Journal - Volume 3, June 2012

Editorial Note

The Courting of Kume no Zenji: The Allurement of Waka under the Tenji Court

Masahiro MURATA
waka, Man’yōshū, Kume no Zenji, sōmon, Tenji era

Explanatory Note

This paper presents an analysis of the “Five poems exchanged in the courting of Ishikawa no Iratsume by Kume no Zenji” (poems 96-100, compiled under the reign of Emperor Tenji) found in the sōmon (poems of courting or dialogic exchange) of the Man’yōshū, Book 2. This representative set of sōmon is centered around the two pillars of the “bow” and the concept of “nochi no kokoro” (opposite of shoshin; the state of enlightenment achieved through accumulated training) and limns their relationship from the man’s initial overture, through their romantic acrobatics, and eventuating in wedlock. Within the context of these two pivot words, of particular notice is the name given to the male courter: Kume no Zenji. While it is impossible to know anything concrete about him, as he makes no other appearances in the literature, it is possible to extrapolate based on his putative name: “Kume,” according to mythology, is the family name of a brave warrior who is said to have accompanied the descent to earth of Amaterasu’s grandson; and “zenji” is the title of a priest that has achieved enlightenment through the teachings of the Buddha. It is this paper’s contention that this set of five poems, hinging on the pivot words of the “bow” and “,” is intimately connected to the dual nature of the name of “Kume no Zenji.” A product of the Tenji era (661-671), an emergent stage within the hundred-some years of the Man’yōshū’s compilation, these poems deserve particular attention within the study of early poetry in the archipelago as they reveal an advanced level of waka production and enjoyment from very early on.

The present article was first published in Bungakushi Kenkyu (Studies of Literary History) No.26, Society of Japanese and Japanese Literature, Osaka City University, 1985. The original title is Kume no Zenji no tsumadoi: Tenji-cho fūryu no omokage (The Courting of Kume no Zenji: Remnants of the Literature of the Tenji Court). For the convenience of English readers, the translated article was fully reviewed, and necessary information about proper names, historical events, and Japanese titles was added.

Nobunaga’s Kanō Free-Market Decrees: A Reconsideration

Hiroshi NIKI
free-market decree, medieval Japan, early modern Japan, Oda Nobunaga, geospatial analytical methodology

Explanatory Note

Medieval Japan (late 12th through late 16th century) witnessed the development of diverse urban morphologies including political cities (which functioned as bases for consolidating and projecting central and regional political authority), religious cities (which developed around religious facilities such as temples and shrines), port towns, transit hubs, and market towns. The number and scale of cities reached their apex between the late 15th and mid-16th centuries along with improvements in productivity and a thriving economy. A particular development among these features of the medieval period that warrants attention is the evolution of religious cities that were centered on temples and therefore entitled to tax exemptions and privileged to carry out free trade. These privileges were collectively referred to as “raku,” and cities that were defined by this feature were referred to as “rakuichi,” or “free markets.”

Whereas medieval Japan in general was a society in which daimyo (feudal lords) ruled their respective lands, by the Sengoku period (1467-1573), daimyo began to consolidate such lands on a regional scale. Daimyo built castle towns around their castles that served as their bases of power from which they aimed to strengthen their economic and commercial dominance. They sought to attract commerce by designating the markets constructed within their castle towns as free markets and issued ordinances called free-market ordinances, whose origins date back to the abovementioned privileges given at religious cities.

Based on the attributes of religious cities in the medieval period, this paper will resolve lingering issues concerning the nature of the free-market decree of 1567 that was promulgated in the city of Kanō in the province of Mino (present-day Kanda district of Gifu City) by Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582), who forged the foundations for the unification of Japan after a century of warfare, during the period when he was expanding his territory.

In his observations of the free-market decree of 1567, Kojima Michihiro notes that the Kanō Market had been merely a part of the Gifu castle town under the control of Nobunaga, and that Nobunaga turned the Kanō Market into a free market by granting it new privileges. Kojima emphasizes the leadership and authority of the daimyo in facilitating the development of castle towns, and his interpretations have been widely accepted among scholars of the Sengoku period. This paper challenges Kojima’s assertions based on those of Katsuma Shizuo, who argues that the Kanō Market was inherently a free market prior to the 1567 decree, and that it developed as such under its administration by Jōsenbō (also called Entokuji) Temple of the True Pure Land sect since the medieval period.

In other words, Nobunaga’s free-market decree of 1567 was nothing more than a confirmation of already existing conditions. The purpose of this paper is not to seek the underlining reasons for the development of Sengoku period castle towns in the new urban morphologies facilitated by daimyo, but rather, to emphasize the development of medieval religious cities as a key precondition that laid the foundations for such development. This paper effectively questions whether urban prosperity in the early modern period (17th-19th centuries) should be seen as a result of the establishment of new cities, or whether it was part of the continuous development of cities from the medieval period.

By resolving issues concerning the nature of the regional market, this paper seeks to alter the image of Sengoku period castle towns and posit a new image concerning the trajectory of castle town development from the medieval period to the modern period.

Furthermore, this paper can be expected to contribute to development of research relying on the active utilization of historical materials that have not been used thus far in research. Recent research concerning urban studies of medieval Japan has relied not only on historical documents, but also taken advantage of and benefited from visual sources, cartographic sources, and archaeological discoveries that can be framed within a rich variety of scholarly methods to reconstruct urban spaces. Likewise, this paper will also take advantage of visual and geospatial analytical methodologies, in addition to textual analysis of 16th and 17th century documents, to reconstruct Kanō and its historical surroundings in the late 16th century and clarify the nature of the city. That said, readers are encouraged to use this paper as a point of reference concerning the latest methodologies in the historical study of urban Japan.

This paper was published in the academic journal Nihonshi kenkyū, published by the Japan Historical Society, a Kyoto-based society that boasts 3,000 members and is host to the world’s largest academic conference for scholars specializing in Japanese history. The Japan Historical Society also publishes a monthly journal. All submissions are rigorously peer reviewed, and the essays that are published in the journal have been recognized as exhibiting the highest quality of scholarship within the field of Japanese historical research. URL of the Japan Historical Society:

From the Traditional City to the Modern City: Based on Studies of Urban Regional Societies in 19th Century Osaka

Ashita SAGA
traditional city, foreigner settlement, brothel, mint bureau, urban lower-class society

Explanatory Note

This manuscript, From the Traditional City to the Modern City, is based on a report made by the author at the “Nicchūu Ryōgoku no Dentō Toshi to Shimin Seikatsu ‘Traditional Cities of Japan and China, and the Lives of their Urban Residents’” Symposium co-hosted by Shanghai Normal University’s Chūgoku Kindai Shakai Kenkyū Center (Research Center for Modern Chinese Society) and the Graduate School of Literature and Human Sciences at Osaka City University. The symposium was held at Shanghai Normal University on September 25th, 2010. The report has been partly modified for publication in this journal.

In recent years, it has become customary in research on Japanese urban history to call the city that existed in the hierarchical society before the arrival of capitalization, the “Traditional City.” This was a concept put forth by such people as Nobuyuki Yoshida and Tsuyoshi Ito (refer to Dentō Toshi [The Traditional City] vol. 1-4 by Nobuyuki Yoshida and Tsuyoshi Ito, University of Tokyo Press, 2010). According to this, the modern city was born in the North American Continent in the latter half of the 19th century, and was an urban typology that spread throughout the world along with the capitalist world system based on mass production and consumption. On the other hand, as this modern city spread throughout the world, the cities that had until then been developing a unique society and culture came to rapidly dissolve. In other words, modernization was a process in which unique traditional cities, fostered by traditional societies, changed into uniform and standardized modern cities; it is thus an important issue for modern urban history research to analyze how historic characteristics and social contradictions can be seen in this process.

The author has taken the abovementioned issue raised by Yoshida and others and has developed this along research on Osaka in the shift from early modern to modern times. In it, the author has striven not to lump the megalopolis of Osaka into a single monotonous and nopperabō (a no-face ghost) society, but to focus on the regional communities and diverse social groups that formed inside and outside it and to clarify the interior structure and mutual relationships that formed within it. The manuscript, From the Traditional City to the Modern City, takes three to four such example communities that experienced a characteristic change in the process of modernization and were located at the peripheries of urban Osaka in the early Meiji period; it elucidates the social relationships in detail and explains the characteristics of their transformation. It is an ambitious piece that attempts to not only analyze the foreign settlements and brothels, governmental factories, and slums from the perspective of a social history analysis on urban spaces, but to also raise questions in various fields of history: the problems of prostitution, factory society, and urban lower-class society.

Lastly, refer to the author’s work entitled, Kindai Ōsaka no Toshi Shakai Kōzō (The Urban Social Structure of Modern Osaka) (Nihon Keizai Hyōronsha Ltd., 2007), for more details about the historic evidence used for this manuscript.

A Comparative Analysis of Changes in the Characteristics of Urban Residents in Tokyo and Osaka, 1995-2005

Mika Kumagai
urban residents, population recovery, geodemographics, Tokyo, Osaka


This study aims to grasp the trends in the characteristics of the residents of Japan’s two major cities – Tokyo and Osaka – using the approach of geodemographics, which is expected to play a key role in future urban research. In addition, based on the relative situations of the two cities from 1995 to 2005, this paper examines how the characteristics of the residents have changed in conjunction with the population recovery in urban areas, and, from a comparative viewpoint, the direction of changes in the two cities and the disparities between them will be considered.

The findings are summarized as follows: 1) The characteristics of foreigners were not uniform, and changes took place in response to the surrounding social circumstances. 2) Child-rearing households became a new feature of urban residents, and the lopsided tendency of child-rearing generations in Osaka weakened. 3) Regarding the housing characteristics of urban residents, in 2005 the owned housing indicator appeared along with public housing. 4) White-collar occupational characteristics became more pronounced. 5) While on one hand Tokyo gave added traction to the continuously strengthening tendency towards white-collarization, no particular classification was predominant in Osaka where the proportional makeup remained mixed.

Since the latter half of the 1990s, the internal areas of the cities changed drastically, the nature of urban residents became diversified as populations recovered, and the situation has become more complicated. White-collarization rapidly advanced in Tokyo, which employed deregulation in order to rely on the principles of the real estate market. In comparison, the movements for urban renewal in Osaka have not been sufficient to change the characteristics of the residents across the city as a whole, and the disparities between the two cities have been proceeding in an ever-widening direction.