Shunichi Ito, "Manors: From the Kenda Eien Private Property Law to the Onin Rebellion" - Japanese History from the perspective of manors! Also recommended to learn about the relationship between temples and manors.

manor Japanese Buddhism and its History

Shunichi Ito, "Manors: From the Kenda Eien Private Property Law to the Onin Rebellion" Summary and Comments - Japanese History from the perspective of manors! Also recommended to learn about the relationship between temples and manors.

This time we would like to introduce "Shunichi Ito, Shoen: Kenda Eien Shisetsu Hou kara Onin no Ran (The Manor Garden: From Kenda Eien Shisetsu Hou to Onin no Ran)" published by Chuokoron Shinsha in 2021.

Let's take a quick look at the book.

The manor is the original landscape of Japan. It refers to the private farms of ruling families such as court nobles, temples and shrines, and samurai, and began in the Nara Period. They began to increase in the late Heian period and became a source of power for the emperor, who administered the imperial rule. After the Kamakura period (1185-1333), it continued to exist despite the encroachment of samurai power, and came to an end after the Onin War (1467-1568). Although manors are often viewed as a form of private ownership of land for personal gain and as a disturbance of the national order, their contribution to the improvement of agricultural productivity and the development of monetary circulation cannot be overlooked. This article will take a closer look at the manorial system that was the foundation of medieval society, taking into account new findings.

AmazonProducts Page.

As the title of the book suggests, "Shoen: From the Kenda Eien Private Property Law to the Onin Rebellion" focuses on "manors," which have had a major impact on Japanese history. The book is a fascinating look at Japanese history from the perspective of "manors," a viewpoint that may seem unlikely, but it is one that is hard to find.

In the "Introduction," the author describes this "manor" as follows

Because we live in a modern, centralized state, manors are sometimes treated as the devil child of the land system, and are sometimes taken to mean that aristocrats and temples and shrines surrounded the land of the country for their own private gain and disturbed the national order. However, manors could be managed freely without interference from state officials, and the results could be passed on to descendants, which encouraged the development of farmland and the evolution of agricultural management. Since manors were also free to determine the means of sending annual tribute and official matters, copper coins imported from China penetrated the manors, and Japan entered a full-fledged monetary economy in the late Kamakura period (1185-1333). Without the expansion of manors, Japan's shift to a monetary economy would have been much slower.

Above all, Japanese manors have a history of about 750 years, counting from the Kenta Eien Private Property Law promulgated in 743, and about 400 years from the establishment of territorial manors in the 12th century. It is a strict fact that Japanese society has a long history of being divided into thousands of autonomous cells that were loosely connected through master-servant relationships and contracts. This fact must have some influence on the state of Japanese society today.

Chuokoron Shinsha, Shunichi Ito, "Shoen: From Kenda Eien Shisetsu Hou to Onin no Ran (Manors: From Kenda Eien Shisetsu Hou to Onin no Ran)," p. ii.

We live in a centralized modern state, so the manor is sometimes taken to be the devil child of the land system, as if the nobility and temples and shrines had surrounded the land of the country with their private interests and disrupted the order of the country."

Indeed, this point may be something that comes to mind for some of us. In some cases, we have been taught that way, and in other cases, we may naturally feel that way.

However, as the above quotation says, there is no doubt that the "manor" was an entity that had a great impact on Japanese history. This book makes me think that it is important to look at the positive aspects that contributed to the development of the economy, technology, and distribution, rather than simply viewing it in terms of "enclosure of private interests.

This book is also unique in that it provides an explanation of the manor based on the results of recent research. The author also states in the "Introduction" as follows

Japanese manors were actively studied from the 1950s to the 1970s. Postwar Japanese historiography was strongly influenced by Marxism, and the materialist historical view that the substructure (economic structure of society) determines the superstructure (laws, politics, consciousness, etc.) prevailed, and the nature of manors, the substructure of ancient and medieval Japanese society, was studied in detail. (The manor system, the substructure of Japan's ancient and medieval society, was studied in detail.)

However, the study of manors until the 1970s was not without its problems. Marxist historiography, which preached social progress through class struggle, positioned the local lords, the samurai, as a revolutionary force and drew a road map for the formation of feudal society by invading the manors owned by the nobility and temples and shrines. Also, according to Marx's stages of historical development, the Middle Ages should have been a serf society, so he sought out Western-style serfs who were tied to the land in the Japanese Middle Ages. Furthermore, he tried to understand Japanese manorial history within the framework of Western history because the master-servant relationship established by the Kamakura shogunate with the land as the intermediary was similar to that of Western feudalism.

However, this view differs from the actual situation. Local lords supported manors as manorial officials from the beginning of the establishment of territorial manors in the 12th century, and manors had not disappeared even in the Muromachi period of the 15th century. This means that the revolution by the local lords took 400 years. In addition, the peasants of Japanese manors had freedom of movement, and the proportion of servants who did not have that freedom was not large. In Japan, the majority of manor lords lived in Kyoto, and tribute was sent from the provinces for a long period of time, but such manors were rare in Western Europe. The gap between these assumptions and the actual situation has become clearer as research has progressed, but recent studies have made us even more keenly aware of this gap. In this book, I will incorporate the results of recent research and depict the history of the manor in line with the actual situation in Japan, away from the dogma of the past.

Chuokoron Shinsha, Shunichi Ito, "Shoen: Kenda eien private property law to Onin no ran", pⅲ-ⅳ.

Postwar Japanese historiography was strongly influenced by Marxism, and the mainstream was based on the materialist historical view that the substructure (economic structure of society) dictated the superstructure (law, politics, consciousness, etc.), and the nature of manors, the substructure of ancient and medieval Japanese society, was studied in detail.

After all, the influence of Marxism was significant after the war, wasn't it? I was surprised to hear the author point out that Marxism had also influenced academia in this way. I think it is important to know the standpoint from which research is conducted when studying history and culture.

This book will also look back at such trends and look at the history of the "manor" based on recent research findings.

The connection between temples and manors is also significant in considering Japanese Buddhism. Religion is not only about religion. Political economy, historical background, and everything else is connected. In this sense, the manor house, which served as a major economic base and the site for the development of information and technology, is also a major point of reference.

This is a recommended work that also lets you know the flow from the Nara Period to the Middle Ages. Why not pick up a copy?

The above is "Shunichi Ito, "Manors: From the Kenda Eien Private Property Law to the Onin Rebellion" - Japanese History from the perspective of manors! It is also recommended to learn about the relationship between temples and manors".

Click here to read the previous article.

Related Articles

HOME