Online ISSN : 2424-2616
Print ISSN : 0018-2478
ISSN-L : 0018-2478
Tokugawa Villages and their Finance : The Case of the Takashima han in Shinano Province
Yoko Yazawa
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1985 Volume 94 Issue 10 Pages 1549-1596,1698-


The role of the Tokugawa village, either shogunal or domanial, was two-fold : (1)it served as a self-ruling community of established villagers and (2)it was an administrative unit for the feudal lord to collect taxes and to govern the residents. Village finances, however, known as mura-nyuyo 村入用 and managed by the village officials, have so far been studied only in reference to the function of collecting various taxes imposed by the lord found in available local mura-nyuyo accounting books. The author intends to clarify the mechanism and features of Tokugawa village finances in terms of actual early 19th century conditions in loco. She conducts an examination of the Takashima han's financial ordinances known as buwari-shiho 歩割仕法 or system of controlling village expenditures, and then analyzes of the contemporary accounting books still preserved at the Shinano village of Misayamagodo 御射山神戸 in order to better understand the bookkeeping system and the recorded facts. The primary concern of the daimyo Suwa 諏訪, who enacted the said shiho four times between 1790 and 1816, was how to raise labour, articles and money necessary for his domanial administration, which included the annual tax collection itse1f. In order to meet this aim completely, the daimyo urged village officials to curtail unnecessary expenses and to eliminate false entries. He then instructed his magistrates to intensify their inspection of village accounting practices. Meanwhile, primarily in compliance with this domanial instruction, and for village purposes as well, the village officials of Misayamagodo kept from year to year abundant and complicated books on their financial affairs in addition to their census and cadastral registers and regular books on taxation proper. The annual records for village finances were divided into the two groups : omote 表 (front) and naisho 内所 (inside). The first group of accounting books was the product of all the processes of allotting, collecting and paying the domanial imposition on the village. It was composed of Books "A" and "a", in which were entered respectively details of the basic domanial assignments and receipts at the village, and of their individual allotments among the villagers ; and a duplicate of "A" was submitted to the domanial auditors for inspection. Labour and goods levied and delivered were evaluated in money before being alloted. Unequal burdens among villagers caused by advance payment in labour and kind were fairly adjusted on the basis of their land holding represented with the annual rice yield (kokudaka 石高). The second group of books was a product of the community life of the Tokugawa village, which functioned as a kind of legal person. The village itself spent labour, goods, and money in various autonomous functions to sustain the everyday life of its members. And the members shared appropriately these expenses per capita, per household, and per benefit, some by means of their labour or goods, others by means of money, thus offsetting the mutual unbalance of charges. Additional revenues were secured also from the village's tax-free fields and forests in common use, these dividends being expedient to offset a part of the said charges. This second group was composed of the Books "B" and "b", which recorded respectively items of income and expenditure occurring inside the village and their individual allotment and settlement. It is worthy of note that the naisho books covered functionally not only the accounts generated and settled within the village, but also those already entered in the official omote books, and that the lord's auditors probably had nothing to do with these "inside" books at all. The author concludes that this structure of local finance so clarified reflects the general feature of the Tokugawa village uniting the traditional self-ruling body and the feudal organization within one community.

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© 1985 The Historical Society of Japan
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