Unruly Youths, Unwanted Pregnancies and Rural Society in Nineteenth Century Japan – Cases from the Year of the Fire Horse, 1846 (19世紀における若者問題と地域社会 ―弘化3年丙午の年の事例から―)

Unruly Youths, Unwanted Pregnancies and Rural Society in Nineteenth Century Japan – Cases from the Year of the Fire Horse, 1846 (19世紀における若者問題と地域社会 ―弘化3年丙午の年の事例から―)

Mio Shimazaki –Postdoctoral Fellow in East Asian Studies, Yale University

Friday, January 11, 2019 - 1:00pm to 2:30pm
Room 207, East Asia Library, SML See map
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

This presentation is mainly conducted in Japanese.



During the nineteenth century, the social order in rural areas, composed of villages and ie households, was shaken strongly. Local ruling classes, such as village officials and local landowners, made in-village regulations repeatedly, and kept disruptive factors in check by relying on the mutual watching responsibilities of household and five-household groups (goningumi). The behavior of local youths and servants who had come from other regions, including gambling, rowdiness during festivals, and banquets and other gatherings, was considered a particularly big issue.

In this talk, using documents held by village officials and an oil producer in Ikedashimo village (present-day Ikedashimo-cho, Izumi City, Osaka Prefecture), I discuss unexpected pregnancies and abortions falsely reported as miscarriages mainly occurring between unmarried couples. Looking closely at an intensified crackdown over abortions in 1846, a “Fire Horse” (hinoeuma) year that was considered unfavorable for childbirth, I introduce some cases of how village societies accepted this regulation. Through this discussion, I create a basis for further research on rural social structures in nineteenth century Japan.

Mio Shimazaki (PhD, Osaka City University/Naruto University of Education) is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Osaka City University, Urban-Culture Research Center and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. As a historian, her research interests include early modern Japanese policy making, commercial practices, and labor and working-class history. Her research focuses on production, distribution and consumption of daily commodities in early modern Japan (especially lamp oil), and social relationships in rural society in Izumi province and Osaka.

Shimazaki’s representative academic publication is “Influence of the Management of Oil Producers on the Local Social Structure: Focusing on Ikedashimo Village”, Rekishi Kagaku 220-221, 2015, pp. 68–85.

This presentation is part of a joint project with Osaka City University, titled “Marginal Social Groups’ Experiences of Modernity,” sponsored by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.