The Role of Town Officials in the Social Changes Facing the Castle Town in Early Modern Japan - 近世城下町の社会変容と町役人

The Role of Town Officials in the Social Changes Facing the Castle Town in Early Modern Japan - 近世城下町の社会変容と町役人

Masato Takenouchi - Associate Research Scholar in East Asian Studies, Yale University

Monday, April 9, 2018 - 1:00pm to 2:30pm
Room 218, East Asia Library, SML See map
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

This presentation is mainly conducted in Japanese.

In the management of the castle town, the distinctive urban form of early modern Japan, not only samurai bureaucrats but also townspeople officials played an important role in town administration. However, compared with research on townspeople officials in Edo, Kyoto and Osaka, there is more room for discussion about the social importance of townspeople officials in regional castle towns. In this presentation, using records from the lower townspeople officials, or kumigashira, who were primarily responsible for the administration of the castle town of Iida-machi, Shinano Province (present Iida City, Nagano prefecture), I would like to report on what role they played in the changes in town society during the early nineteenth century.


Dr. Takenouchi completed his Ph.D. in Japanese history at the University of Tokyo. During his studies, he worked as a full-time archivist and researcher for the Iida City Institute of Historical Research in Nagano Prefecture. In 2013, he returned to his alma mater as a research associate for the Department of Japanese History in the Faculty of Letters. Most recently, he taught Japanese history and document analysis at Rikkyō University and Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. His own research focuses broadly on the social and cultural history of early modern Japan and specifically on urban society, rural communities, religious institutions, and the social status system. 

Throughout his career. Dr. Takenouchi has worked directly with individuals, community organizations, and student groups on how to handle, read, and analyze kuzushiji and other documents. He has a plethora of experience teaching both Japanese and foreign students how to read documents that were originally written in various forms of pre-modem Japanese languages (kanbun, bungo, sorobun) as well as in kuzushiji and how to properly transcribe those works into modem Japanese. 

At Yale, Dr. Takenouchi will devote half of his time working with the university’s pre-modern Japanese special collections through teaching kuzushiji reading courses, providing research and reference consultations, and engaging in outreach activities.  In this coming fall semester, he will co-teach “Japanese Reference Works and Documents” (History 880) with Professor Daniel Botsman. At the Library, Dr. Takenouchi will assist in improving discovery and preservation of Japanese documents at Yale and working with scholars and students to aid them in their research about premodern Japanese history.