Volume 10, May 2019

Table of Contents

Special Topic1

Special Topic2

Research Note

Special Topic1

Conference Panel: The Dismantling of the Status System in Nineteenth-Century Japan

Author Timothy D AMOS

Lamp Oil and the Transformation of Rural Society in Nineteenth-Century Japan

Keywords Japan, Edo period, Izumi, rural society, kinship network, working-class history, lamp oil, rapeseed, cotton


During the Edo period, oil was a vital source of lamp fuel. Rapeseed and cottonseed were the main raw materials used to produce oil. Both were important commodities, the production and sale of which supported the reproduction of peasant households. Accordingly, oil was a vital everyday commodity, supporting the lives of many early modern Japanese.

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What happened, then, when oil production and distribution began to penetrate rural Japan? How did the industry’s expansion into Japan’s hinterlands affect the social structure of rural communities? The theme of oil production and distribution was examined in the 1960s and 1970s. In much of that research, however, scholars characterized the relationships among the various sectors of the oil production and trade exclusively in terms of conflict or struggle.

As such, in my research on Izumi, a center of oil production just south of Osaka, I have worked to shed light on those aspects of the production processes and lived experiences. Specifically, I focus on Kadobayashi Sagohē(門林佐五平), a family of oil producers. The family maintains a rich archive of early modern documents(門林啓三氏所蔵文書). In this paper, working with these materials, I will discuss the small local merchants; the physical laborers; and, crucially, the supporting network of village and interfamilial bonds in which the house was embedded.

This approach also engages with the Japanese historiography in a broader sense. Yamaguchi Keiji argued that the growth of an increasingly fluid, commodity-centered economy during the early nineteenth century ate away at the status system, and prepared a “new foundation” in Japanese society that proved sturdy, yet receptive in the face of the intensifying waves of globalizing capitalism. However, Yamaguchi did not advance this argument. This paper provides a detailed picture of the everyday granularity of early modern social structures in which fine but spreading cracks appeared, whose collective inertia ultimately charted the course of historical change towards a new and vastly different world.

The Dissolution of Outcast Status and Outcast Property in Meiji Japan

Author Michael ABELE
Keywords Japan, Property, Outcastes, Beef, Abolition


This article analyzes Meiji government efforts to regulate the beef and rendering trades alongside the local response of the former kawata outcastes of Saraike Village (today Osaka Prefecture). In 1872, Sakai Prefecture, (now Osaka and Nara prefectures), issued new regulations for slaughterhouses and rendering facilities. As part of the implantation of these regulations, prefectural authorities investigated established rendering and beef production activities in former kawata communities within the prefecture. In the ninth month of Meiji 5 (1872), a prefectural official investigated the butchers and renderers of Saraike Village. When some among the former kawata community were discovered to be violating the prohibitions on mixing the meat of health cattle and already-dead animals, several villagers were arrested and all villagers prohibited from these trades until they could demonstrate compliance with new regulations. The extensive documentation this case left behind allows us to catch a glimpse into how the abolition of status-based property was navigated by rural kawata villagers. By focusing on the village level, I will show that those kawata that took over the rendering and butchering trades after the abolition of kawata status were in fact the same men who were circumventing status-based property in the Tokugawa period.

Panhandling, Subsistence, and Poverty Management in Meiji Tokyo

Author John PORTER
Keywords Urban Poverty, Begging, Hinin, Status


In the tenth month of Meiji 5 (1872), the Tokyo Prefectural Government issued an edict banning begging (kanjin kinshirei). Until then, the practice had been carefully regulated but never fully prohibited. On the contrary, from the beginning of the Tokugawa period, the city government permitted members of the hinin(beggar) status group to subsist by gathering alms in the city’s commoner neighborhoods. That arrangement enabled the authorities to guarantee the daily survival of thousands of the city’s poorest residents, while permanently shifting the financial burden for their care to urban landholders and tenants. Until the 1870s, begging was regulated via a network of neighborhood-level arrangements in which individual members of the hininfraternity established client relationships (shikiri kankei) with specific city neighborhoods. In exchange for policing unauthorized begging in their client neighborhoods, members of the hininfraternity were granted exclusive begging rights. Ownership of those rights ensured the survival of members of the hininfraternity and their dependents. Accordingly, they were treated as an asset and passed down from one generation to the next. The 1872 ban on begging, however, formally abolished those relationships and reclassified the practice as a criminal offense. No longer a legitimate livelihood in which a portion of the city’s poor were permitted to engage, begging was now officially cast as a practice that encouraged indolence and petty crime, and led one to eschew productive labor. This paper examines the ban’s historical impact and efforts to regulate begging following its promulgation.

The Struggle to Modernize Community Medicine in Late Nineteenth-Century Japan

Author Waka HIROKAWA
Keywords community medicine, modernization of medicine, modernization of doctors, Tochigi Prefecture, Shioya District


Utilizing a series of community medical records of Shioya District in Tochigi Prefecture, this paper examines the post-Restoration effort to modernize medicine on the local level and identifies both continuities and discontinuities in the daily practices of local physicians. In 1874, the Meiji government issued its first comprehensive regulations for medical practitioners, which were designed to promote the Westernization of medicine. At the same time, they undermined the position of Chinese medicine (kanpō), setting the stage for its eventual decline. Despite the implementation of official regulations, however, the effort to modernize community medicine was not immediately successful. The vast majority of the physicians who practiced in Japan before the Restoration were trained in Chinese medicine. As ‘previously practicing doctors’, the 1874 regulations permitted most to continue operating in their local communities. Under this process of gradual change, how did medical techniques develop on the local level? The medical environment in Shioya after the Restoration was maintained and modernized by the efforts and cooperation of doctors of various social backgrounds, including those who practiced kanpō as well as those trained in Western medicine. Former domain doctors played a leading role in dealing with the prevalence of acute infectious diseases and in forming the Medical Practitioners’ Association. In the middle of Meiji period, some Western-style hospitals were established in Shioya, both of which had a public character. On the other hand, a kanpō physician quietly tried to adapt his practice to the modern medical system.These are the examples which show that in the transitional period in Japan, different kinds of doctors and different levels of medical training coexisted even in one small locality. In Shioya, people handed down the legacy of medical resources from the Edo period and continuously tried to maintain a medical environment throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Discussant’s Comments

Author Maren EHLERS
Keywords Social status, outcastes, Meiji Restoration, occupation, outcaste emancipation edict

Special Topic2

The Scope of Public Education in Japan and Germany with a Focus on “School Absenteeism”

Author Kemma TSUJINO
Keywords scope of public education, compulsory schooling, cross national analysis, “School Absenteeism”, international comparison, Germany and Japan


Under the international collaboration between Japan and Germany, authors from both countries try to clarify the “scope of public education”. In the featured articles, researchers from the University of Oldenburg and Osaka City University took the first step towards international collaborative research for public education by focusing on “school absenteeism”. In this first article, the whole structure and aim of the featured articles by researchers from both countries are explained. Although the common research question among all authors of “The Scope of Public Education” is a very broad and abstract theme, by overcoming an insider’s paradigm through international collaboration it is possible to address this question.

Research and Management of School Absenteeism in Germany: Educational Perspectives

Author Heinrich RICKING & Gisela C. SCHULZE
Keywords school absenteeism, student behavior, concepts of support, participation in school


School absenteeism outlined as a technical term is all behavioral patterns of students staying away from school without acceptable permission. Many studies discovered that it cannot be understood as a homogenous phenomenon and identified different forms: the fundamental patterns are truancy (aversion based), school refusal (anxiety based) and parental condoned absences (withdrawal). One important educational target is to support a better understanding of the processes behind the behavior and consequently create better environments, which endorse participation in school especially with regards to disadvantaged students. In an interactional perspective, school absenteeism is a result of a development of imbalanced relations between child, family, school, and at a community level. Recent research shows a variety of options to support participation of students in school.

Investigation and Research of Absenteeism in the Sumiyoshi Ward Investigative Report (March 31, 2017)

Author Haruo SOEDA (Representative), Hisayoshi MORI, Nozomi SHIMADA, Junnichi OHARA, Wei Wei, Rina HIRATSUKA, Akitomo NAKADE, Yui FUJITA, Rie KOMURA, Azuki OKA, Mana KAWASAKI and Tomoyo KAWAZOE
Keywords absenteeism, non-attendance, truancy, parent, teacher, student guidance, guidance counsellor, school nurse, school social worker, ward office, welfare services, poverty, mental health, cooperation, communication, support


Absenteeism can not be solved by school effort alone especially if it is rooted in family problems such as poverty, abuse, neglect, parent’s mental health etc.. It is easy to say teachers need cooperation with those who are concerned in communities but, in reality, teachers tend to be alone in solving absenteeism. This paper has identified the obstacles and barriers which block communication and cooperation between teachers and would be supporters and has suggested possible solutions, based on case studies of junior high schools in Sumiyoshi Ward in Osaka City.

Aspects of self-exclusion in the Japanese education system

Author Sabine MEISE
Keywords Absenteeism, Japanese Education, Comparative Education, Exclusion


This article introduces aspects of self-exclusion of Japanese students during compulsory education despite the efforts of Japanese public education to build Inclusive schools. The description of different learning places for pupils inside and outside regular schools, but also activities of teachers to prevent self-exclusion, such as extra lessons in regular schools (research 2007, 2017), gives an insight into Japanese school education, which shows an ambivalence in creating Inclusive schools within a neoliberal educational policy. Selected research results of questionnaires for teachers throughout Japan in 2007, 2017 and ethnographic studies in 2014, 2017 and 2018 are used for illustration.

The article concludes that flexibility in using various places of learning to find an 居場所 (î basho- good place) for every student and the attitudes and activities of teachers (comparing 2007 and 2017) are two important forces in preventing school non-attendance. Attitudes and activities of educators, but also structural questions such as looking at suitable learning places could be considered in searching for the tertium comparationis for upcoming comparative research between Japan and Germany.

The Changing Meaning of Schools for Children: Focusing on All-day Schools in Germany

Author Ayumi FUKAWA
Keywords Roles of Schools, School System Reform, All-day School (Ganztagsschule), Supporting Children’s Growth, Outside School Culture


In the early 2000s, the traditional roles of schools were criticized in Germany because of the “PISA shock.” Since 2003, the all-day school system has been introduced in Germany. This chapter aims to analyze German education “from a Japanese perspective” and focuses on the following two points: 1) how the traditional norms of education in Germany are being questioned, and 2) how the meaning of school for children has changed through the introduction of the all-day school system.

The Scope of Public Education in Japan and Germany with a Focus on “School Absenteeism”: Conclusion

Author Kemma TSUJINO
Keywords Scope of Public Education, compulsory schooling, cross national analysis, “School Absenteeism”,international collaboration, Germany and Japan


By looking back on each article in the featured articles, a common foundation is summarized here as the final article in order to explore further international collaboration. Since the featured articles are the first step for international collaborative research, the main “outcome” here is preparing a common platform to compare internationally. Most of all, there are certain paradigms for public education each in Japan and Germany, the scope of public education is described by taking an example of “school absenteeism”. Firstly, (1) the outline of the main points of each article is summarized, then (2) implications and suggestions through all articles are clarified. And (3) the remaining challenges are compared are reflected on. Finally, (4) the necessary preconditions for further collaborative research are described in detail. Taking international comparison through the featured articles, all authors are ready to explore the further international collaboration to deepen the common research interest in the scope of public education.

Research Note

A bifurcation of rural gentrification?: An experience of Sasayama, Hyogo

Author Natsuki KAWAGUCHI
Keyword srural gentrification, renovation, (re)valuation, commons, Sasayama


Gentrification has been regarded as a very urban phenomenon unique to the inner city. It is the process of reinvestment by capital in old, deteriorated districts, resulting in changes in the landscape and the constitution of social class, as well as displacing existing low-income residents. However, gentrification is believed to occur not only in the inner city but also in rural areas. Hence, how do we understand this ‘rural’ gentrification phenomenon?

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This paper tries to provide a possible understanding of ‘rural gentrification’, by referring to characteristics of the contemporary economy. In the setting of the contemporary ‘economy of enrichment’, (re)valuation of a place is regarded as a crucial process and it can lead to two divergent outcomes; it might produce ‘commons’, while also risking the problem of gentrification. This study examines this bifurcation of ‘rural gentrification’, specifically in Sasayama.

Sasayama is a small city in Hyogo prefecture located nearly 50 km away from large cities in the Kansai such as Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe. It faces the serious problems common to rural areas, such as an ageing population, population decline and a rise in the number of vacant houses. Meanwhile, a series of renovation projects is being undertaken and measures towards community revitalisation are being conducted.

Editorial Note

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