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Was Early Modern Japan Culturally Integrated?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2008

Mary Elizabeth Berry
University of California, Berkeley


In an earlier draft of his essay, Professor Lieberman quoted, with some bemusement, a remark by Edwin O. Reischauer that has flown from the text but stuck in memory. Japan during the Tokugawa era, observed E.O.R., achieved ‘a greater degree of cultural, intellectual, and ideological conformity … than any other country in the world … before the nineteenth century.’ The claim is remarkable—no less for its tone than for its unlikelihood (were we even remotely able to test it). Still, the claim is tantalizing, and versions of it, more hesitant, continue to resonate in the survey literature.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1997

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1 Reischauer, , in Edwin O. Reischauer and Albert M. Craig, Japan: Tradition and Transformation (Sydney, 1979), p. 86.Google Scholar

2 Tenna gannen koshō-kei Edo kagami, in Hiroshi, Hashimoto (ed.), (Kaitei zōhō) Dai bukan, 3 vols (Tokyo, 1965), Vol. 1, pp. 156–82.Google Scholar

3 Smith, Thomas C. makes this tally in The Agrarian Origins of Modern Japan (Stanford, 1959), p. 89.Google ScholarThe manual is the Nōgyō zensho, by Antei, Miyazaki, in Hideo, Hirose et al. (eds), Kinsei kagaku shisō (Tokyo, 1971), Vol. 62, pp. 67165.Google Scholar

4 Edo sōganoko meisho taizen, pt 6, in Hangyō-kai, Edo Sōsho, Edo Sosho (Tokyo, 1916), vols 3–4.Google Scholar

5 For the 1659 catalog, Bunko, Shidō (ed.), (Edo jidai) Shorin shuppan shoseki mokuroku shūsei (Tokyo, 19621964), 4 vols.Google ScholarFor discussion, Shively, Donald H., ‘Popular Culture,’ in Hall, John W. (ed.), The Cambridge History of Japan (Cambridge, 1991), Vol. 4, p. 731.Google Scholar

6 Shively, 1991; Hanley, Susan B., ’Tokugawa Society: Material Culture, Standard of Living, and Life-styles,’ in Hall, (ed.), The Cambridge History of Japan (Cambridge, 1991), vol, 4, pp. 660705;Google Scholarand Rubinger, Richard, Private Academies of Tokugawa Japan (Princeton, 1982).Google Scholar

7 Akito, Mizuhar, Edogo, Tōkyōgo, hyōjungo (Tokyo, 1994).Google Scholar

8 Miller, Roy Andrew, The Japanese Language (Chicago, 1967);Google Scholarand Masachie, Nakamoto, Nihon rettō gengoshi no kenkyū (Tokyo, 1990).Google Scholar

9 The best study in English of the early rice regime is Farris, William Wayne, Population, Disease, and Land in Early Japan, 645–900 (Cambridge, MA, 1985).Google Scholar

10 Mass, Jeffrey P., Lordship and Inheritance in Medieval Japan (Stanford, 1989);Google ScholarYasusuke, Murakami, ‘Ie Society as a Pattern of Civilization,’ in The Journal of Japanese Studies 10, 2: 279363.Google Scholar

11 Goodwin, Janet, Alms and Vagabonds: Buddhist Temples and Popular Patronage in Medieval Japan (Honolulu, 1994);Google ScholarRuch, Barbara, ‘The Other Side of Culture,’ in Yamamura, Kozo (ed.), The Cambridge History of Japan (Cambridge, 1990), Vol. 3, pp. 500–43.Google Scholar

12 Studies in English of early Japanese foreign contacts are few. See Borgen, Robert, Sugawara no Michizane and the Early Heian Court (Cambridge, MA, 1986);Google Scholarand Pollack, David, The Fracture of Meaning: Japan's Synthesis of China from the 8th through the 18th Centuries (Princeton, 1986).Google Scholar

13 See, for example, Gluck, Carol, Japan's Modern Myths: Ideology in the Late Meiji Period (Princeton, 1985);Google Scholarand Fujitani, Takashi, ‘Japan's Modern National Ceremonies: A Historical Ethnography,’ Ph.D. dissertation, University of California,Berkeley, 1986.Google ScholarFor discussion of the transition, see Jansen, Marius and Rozman, Gilbert, Japan in Transition: From Tokugawa to Meiji (Princeton, 1986).Google Scholar

14 The modernization school in Tokugawa studies is best represented in English by Bellah, Robert, Tokugawa Religion (Glencoe, 1957);Google ScholarDore, Ronald, Education in Tokugawa Japan (Berkeley, 1965); and Thomas C. Smith, 1959.Google Scholar

15 Dore, , 1965.Google Scholar

16 Skocpol, Theda, States and Social Revolutions (Cambridge, 1979);Google ScholarAnderson, Perry, Lineages of the Absolutist State (London, 1974).Google Scholar

17 Lieberman, this volume.Google Scholar

18 Discussions in English of Tokugawa period publishing include Shively, 1991; Smith, Henry D. II, ‘The History of the Book in Edo and Paris,’ in McClain, James L. et al. eds), Edo and Paris: Urban Life and the State in the Early Modem Era (Ithaca, 1994);Google ScholarChibbett, David, The History of Japanese Printing and Book Illustration (Tokyo, 1977);Google ScholarMoriya, Katsuhisa, ‘Urban Networks and Information Networks,’ in Nakane, Chie and Oishi, Shinzaburo (eds), Tokugawa Japan (Tokyo, 1990), pp. 97123Google Scholarand Kornicki, Peter, ‘The Publisher's Go-Between: Kashihon'ya in the Meiji Period,’ Modern Asian Studies 14, 2: 331–44.Google Scholar

19 Shively, , 1991, pp. 726–7.Google Scholar

20 RyOichi, Iida and Motoaki, Tawara, Edo-zu no rekishi (Tokyo, 1988), 2 vols. Among the larger and more accessible holders of Tokugawa period maps are the National Diet Library, the Kobe City Museum, the Tenri Library, and the Tokugawa Institute for the History of Forestry (Tokyo).Google Scholar

21 Hall, John W., Keiji, Nagahara, and Yamamura, Kozo (eds), Japan Before Tokugawa: Political Consolidation and Economic Growth, 1500–1650 (Princeton, 1981);Google Scholarand Berry, Mary Elizabeth, The Culture of Civil War in Kyoto (Berkeley, 1994).Google Scholar

22 Yamamura, Kozo, ‘Returns on Unification: Economic Growth in Japan 1550–1650,’ in Hall, 1981, pp. 327–72;Google ScholarKeiji, Nagahara and Yamamura, Kozo, ‘Shaping the Process of Unification: Technological Progress in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Japan,’ Journal of Japanese Studies 14, 1: 77109;Google ScholarHanley, Susan B. and Yamamura, Kozo, Economic and Demographic Change in Preindustrial Japan (Princeton, 1977).Google Scholar

23 Berry, Mary Elizabeth, Hideyoshi (Cambridge, MA, 1982);Google ScholarNaohiro, Asao, ‘The Sixteenth-century Unification,’ in Hall, (ed.), The Cambridge History of Japan (Cambridge, 1991), Vol. 4, pp. 4095.Google Scholar

24 Ravin, Mark a reviews the arguments over this matter and includes a good bibliography in ‘State-Building and Political Economy in Early Modern Japan,’ Journal of Asian Studies 54, 4: 9971022.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

25 The classic statement on agrarian taxation in English remains Smith, Thomas C., ‘The Land Tax in the Tokugawa Period,’ in Hall, John W. and Jansen, Marius B. (eds), Studies in the Institutional History of Early Modern Japan (Princeton, 1968), pp. 283–99.Google ScholarCommerce is explored in Hauser, William B., Economic Institutional Change in Tokugawa Japan (Cambridge, 1974);Google Scholarand Hall, John W., Tanuma Okitsugu (Cambridge, 1955).Google ScholarAlso, see Suzuki, Tessa Morris, A History of Japanese Economic Thought (London, 1989).Google Scholar

26 I know of no extended modern study of the multiple roles of Tokugawa period samurai and the consequences of maintaining a large elite that was over-educated, under-employed, and poorly paid. For portraits of individual samurai thinkers, see Nakai, Kate Wildman, Shogunal Politics: Arai Hakuseki and the Premises of Tokugawa Rule (Cambridge, MA, 1988);Google Scholarand Lidin, Olof, Ogyu Sorai's Distinguishing the Way (Tokyo, 1970).Google Scholar

27 Yi-T'ung, Wang, Official Relations Between China and Japan, 1368–1549 (Cambridge, MA, 1953);Google ScholarShoji, Kawazoe, ‘Japan and East Asia,’ in Yamamura, (ed.), The Cambridge History of Japan (Cambridge, 1990), Vol. 3, pp. 396446.Google Scholar

28 Toby, Ronald P., State and Diplomacy in Early Modern Japan: Asia in the Development of the Tokugawa Bakufu (Stanford, 1984);Google ScholarBoxer, Charles R., The Christian Century in Japan (Berkeley, 1951);Google ScholarElisonas, Jurgis, ‘The Inseparable Trinity: Japan's Relations with China and Korea,’ in Hall, (ed.), The Cambridge History of Japan (Cambridge, 1991), Vol. 4, pp. 235300.Google Scholar

29 Toby, 1984; Innes, Robert LeRoy, ‘The Door Ajar: Japan's Foreign Trade in the Seventeenth Century,’ Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 1980.Google Scholar

30 Totman, Conrad, Early Modem Japan (Berkeley, 1993), p. 148.Google Scholar

31 Innes, , 1980; Totman, 1993, pp. 140–8.Google Scholar

32 These are the principal subjects of Innes, 1980.Google Scholar

33 The seventeenth-century military historian Yamaga Sokō reconstructs the major battles, with notes on muskets and casualties, in Buke jiki (Tokyo, 1965), pp. 7491189.Google ScholarFor coinage, Yamamura, Kozo and Kamiki, Tetsuo, ‘Silver Mines and Sung Coins,’ in Richards, J. F. (ed.), Precious Metals in the Later Medieval and Early Modem Worlds (Durham, 1983), pp. 329–62.Google ScholarFor mining and smelting, Atsushi, Kobata, Kingin bōeki-shi no kenkyū (Tokyo, 1976).Google Scholar

34 Research on such exchange is eloquently called for, and pursued by, Wigen, Karen. See ‘Mapping Early Modernity: Geographical Meditations on a Comparative Concept,’ Early Modern Japan 5, 2: 113;Google ScholarThe Making of a Japanese Periphery, 1750–1920 (Berkeley, 1995);Google ScholarThe Geographic Imagination in Early Modern Japanese History,’ Journal of Asian Studies 51, 1: 329.Google Scholar

35 Elison, George, Deus Destroyed (Cambridge, MA, 1973);Google ScholarNosco, Peter (ed.), Confucianism and Tokugawa Culture (Princeton, 1984).Google Scholar

36 Elisonas, 1991; Toby, 1984.Google Scholar

37 Wakabayashi, Bob Tadashi, Anti-Foreignism and Western Learning in Early Modern Japan (Cambridge, MA, 1986).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

38 Berry, , 1982, p. 208.Google Scholar

39 Totman, , 1993, pp. 113–14.Google Scholar

40 Boxer, , 1951, p. 448;Google ScholarElisonas, Jurgis, ‘Christianity and the Daimyo,’ in Hall, (ed.), The Cambridge History of Japan (Cambridge, 1991), Vol. 4, p. 370.Google Scholar

41 Among the clearest figures are those available for Hideyoshi's first Korean campaign. See Berry, 1982, p. 209.Google Scholar

42 Rozman, Gilbert, ‘Edo's Importance in the Changing Tokugawa Society,’ Journal of Japanese Studies 1, 1: 91112;Google ScholarUrban Networks in Ch'ing China and Tokugawa Japan (Princeton, 1974). Also, see n. 24.Google Scholar

43 Smith, Thomas C., Nakahara (Stanford, 1977); Hanley and Yamamura, 1977.Google Scholar

44 Smith, , 1959.Google Scholar

45 See, for example, the laws cited by Lu, David John, Sources of Japanese History (New York, 1974), Vol. 1, pp. 199232;Google ScholarNajita, Tetsuo, Visions of Virtue in Tokugawa Japan (Chicago, 1987), pp. 6098.Google Scholar

46 For a census of premodern maps, Toranosuke, Nishioka, Nihon shōen ezu shūsei, 2 vols (Tokyo, 19761977).Google ScholarFor further analysis, Rekishi, KokuritsuHakubutsukan, Minzoku (ed.), Shōen ezu to sono sekai (Tokyo. 1993).Google Scholar

47 Basic surveys with extensive illustrations include Matsutarō, Namba et al. (eds), Nihon no kochizu (Tokyo, 1969);Google ScholarTakejirō, Akioka (ed.), Nihon kochizu shūsei (Tokyo, 1971);Google ScholarKazutaka, Unno et al. (eds), Nihon kochizu taisei (Tokyo, 1972).Google ScholarAlso, see Cortazzi, Hugh, Isles of Gold (Tokyo, 1983);Google ScholarHarley, J. B. and Woodward, David (eds), Historyof Cartography, Vol. 2, pt 2:Google ScholarEast Asia (Chicago, 1994).Google Scholar

48 See, for example, illustration 31 in Unno, 1972. National names (including Honchō, Yamato) tend to appear on the coverings of the maps, rather than on their faces. Ezo, or Hokkaido, rarely appears in national maps before the eighteenth century. The indices list both Asian and European countries, sometimes in Chinese characters, sometimes in a phonetic syllabary.Google Scholar

49 These conventions derive from the shogunal surveys. The most important is the identification of daimyo power with an urban headquarters and a productivity figure, rather than with a bounded territory.Google Scholar

50 I rely on Wood, Denis, The Power of Maps (New York, 1992);Google Scholarand Turnbull, David, Maps are Territories: Science is an Atlas (Deakin, Australia, 1989).Google Scholar

51 ŌshikŌchi's Dōin's surveys of Edo for the shogunate were printed commercially in the 1670s, and atlas versions of the shogunal surveys of the nation were printed by the 1660s. Some official urban surveys, particularly of castle fortifications, remained sensitive and did not circulate. Protection of cartographic secrets (such as Inō Tadataka's coastal surveys) was most pronounced in the nineteenth century.Google Scholar

52 See, for example, illustrations 83 and 84 in Unno, 1972.Google Scholar

53 Akiko, Baba et al. (eds), Meisho: Hare kūkan no kōzō (Shizen to bunka 27) (Tokyo, 1990).Google Scholar

54 In the various village reports (meisai-chō, fūzoku-chō) that daimyo periodically required from villagers themselves, meisho was one of many standard categories of local description. See Kichinosuke, Shōji (ed.), Aizu fūdoki, fūzokuchō, 3 vols (Tokyo, 19791980).Google Scholar

55 The most helpful survey of the guide literature is Mankichi, Wada (Shintei zōhō) Kohan chishi kaidai (Tokyo, 1968).Google Scholar

56 Tsunezo, Shinjō, Shaji sankei no shakai keizai-shi teki kenkyū (Tokyo, 1964).Google Scholar

57 Eiji, Hirano, Fuji Asama shinkō (Tokyo, 1987); Shinjō, 1964.Google Scholar

58 Ryōi, Asai, Edo meisho-ki (Edo Sōsho Hangyō-kai, 1916), Vol. 1, pp. 35.Google Scholar

59 The most copious and regularly revised directories were versions of the Kyoto Brocade (Kyō habutae) and the Dappled Cloth of Edo (Edo ganoko). See Kyōto, ShinshūHangyō-kai, Shōsho (ed.), Shinshū Kyōto sōsho (Kyoto, 1968), Vol. 2; and Edo Sōsho Hangyō-kai, 1916, vols 3–4.Google Scholar

60 Edo sōganoko meisho taizen, literally ‘The Dappled Cloth of Edo: Encyclopedia of Famous Places,’ from Jōkyō 4, in Edo Sōsho Hangyō-kai, 1916, vols. 3–4.Google Scholar

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