku Shuppambu, 1951), 206Google Scholar. 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.Google Scholar

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

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

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).Google Scholar

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.Google Scholar

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), 3176Google Scholar; 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.Google Scholar

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

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

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

37 Hitoshi, Ono, 232280.Google Scholar

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

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

40 Iinkai, Sendai Shishi Hensan, 25.Google Scholar

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.Google Scholar

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

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

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, , 232233Google Scholar. 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.Google Scholar

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.Google Scholar

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49 Griffis, William Elliot, The Mikado's Empire (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1906), 2:526Google Scholar, 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).Google Scholar

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

52 Hitoshi, Ono, 281298Google Scholar, 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), 308415Google Scholar, 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)Google Scholar; Orui, and Toba, , 694705.Google Scholar

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