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The Labour Market and Labour Migration in Small Post Towns in Early Modern Japan: The Relationship Between a Town and Its Outlying Villages in the Northeastern Domain of Nihonmatsu in the Eighteenth to Nineteenth Centuries

  • Miyuki TakahashiEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Monograph Series of the Socio-Economic History Society, Japan book series (MSSEHSJ)

Abstract

The purposes of this paper are to investigate the role of medium-sized towns in the labour market of Tokugawa Japan (1603–1867), with respect to both supply and demand, and to consider the factors determining labour migration to towns from the farming villages surrounding them. Kōriyama was the political and economic centre of the County of Asaka in northeastern Japan, and thus it enjoyed a high volume of both traffic and regional trade during the Tokugawa era. The town played a significant role in absorbing surplus labour from the 41 outlying villages that together comprised Asaka. Labour migration to Kōriyama fell into two categories: meshimori onna (young women who served food and in many cases acted as sex workers); and men and women from the County of Asaka who worked in households or household businesses as hōkō labour for renewable periods of one year. Migration of hōkō labour to Kōriyama was determined by proximity to the town, and by the economic condition of the village of out migration. As time went by and Kōriyamas economic importance grew, large-scale merchants came to prefer day labour to hōkō labour. This reduced short-term hōkō migration to Kōriyama and encouraged permanent relocation, becoming a major factor in the town’s increase in population.

Keywords

Town Migration Labour Population 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This study would not have been possible without the XAVIER database that was set up under the supervision of Professor Emeritus Akira Hayami, and converted into an IBM DB2 database by Professor Yoshihiko Ono. I would like to express my deep gratitude to them, and also to Ms Saeko Narimatsu who made the materials readily accessible to researchers by transferring the original NAC data into basic data sheets.

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Copyright information

© Socio-Economic History Society, Japan 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EconomicsRisshō UniversityTokyoJapan

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