Osaka, the Merchant's Capital of Early Modern Japan

By James L. McClain; Wakita Osamu | Go to book overview

Editors' Preface

In January 1994, Wakita Osamu invited a group of scholars from Europe, Japan, and the United States to visit Osaka and share their knowledge and ideas about the history of that city.Inspired by the enthusiasm of the debates that took place, Wakita and James L. McClain decided to collaborate on a broader project to result in a collection of scholarly essays about the history of Osaka during the early modern period.A year after the initial roundtable discussions, they hosted a second meeting, in Honolulu, where the experts represented in this volume offered formal presentations of their research.To establish a focal point for that symposium, the organizers asked their fellow participants to direct their attention toward three principal concerns: to provide an overview of the dynamics that resulted in Osaka's emergence as one of Japan's leading cities during the early modern period; to expand our understanding about the distinctive nature of Osaka's urban experience, especially in contrast to Edo and Kyoto, the other conurbations making up Japan's Three Metropoles; and to explore the contributions that Osaka's residents made to political, social, and economic developments across Japan.The scholars who convened in Honolulu addressed those issues in depth, and we present their essays, revised and augmented, in this book.

From the beginning, the editors hoped to produce a volume that would be useful to a wide audience, ranging from persons who are just beginning their exploration of Japanese history to advanced specialists in that country's urban history.With that objective in mind, we asked the translators who rendered the Japanese essays into English to be faithful to the authors' meaning, but we departed from such a strictly literal approach during the editing process.In particular, we added introductory sections to certain chapters, rearranged material so as to present the sequence of evidence and conclusion in a manner that is congenial to non-Japanese readers, and added background information in those instances when an author seemed to be speaking exclusively to the expert reader.In the same spirit of rhetorical expediency, we scrutinized lengthy quotations, which are such a prominent feature of Japanese academic writing, and decided to prune some and paraphrase others. Throughout, our goal has been to advance fluency of expression; we hope that we have intervened as unobtrusively as possible and sacrificed nothing of significance.

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