Tokushima han

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Tokushima was a 258,000 koku tozama domain located on Shikoku. The domain, based at Tokushima castle and ruled by the Hachisuka clan, controlled all of Awa province, along with Awaji Island, making them one of the ten or so hon-kunimochi ("true country holding") daimyô in the realm,[1] and one of the only ones to hold two entire provinces. The domain has been characterized as possessing a highly commercialized economy, specializing in particular in the production & export of indigo, and a relatively small samurai population compared to many other domains.[2] By the late Tokugawa period, indigo represented roughly 20% of all agricultural production in the domain.[3]

Hachisuka Yoshishige was the first Edo period lord of Tokushima, being restored in his family's domain by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The family had been officially enfeoffed in Tokushima in 1585 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, with an official kokudaka of 181,000, but had later lost the domain to Toyotomi Hideyori. Following the Hachisuka's loyal service to the Tokugawa in the battle of Sekigahara and the 1615 Osaka Campaign, Yoshishige was also given Awaji Island as part of his domain, raising his total omotedaka to 250,000.

During the reign of the second lord of Tokushima, Hachisuka Tadateru, misconduct on the part of one of the karô led to a succession dispute known as the Amabe Dispute. Political tensions came to a head again in the 1750s-60s, as Hachisuka Shigeyoshi, the tenth daimyô of the domain, clashed with karô and chûrô officials. His attempts to break the power of a controlling cabal of karô were briefly successful, but ultimately led to the shogunate ordering his resignation in 1769. The karô cabal, led by the Inada, Kashima, Yamada, Hasegawa, and Ikeda families, regained power for a time, as Shigeyoshi's successor, Hachisuka Haruaki, was a minor. However, some years after reaching his majority, in 1790, Haruaki dismissed Hasegawa Ômi and his allies from their positions, and attempted to reclaim greater personal power in the hands of the daimyô, framing this as a return to the times of the first three lords of Tokushima, Hachisuka Yoshishige, Tadateru, and Mitsutaka.[4]

Another incident known as the Inada Dispute occurred in the Bakumatsu period, throwing the governance of the domain into chaos.

Demography & Economics

Tokushima had considerably more commoners per retainer than some other prominent domains, and furthermore saw population growth over the course of the Edo period, and not as severe instances of depopulation as many other domains, resulting in a comparatively stable and secure financial base. Whereas domains like Hirosaki and Yonezawa struggled to collect enough taxes to pay their retainers, this presented less of a difficulty for Tokushima. By the end of the Edo period, each Tokushima retainer on average was supported by twice as many peasants as in Hirosaki, and six times as many as in Yonezawa. The average stipend was also higher, even as the amount extracted from each peasant (on average, per capita) was less. This also meant that the domain did not need to rely as heavily on commercial exports as some other domains did for tax revenues, and could instead focus on supporting the industry to produce high quality products at proper prices.[5]

Beginning in the 18th century, the development of the industry in cotton textiles at Osaka created an expanded demand for indigo,[5] leading Tokushima to focus on indigo as a specialty export, much as many other domains did in other products, seeking a monopolistic control over the market in that one good in order to maintain a strong domainal economy. Tokushima managed this by encouraging a notion that Tokushima indigo was of particularly high quality, and thus blocking out any competitors, whose products thus came to be seen as inferior.

In fact, the domain took a direct hand in the indigo industry as early as 1625, establishing an indigo division within the domain's lacquer tree office, which offered incentives and allowances for growers. By 1673, the domain government had begun issuing regulations aimed at quality control. In the early years of the 1700s, Tokushima merchants were split between those who wished to sell their indigo freely on the market, and those who wished to operate through the Edo-based tonya wholesalers. The domain was then briefly divided geographically between east and west, with each side engaging in one of the two business models. This direct conflict ended in 1718, when the machi bugyô (town magistrate) of Edo ordered the tonya abolished. However, the underlying question of which business model to follow remained. The domain government attempted to organize its own designated buyers in Edo in 1724, but after both indigo merchants in Tokushima and the Edo buyers schemed to subvert the system, the domain returned to endorsing free trade in 1731.[6]

By this time, indigo had become a major enough part of the agricultural product of the land that many farmers were paying their nengu (annual taxes) in indigo. Though the domain government had not explicitly aimed to make indigo a significant portion of its fisc, indigo had come to occupy that position in the domain economy on its own. The return to free trade in 1731 was followed in 1733 by the establishment of an indigo office (aikata goyôjô), which aimed to buy and sell indigo in order to help control prices, along with the implementation of a series of taxes on indigo production and commerce. The taxation system necessarily led to the establishment of various types of surveys, registers, and inspectors, to help ensure that everyone was paying the appropriate amount of taxes. This increased governmental involvement in the indigo business culminated in the establishment of a domainal indigo kabunakama (guild) in 1754.[7]

The kabunakama met with considerable popular opposition, and peasant uprisings cropped up across the domain. The domain was initially reluctant to give in to the peasants' demands, fearing that showing protest to be effective would only encourage further protests. However, in the end, by 1760, the domain made a number of changes to policy, abolishing the kabunakama, the indigo office, and the 4% tax.[8]

The domain thus returned to a system of "free trade," meaning lessened governmental involvement. But, this approach too brought challenges, as Osaka merchant cartels exerted their power as consumers over the market, in order to drive prices down. The domain fought back in the 1760s, instituting a short-lived system in which indigo cubes could no longer be exported to the Osaka merchants, and direct sales to dyers could only take place with already established customers, and only at levels authorized by the domain’s indigo office. The domain, further, replaced the Osaka merchants as a source of credit, lending Tokushima merchants money at lower interest rates, and working not to fix prices as domainal offices did in many other domains, but rather to prevent price fixing. This did succeed in raising the prices, and in driving out the overly controlling influence of the Osaka cartels. However, the cartels filed a suit with the shogunate, and after a lengthy and complicated set of legal proceedings, the shogunate ordered the new system eliminated, arguing that it was not in line with precedent.[9]

The domain government, led by karô Hasegawa Ômi, feigned compliance, continuing the new policies under different names, and in slightly changed forms, comfortable in the knowledge that the shogunate would not send inspectors into the domain, or otherwise watch too closely. This succeeded for a while, but eventually, in the 1780s, Osaka merchants began to take issue once again with their lack of involvement in the indigo trade. The Tokushima system essentially forced nakagai (merchant middlemen, such as those based in Osaka) to travel to Tokushima to purchase indigo, since it was not being exported directly to them. In the late 1780s, the Osaka merchants complained once again to the shogunate, and by 1790, the shogunate once again demanded an end to the Tokushima domainal government’s interference in the indigo trade.[10]

Daimyô Hachisuka Haruaki then worked to compete against the power of the Osaka cartels by establishing his own rival cartels. In addition to the establishment of a fertilizer tonya in 1799 and other efforts, in the early years of the 1800s he arranged, through his Edo and Osaka rusuiyaku, to have a select set of designated merchants in each city who would handle Awa indigo. He also worked to promote local products other than indigo, including paper, salt, tobacco, sugar, and tea. The Osaka merchants got upset yet again, and launched a suit, yet again; the domain responded by doubling down on its controlling policies. Since the shogunate was reluctant to get involved in complex commercial issues between too many different parties, and since Tokushima was able to engineer to its own benefit the outcomes of any compromises between the multiple parties (multiple different factions of Osaka merchants, dyers, etc.), the lawsuit ultimately collapsed, by 1807.[4]

In 1813, the domain then proposed the establishment of a new domain warehouse, through which all Awa indigo sent to Osaka would flow. In a letter to the rôjû Makino Tadakiyo, Haruaki defended this new system by claiming it to be in accordance with precedent, representing his opponents (the Osaka merchants) as merely litigious and greedy, and was successful in getting his new system approved.[11]

By 1831, the domain had considerably expanded its operations, and controlled guilds in provinces throughout Japan, from Iyo and Aki to Mutsu, to Kyoto, Ise, and Owari, exerting considerable control over its own distribution networks.[11]

Bakumatsu & Meiji

Pro-Imperial loyalism in Tokushima was largely espoused only by the Inada clan separatists and their followers, many of whom went on to fight in the Boshin War.[12]

Lords of Tokushima

  1. Hachisuka Yoshishige
  2. Hachisuka Tadateru
  3. Hachisuka Mitsutaka
  4. Hachisuka Tsunanori
  5. Hachisuka Yoshihisa (d. 1754)
  6. Hachisuka Shigeyoshi (r. 1754-1769)
  7. Hachisuka Haruaki (r. 1769- )
  8. Hachisuka Narimasa
  9. Hachisuka Narihiro (r. 1843-1868)
  10. Hachisuka Mochiaki (r. 1868-1871)


  • Mark Ravina, Land and Lordship in Early Modern Japan, Stanford University Press, 1999.
  1. Ravina, 19.
  2. Ravina, 9.
  3. Ravina, 58.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ravina, 181.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ravina, 155.
  6. Ravina, 161-162.
  7. Ravina, 163-164.
  8. Ravina, 167.
  9. Ravina, 168-173.
  10. Ravina, 175.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Ravina, 183-184.
  12. Ravina, 202.