Hamazaki family

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  • Japanese: 浜崎家 (Hamazaki-ke)

The Hamazaki were one of a number of merchant families of early 19th century Satsuma han officially enlisted by the lords of the domain to serve as officially sanctioned smugglers, infiltrating the market share of the Western and Eastern Sea Circuit trade routes, and passing on some portion of the profits to the domain coffers. At times, they received seed money, aid with transportation costs, or the use of official ships from the domain government.

They smuggled rice, rapeseed oil, vegetable wax, sugar, and a number of other products to markets in Edo, Osaka, Nagasaki, and elsewhere in western Honshû and Kyûshû, adding, if illicitly (under Tokugawa law), to Satsuma's total economic activity. Members of the Hamazaki family, or of their operations, engaged in both shipbuilding and shipping, and maintained agents in the major ports and cities of Japan, as well as in various places within Satsuma territory. By the 1830s, their operations extended across essentially the entire archipelago, as they transported Ryukyuan sugar to Osaka, sugar and sweet potatoes to Sado-ga-shima, Echigo province, and Matsumae han, and Matsumae (Ezo) products such as abalone, kombu, and sea cucumber back down south.


  • Robert Hellyer, Defining Engagement, Harvard University Press (2009), 130.