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Timing City Life in Edo Japan - Morishita

Morishita Toru (Yamaguchi University) Timing City Life in Edo Japan 日本近世における都市の暮らしと時間

Morishita Toru (Yamaguchi University)


Timing City Life in Edo Japan

When positioning the early modern era as the point of departure from premodern society,  when considering the question of Time, just what its characteristic form can have been prior to modernisation is something which catches one’s attention. How did time regulate people’s lives in a society that was yet to be swept up by Westernization, and what did time awareness mean to them? In considering these issues, we must turn our attention to castle towns, which sprang up all over the country at the time and are characteristic of early modern Japan, and still form the archetype for provincial cities in present-day Japan. Inhabited by the ruling warrior class that had left the farming villages, castle towns developed an administrative system based on written documents.  The rapid growth of cities also went hand in hand with a fast expansion of the commercial market. This urbanisation taking place all over the country can be said to have brought about a ‘rationalisation’ of early modern Japanese society. We  can hypothesize that  in this process the time awareness of the Japanese, which had until then been in unity with nature, saw certain changes. Historical materials which provide direct evidence of time consciousness are difficult to ascertain. I will therefore focus my analysis on domain regulations and instances of deviation from them, which permit us to catch a glimpse of the standards set concerning time, as well as people’s  time awareness in Edo Japan.