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Updated:June 25, 2014

Modern Times

Modern Times "Town and Village Life in the Edo Period"

At the start of the Edo period, the feudal lords gathered the samurai and the merchants and craftsmen who supported their lives in castle towns, and the people living in villages were given the status of farmers (separation of military and peasants). Modern villages that were quite unlike medieval villages were established and castle towns began to develop.
Roads such as the Nakasendo were constructed. While wholesale merchants at post towns monopolized transport, in Shinano it was common for peasants to transport goods directly from the shipper to the destination by horse or cow. This was called "chuma". Industries throughout Shinano grew as a result of the activities of these "chuma".

Ordinary farmhouses at the beginning of the Edo period were simple constructions of earth-floored rooms and straw-matted rooms with few partitions, a thatched roof and roughshaved pillars. Peasants ate oats mixed with millet grain,panicum miliaceum,and Japanese radish cooked in an earthen pot, wore hemp clothing and lived on large straw mats called "neko".


Personal effects of a feudal lord

Personal effects of a feudal lord (Stored in Nagano Prefectural Museum of History)


Peasants' lives improved drastically with economic growth, including changes from hemp clothing to cotton clothing, from two meals a day to three, and from rooms with earth floors to rooms with wooden floors. The weddings of wealthy farmers were celebrated with attractive silk fabrics and lavish food. On festival days people enjoyed sumo wrestling, puppet plays and kabuki.
The masses too were becoming more aware and were developing their own culture, and there was an increase in temple schools teaching reading, writing and the abacus. Written documents came to be exchanged on the occasion of a sale or promise, lawsuits were brought for wrongdoing, and the people joined forces to oppose injustices by the rulers by use of force (revolts) to protect their own livelihoods.

Kuroda dolls

Kuroda dolls (Imitations stored in Nagano Prefectural Museum of History)