Table of Contents
三浦 圭一(みうら けいいち)、日本中世の地域と社会、株式社会思文閣出版、京都、1993年 (Miura Keiichi, Regions and Society in Medieval Japan, Shibunkaku Shuppan, Kyoto, 1993)


三浦 圭一(みうら けいいち)、日本中世の地域と社会、株式社会思文閣出版、京都、1993年 (Miura Keiichi, Regions and Society in Medieval Japan, Shibunkaku Shuppan, Kyoto, 1993)

Focal points for a new means of distributing local goods:

Throughout the medieval period, the focal points for distribution of regionally produced goods were the `kokuei` 国衛 and the markets that were affiliated with them. The reason for this was because the kokuei usually took over the area within each province in which production was most advanced and which had the highest level of social stability. This would become the point for the exchange of goods, and from classical times the kokuei warehouses carried on this tradition. The officials that were the most prolific consumers within the province also happened to be members of the local landowning class. These figures in turn would accumulate in areas of political importance (in other words, near markets).(191)

However the medieval system of product distribution eventually began to found new focal points within the local regions. The most classic example of this can be found in the development of ports and inlets. The warehouses located near ports administered the tithe shipments that came in from the shōen, both in terms of stockpiling and storage. Some examples of such ports were those of Tsurugatsu (敦賀津) and Obama (小浜) on the Sea of Japan, and Omichi(尾道), Kaitsu(堺津), Hyōgotsu (兵庫津), Yodotsu (淀津), and Izumikotsu(泉木津) on the Inland Sea. These ports were essential for the control of the nationwide shōen system by the predominant Kenmon landowners, hence these continued to emerge as a result of the development of ferried transport by merchants and traders endowed with special rights (the same merchants that helped to support the national system of distribution) and the routes of transportation to more distant provinces. The development of port towns was, therefore, a new effect of the system of regional distribution. Whilst regional transport thrived, the port towns became a new point of interest for the distribution of merchandise nationwide.(191)

A typical example of this was the settlement of Katata in Ōmi province.(191) From the fifteenth through to the sixteenth century this was a typical port town, and was one of the leading examples of a temple based town. The basis for the development of Katata came from the right of `uenori` (上乗り) which controlled water transport over the lake. This right extended along the Sea of Japan coastline as far north as Mutsu and Dewa, and westwards as far as Ishimi. In the midst of the farmers of Katata, who made up the central figures of the village, there was a group known as the Matōdoshū (全人衆). A majority of these members were from the trading and manufacturing classes, yet at the same time they were also members of the Honganji Monto. The main character in this group was the Hōjū (法住) (the resident priest) who from his base at Katata Honpukuji became the focal point for Honganji Monto activities in the Katata area.(192)

The participation of Katata in the transport of goods had originally derived from a set condition with the temple complex of Hieizan, which controlled the shōen on the western side of Lake Biwa. However, in the 2nd year of Ōnin (1468), the `great attack` (大責) by Hieizan saw Katata establish a degree of freedom of control from Enryakuji. In the background to this development lay the wealth of members of the Matōdoshū, yet what really brought this about, as according to the example of the Hōjū of the `Kanya` (紺屋). The members of Katata responsible for running the berthing spots and other shore facilities essentially established a monopoly over all aspects of buildings dealing with lake transport (as detailed in the Honpukuji Atogaki). (192)

These particularly influential members of the Katata fraternity became members of the Honganji community, and by doing so strengthened the organization ability of the transport industry. For the Honganji faithful that grew and developed during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, they were supported by their religious ties, and whilst continuing their family businesses they believed in the saving grace of Amidha. As a consequence, many of these groups of followers developed together with the temple towns. However, the temple town was not simply a `monzen` town (a town that grew up around a temple for purely merchant reasons), but was more of a castle town of the Honganji sect, able to raise a military force if necessary. Furthermore, this town possessed a spirit of equality, hence in order to encourage a community form of life, the Monto systematically planned for the construction of a town that could also function as a fortress.(192)

Hence both the Honganji groups of believers and those of Negoroji in the Kii peninsula had those members who were drawn from land owners whose wealth came from high interest rates and the accumulation of excess produce. This in itself produced the paradox of the Honganji communities (in which members, who were supposed to be equals, were in fact divided according to social rank, which in turn meant that the Monto had no choice but to take a fairly harsh political stance (192)(this last point is quite unclear, unless the author means that a more aggressive political stance was taken because the leadership of the Monto consisted of members of wealthier common classes).

© Greg Pampling. This page was modified in December 2011