Osaka, the Merchant's Capital of Early Modern Japan

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

C H A P T E R T E N
Osaka as a Center
of Regional Governance

Murata Michihito

TRANSLATED BY KIKUKO YAMASHITA

As James L. McClain suggests in Chapter 3, early modem Osaka was a multifaceted city, a focal point of power and samurai governance as well as a repository of wealth and merchant culture.Subsequent chapters have elaborated upon the significance of the city's commoner population, detailing the manner in which artistic innovations, popular beliefs, religious values, and intellectual breakthroughs emanated outward from Osaka, washing over people in the nearby provinces and all of Japan.As we approach the conclusion to this volume, it is appropriate to return to Osaka's centrality to the exercise of political power and to investigate in more detail the city's importance as a center of regional governance.

Scholars have long conceived of an " Osaka region" that consisted of the villages and hamlets adjacent to the city as well as the surrounding provinces of Settsu, Kawachi, and Izumi.To a very large extent, most of those same scholars have been intent on describing the functioning of the marketing structures that linked Osaka commercially with its extended hinterland. 1. In addition to economic leadership, however, Osaka exerted a kind of political dominance over the surrounding region.To restate a point made in earlier chapters, Osaka was a shogunal city, a bastion of Tokugawa authority in western Japan.With an eye toward ensuring stability throughout central Japan, the shogunate built a major castle at Osaka, and it stationed in the community around the fortress many of its officials, such as the rural intendants (daikan) who conveyed the re‐ gime's laws, decrees, and tax bills to villagers residing on the shogun's holdings scattered across the region.

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1.
See, for instance, the extensive bibliographic listings found in the reference sections of Shinshū Ōsaka Shishi Hensan linkai, ed., Shinshū: Ōsaka shishi, vols. 3 and 4 ( Osaka: Ōsaka‐ shi, 1991, 1990).

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