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Tsubame1
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 7:35 am    Post subject: Samurai in Satsuma Reply with quote
Hi all.

Thomas, a fellow forumite on NMB, with one of his posts has rised my interest in the situation of Satsuma Samurai.

Due to the high number of samurai in Satsuma, the economical situation of the class in this Han is reported as much more difficult than elsewhere in Japan till to the point that farming and other labor forbidden to samurai in other han was authorized even encouraged in Satsuma. It makes sense.
May I ask when this permission was given, by whom, which other works other than farming allowed and possibly sources to check ?

I confess to have never focused in this specific
aspect of Satsuma Han that might have influenced later Japanese history.

Any feedback highly appreciated and blessed. Smile
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tsubame,

You raise a very interesting question. As we know, there were a number of things that set Satsuma apart in the Edo period, including its defiance of the "one castle per han" rule. Unlike in other domains, where samurai were removed from "the land" so to speak and forced to live in the cities, Satsuma was divided up into sub-domains, many of which still centered on castles, in a system called tojô seido (外城制度). It was here in the sub-domains, it would seem, that much of this farmer-warrior activity went on.

I don't know about the samurai experiencing economic difficulties (though it would make sense), but the late Robert Sakai, who was the leading scholar on Satsuma in English, has written a fair bit on various aspects of Satsuma's administration.

According to his essay "Feudal Society and Modern Leadership in Satsuma-han" (Journal of Asian Studies 16:3, 1957), the "farmer-soldier system" or tonden heisei (屯田兵制) was not something instituted in the Edo period, but rather something which simply remained in place since the Kamakura period. So, while we may be able to go research it and find out more precisely the details of the establishment of this system in the Kamakura period, it would appear that there was no specific moment in the Edo period that any particular daimyo or shogun authorized samurai to farm the land.

As Sakai writes:
Quote:

The "sword hunt" decree had stripped the peasant of his weapons, but the samurai remained on the soil; Ieyasu's decree had razed the fortifications, but the military-social units continued to dominate the countryside.


That said, the Shimazu did apparently receive official permission from the shogunate to maintain this system of outer castles, in 1615 or very shortly afterwards, and to maintain a population of rural samurai (gôshi, 郷士).

Sakai goes on to explain the "outer castle system" in further detail, describing the various administrative positions samurai filled, and the way they interacted with peasants and commoners. Unlike in other domains, he points out, where the samurai were clustered in the city, and where the peasants could therefore enjoy a degree of autonomy and self-rule, in Satsuma, samurai administrators were present more or less throughout the domain, watching over the peasantry.

One thing that this essay does not seem to indicate, however, is whether the samurai in Satsuma engaged in activity as artisans (craftsmen) or merchants. I would imagine they would have, since surely some of these outer castles were more urban than rural, since farming land was not necessarily available to each and every samurai, and since presumably individuals might have an interest in certain crafts, or the desire to amass greater wealth and make a better living, seeing how successful some chônin merchants were. Of course, on the other hand, there is the possibility that the vast majority of samurai saw mercantile and artisanal work as below them, while farming retained a certain respectability. I don't know.

In any case, I would imagine that other writings by Dr Sakai might contain more information on this subject. I don't have them right in front of me right now to go look, but if you have access to a university library, or otherwise to such sources, I'd recommend looking into other things he has written, including his book 'The Status System and Social Organization of Satsuma' (1975), and his essay "The Consolidation of Power in Satsuma-han" in the edited volume 'Studies in the Institutional History of Early Modern Japan' (1968).
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Tsubame1
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Very interesting Lordameth.

This sums up pretty much the situation and I've now some inputs on where to watch in.

Might be that the specific geographical position of Satsuma forced the central government to allow a certain diversity in social administration and organization to be sure to have the highest possible number of Samurai resident there, ready to protect the most vulnerable place of the nation.
This would aslo explain the permission to maintain several castles as well.
More, if Satsuma has always had an highest number of Samurai versus population ratio in front of other Han, this permission could also be explained as a way to avoid unrest for too many unenploied samurai with the Pax Tokugawa, something that was possbile to avoid elsewhere in other ways cause the inferior number of resident Samurai.
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
Might be that the specific geographical position of Satsuma forced the central government to allow a certain diversity in social administration and organization to be sure to have the highest possible number of Samurai resident there, ready to protect the most vulnerable place of the nation.


That's a really interesting theory/idea. I had never thought of it that way.

I always considered this a result, simply, of the power of Satsuma to resist the shogunate's rules or demands - due to its size and wealth, and distance from Edo. If I recall correctly, the Shimazu did not fight at Sekigahara, but stayed home and shored up their own defenses. So, I have an image in my mind of Satsuma basically picking and choosing what rules it wants to follow, and essentially saying, "if you don't like it, you can come attack us, but I warn you, we're ready for you."

Of course, on the other hand, we now discover that the Shimazu actually asked, and received, *permission* for an exception to the one castle rule.. And, since the Shimazu lords were always jockeying for rank and position at the shogun's court, I guess we can't really say that they would, or could, simply stand on their own, in defiance of the shogunate's rules - they'd lose rank and such.

So I'm not sure. Your idea may very well have feet.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Possibly both considerations worked together (maybe with different weight toward each other in different periods) and both parts were happy with the result.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Check out Mark Ravina's The Last Samurai, which is a bio of Saigo Takamori, and deals with how Satsuma organized its samurai population. If you can read Japanese, I also recommend 図説・薩摩の群像 決定版―鎌倉武士から幕末・維新まで時代をかけ抜けた男たち (歴史群像シリーズ).
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 1:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks. Smile
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tsubame1 wrote:
Might be that the specific geographical position of Satsuma forced the central government to allow a certain diversity in social administration and organization to be sure to have the highest possible number of Samurai resident there, ready to protect the most vulnerable place of the nation.

Actually, as I have been getting into Beasley's book The Meiji Restoration, he puts forth an interesting and, to me, viable theory on why Satsuma (and Choshu and other tozama han) have higher than usual ratios of samurai to commoner populations. Since these han were on the losing side at Sekigahara (being designated tozama han meant they had submitted to Ieyasu only after his victory), they were penalized and their territories reduced. The same population, thus squeezed more tightly into a smaller area would account for the greater proportion of samurai in that population and thus make it necessary to use them in more diverse ways.

I read Sakai's article "Feudal Society and Modern Leadership in Satsuma-han," and the elucidation of the goshi system was quite interesting. They were MUCH more tightly policed in the countryside than other han were, and I found the bit about the yearly "Consolation Day" festival especially amusing. It reminded me of an old Star Trek episode, actually. Wink
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
onnamusha wrote:

Actually, as I have been getting into Beasley's book The Meiji Restoration, he puts forth an interesting and, to me, viable theory on why Satsuma (and Choshu and other tozama han) have higher than usual ratios of samurai to commoner populations. Since these han were on the losing side at Sekigahara (being designated tozama han meant they had submitted to Ieyasu only after his victory), they were penalized and their territories reduced. The same population, thus squeezed more tightly into a smaller area would account for the greater proportion of samurai in that population and thus make it necessary to use them in more diverse ways.
That seems pretty well accepted. Reischauer's East Asia: The Great Tradition (1960) mentions that in Satsuma the "relatively high percentage of retainers among the total population, consequently forc[ed] some of the samurai to continue as self-supporting farmers," though it was not because of Sekigahara, but because of Hideyoshi's 1587 conquest.By the way being tozama does not mean they were on the losing side at Sekihara, though one often sees this stated. The Hosokawa, Date, Maeda, and Yamanouchi were all major tozama daimyo that fought for Ieyasu at Sekigahara. Tozama means they were not his formal vassals in 1600.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 5:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Were Samurai allowed to relocate after their former lord was dispossessed of the lands they lived on, or were they forced to stay under the new ruler ?
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tsubame1 wrote:
Were Samurai allowed to relocate after their former lord was dispossessed of the lands they lived on, or were they forced to stay under the new ruler ?
I never heard of them being forced to stay; usually the problem was that they were forced to leave.
Usually for practical reasons they would want to stay if possible. In the Sengoku, often the new ruler was extending his territory and would want new warriors, or they could just keep up previous farming activities or become innkeepers or something. In the Edo period, though the new lord usually brought his retainers with him and did not want any more, and it was hard to obtain farming land or get into a profession for scratch, so they were forced to become ronin and leave. After Iemitsu's death this was recognized a social problem, so the bakufu cut down on the confiscation of fiefs.
But the Akô ronin, for example, were not forced to stay in Ako.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Did the Uesugi encounter the same overpopulation of samurai as Satsuma when they were forced to relocated from Aizu to Yonezawa. If it was merely that a clan domain size was reduced that caused a much higher percentage of samurai, then wouldn't this be the case for all clans that had their domains reduced in size? Yet we often hear of the proportion of samurai in Satsuma but not so much in other domains.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
A good point. Nothing that I've read has made a point of saying anything about the proportion of samurai population in Yonezawa. (Or, indeed, in any other domain that comes to mind at the moment.)
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
By the way being tozama does not mean they were on the losing side at Sekihara, though one often sees this stated. The Hosokawa, Date, Maeda, and Yamanouchi were all major tozama daimyo that fought for Ieyasu at Sekigahara. Tozama means they were not his formal vassals in 1600.
Thanks, Bethetsu. I should have figured that one out from those examples you cited above; I suppose my idea was that the ones who fought against Ieyasu at Sekigahara and lost but who were allowed to keep their territories, would have had them reduced, and thus the samurai would be squeezed in to a smaller territory. I stand corrected on my misuse of the "tozama" term! Embarassed
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tornadoes28 wrote:
Did the Uesugi encounter the same overpopulation of samurai as Satsuma when they were forced to relocated from Aizu to Yonezawa


Yes, they did. Kagekatsu brought all of his retainers with them and slashed the stipends of most in order to be able to keep them all. His counciler Naoe Kanetsugu 'retired' and contributed the majority of his stipend to his retainers in order to allow them to keep their heads above water. Many of the Uesugi retainers were encouraged to take up farming and other ventures in order to generate more income.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Not that I don't believe you on this - I absolutely do - but I'm curious as to your source on this, just so I can read more.

More or less all I've seen on Yonezawa comes from Mark Ravina's article "State-Building and Political Economy in Early Modern Japan" (Journal of Asian Studies 54:4, 1995), and his book Land and Lordship (1999) (the latter of which I haven't really read thoroughly). I'd be curious to read more about it...
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Most any of the plethora of Japanese books about Naoe released in the wave of the Taiga a couple of years back would detail it-the ones I have handy are Rekishi Gunzou #16 and 17, which detail the Uesugi family and Naoe Kanetsugu. They examine it in some detail. If I remember correctly, Papinot gives a (very) short mention of Naoe giving his stipend away in his Atlas of Japan. He ended up giving away 55,000 or so of his 60,000 yearly koku.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Sorry for the thread bump, but could some of the higher-than-average numbers of samurai in the Edo-period Satsuma domain have stemmed from the need to maintain the threat of force in terms of dealing with their vassals in the Ryukyu Kingdom?

As in, the Shimazu would presumably have wanted to keep enough military might on hand to provide a powerful ongoing backdrop to their contunued influence at Shuri Castle; as well as some kind of "first response" force in the advent of an external attack on Okinawa (which, with the Qing recently expanding into Taiwan and the European powers expanding thewr own collective presence in the western Pacific, might not have been outside of the realm of possibility from a Satsuma or bakufu perspective).
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
No need to apologize for a thread bump. That's what it's here for! I'm glad you're going back and finding old threads and reviving them.

I don't know all the ins and outs of how Satsuma was managed, but my hunch would be that, no, concern about defending (or maintaining control over) Okinawa was not a major reason for Satsuma's samurai population. They only took over the Ryukyu Kingdom in 1609, and things were pretty much already in place at that time for Satsuma's demographic proportions; I'm not sure if all their policies about sub-domains and samurai bureaucracies and hierarchies were already in place, but, in any case, I imagine this being the makeup of Satsuma anyway, already. As one of the largest, most powerful, and most distant (from Edo) domains, Satsuma was able to bend and even break many of the shogunate's rules, and to flaunt it. I think they basically just maintained (to some extent) the samurai-rich situation they already had.

Greg Smits has recently published a short article (http://www.japanfocus.org/-Gregory-Smits/3409) which describes some elements of the military of the Ryukyu Kingdom; this is, so far as I am aware, more or less the best you're going to get in English, until (unless) Smits publishes more on the subject. So, the kingdom definitely had a military. But given the ease with which Satsuma conquered the kingdom, I don't think that keeping it was necessarily something which would have called for the maintenance of a larger military; remember, also, that in order to hide their influence in Ryukyu, Satsuma maintained only a very very small physical presence (i.e. very few number of samurai) in the kingdom.

You make a good point about trying to defend the kingdom from outside threats - I hadn't thought about that. ...

But, considering that the percentage of samurai in a domain is a demographic situation, and not really a bureaucratic one, it seems to me something that likely developed naturally over time, and then simply continued. It probably had something to do with how many clans they had conquered in the past, but, beyond that, it's really just a function of how many samurai continued to be born and to live within Satsuma territory. It's not as if other domains were forcing their samurai to become commoners or something - it's just an accident of population dynamics. When a certain area historically had a larger percentage of a certain type of people, absent any large emigration event, the area will generally tend to continue to have a large proportion of that type of people, right?
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Satsuma was one of the stricter Han with its own people (very insular and concerned with internal security), so having a lot of samurai on the books to police the countryside and 'squeeze' their peasants for a bit more bounty (to pay for all those samurai) was the largest reason for having so many. Of course, it also allowed them to better discourage interference from the outside (ie, the Shogunate).

By the time of the Bakumatsu, Satsuma was one of the better-off Han financially (just like their eventual partners in crime in Choshu). Much of this was due to their cut of the trade with China via Ryukyu-allowing them to continue fielding a large army and equip it with the best arms. So rather than being the cause of needing a large core of samurai, Ryukyu actually enabled the Shimazu to keep their ranks full.
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