No ingesting! No preventing! The legal guidelines of early Edo Japan to maintain the peace

No drinking! No fighting! The laws of early Edo Japan to keep the peace

An early Edo interval doc stipulating the Hosokawa clan code of conduct for vassals dispatched on a nationwide venture to rebuild Sunpu Fortress has been found by Kumamoto College researchers. The 13 articles from the pinnacle of the Hosokawa clan within the Kokura area (space), Tadaoki Hosokawa on the time, delegate full authority to the vassals to guide development and stop conflicts with different clans. It’s the second authentic code of conduct doc associated to the Sunpu Fortress reconstruction effort to be found.

No drinking! No fighting! The laws of early Edo Japan to keep the peace
A letter from the lord of the Hosokawa clan to the 4 vassals in cost stating the foundations
to be adopted [Credit: Professor Tsuguharu Inaba]

In the course of the Edo interval (1603-1867), the Japanese central authorities mobilized feudal lords from all around the nation to construct and restore necessary castles and perform intensive infrastructure growth. It’s generally believed that these nationwide initiatives prevented clans from accumulating wealth by forcing them to ship out supplies and males, thereby establishing a system of management within the territory. Sunpu Fortress, situated within the middle of Japan in Shizuoka Prefecture, was intently related to the primary of the Edo Shogunate (Ieyasu Tokugawa) and was an necessary base for the Edo Shogunate. A significant enlargement of the citadel was delayed by a hearth in December of 1607, however was shortly rebuilt by the next 12 months. Various daimyo clans had been mobilized from throughout Japan for this sequence of restoration initiatives.

The doc discovered by researchers was issued by the pinnacle of the Hosokawa clan, Tadaoki Hosokawa, on January eighth, 1608, and outlined the Hosokawa clan code of conduct for vassals throughout reconstruction and their journey from Kokura (now northern Kyushu) to the Sunpu Fortress reconstruction web site (southwest of Tokyo). Constant all through this code is a strict prohibition of any motion which may result in quarrels with vassals or staff of different clans. Articles 9 and 10 delegated full authority of the renovation web site to the 4 individuals named and the superintendent accountable for the Hosokawa clan.

Article 1 instructs the whole Hosokawa workforce to comply with the directions of the superintendent, Masazumi Honda – Aide to the Shogun, in all issues of self-discipline. Article 2 stipulates that preventing inside the clan should be strictly prevented. These engaged in preventing, in addition to those that supported them, had been punished (often by dying).

No drinking! No fighting! The laws of early Edo Japan to keep the peace
For the Hosokawa clan, the code of conduct written by Lord Hosokawa included a restrict on ingesting
alcohol. Staff may solely drink Three small flat sake cups (sakazuki) of alcohol per day. Different guidelines
 included limits on Sumo wrestling/spectating, particulars for coping with run-away servants, and
an order to not use the showering amenities of one other clan. To keep up a peaceable ambiance,
preventing was strictly prohibited and people who engaged within the act could possibly be punished
by dying [Credit: Professor Tsuguharu Inaba]

Articles Three to five are provisions geared toward stopping fights with different clans. Going to observe one other clan’s battle was a punishable offense (Article 3). If a servant escaped to a different home, he was not returned forcefully. However, those that escaped from different clans had been to be returned after the completion of the venture (Article 4). Lodging charges from Kokura to Sunpu had been to be paid in accordance with the “Gohatto” (legal guidelines & rules) (Article 5).


The second half of the code offers a glimpse into the lifetime of the soldier class (ashi-garu) mobilized for the venture. Alcohol (sake) was strictly prohibited. They might deliver their very own meals (bento), however had been to not drink greater than three small flat sake cups (sakazuki) of alcohol (Article 6). When going to city, they had been purported to declare the character of their errand to the Justice of the Peace and acquire a allow (Article 7). Conferences with folks from different clans or the shogunate had been strictly forbidden (Article 8). Scorching baths in one other clan’s amenities weren’t allowed (Article 11). Sumo wrestling and spectating had been strictly forbidden in the course of the interval of the venture, and violators can be punished (Article 12). On the spherical journey between Kokura and Sunpu, staff had been to journey in teams as indicated on an connected sheet (Article 13). This goal of this historic doc was to keep up peace on the venture web site and vividly conveys the points of the samurai society throughout its transition from a time of conflict to peace and prosperity.

When requested concerning the educational significance of this doc, Professor Tsuguharu Inaba stated, “This discovery offers us with an excessive amount of details about the politics regarding feudal lord mobilization by the shogunate to construct castles.” Professor Inaba found the doc and was a part of the Eiseibunko Analysis Middle staff at Kumamoto College who deciphered it.

No drinking! No fighting! The laws of early Edo Japan to keep the peace
Nationwide initiatives within the Edo interval required lords from all components of the nation to contribute
manpower. It’s generally believed that the roles of those initiatives had been 1) to forestall clans
 from accumulating wealth, and a pair of) to determine a system of management over their territories
 by forcing them to offer supplies and manpower
[Credit: Professor Tsuguharu Inaba]

Till now, solely two paperwork associated to the reconstruction of Sunpu Fortress had been recognized: an authentic code of conduct written by Mori Terumoto, feudal lord of the Choshu clan, and one other, which is a replica of the Choshu clan doc, from Maeda Toshinaga, feudal lord of the Kaga clan. The invention of this historic doc and the truth that the three paperwork are comparable implies that every clan was doubtless offered with a common code of conduct framework by the shogunate. Every clan then established the foundations within the identify of their feudal lord and required their vassals to implement them.

The Hosokawa and Mori clans had been enemies in a significant civil conflict (culminating within the Battle of Sekigahara) solely seven years earlier and if one thing had sparked an previous grudge, a significant battle may have advanced. The shogunate dared to mobilize the adversarial clans for a similar nationwide venture to self-discipline them and make their joint efforts extra seen. This historic doc reveals an try to completely forestall conflicts between the clans and means that the shogunate was attempting to get rid of the seeds of civil conflict by reconciling relations between clans. In different phrases, the federal government strategically applied a nationwide venture to determine peace inside Japan.

This doc was made public for the primary time on the 4th of November 2020 on the Kumamoto College Library On-line Exhibition of Uncommon and Precious Supplies.

Supply: Kumamoto College [November 18, 2020]

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