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RELATED TOPIC:
BASHÔ (1644-1694)

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BASHÔ'S NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH

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CHIKAMATSU MONZAEMON (1653-1725)

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TOKUGAWA JAPAN
Economic Growth and Urbanization
Tokugawa Japan Video Clip

Robert Oxnam :: The Tokugawa period was also famous for its burgeoning economic growth and for the rapid development of cities.

Carol Gluck :: A third area in which one talks about the importance of the Tokugawa changes, these hidden changes that are going on even when they're not supposed to, is in the economic realm. Tremendous commercialization. The penetration of the money economy. The urbanization — and towns are so important to commerce — the what some scholars now like to call "proto-industrialization," "proto-capitalism," — all these "protos," which is just by way of saying that there were a lot of changes that became capitalism and industrialization, all that later, that seemed to be starting in the Tokugawa.

Robert Oxnam :: The capital of Edo, later Tokyo, swelled to almost a million in the eighteenth century and was quite possibly the largest city in the world at the time. Urbanization brought the rapid increase of a merchant class.

Carol Gluck :: There are no merchant princes in Japanese history in the Tokugawa period, which is an interesting thought. It would have to be something like a merchant feudal lord, or a merchant samurai, and that kind of coupling is not possible in Japanese history. It did not happen. What you have instead, in terms of this rise of what became the truly wealthy and prosperous and influential merchants, is simple beginnings and consistent prospering across the centuries.

The best example is a man who wrote in 1616:

A great peace is at hand. The shogun rules firmly and with justice at Edo. No more shall we have to live by the sword. I have seen that great profit can be made honorably. I shall brew sake and soy sauce, and we shall prosper.

Carol Gluck :: And the man who wrote that, his name was Mitsui Takatoshi [1622-1694], and he was the founder of what became the Mitsui empire.

Translation of Mitsui Takatoshi excerpt provided by Carol Gluck.