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Meakashi, also known as toorimono were criminal informants hired by domains to help them apprehend criminals who operated or fled beyond domain borders, and also to inform domain authorities on underworld connections and activities.

Such a position was a mark of pride for criminals, who in being appointed to such a position had been officially recognized as the head of their organization. As prominent figures in the local underworld, they could also help local authorities defend their interests (and the criminal's own territory) against drifters and other criminals; port towns, for example, might hire a meakashi to help prevent thefts from warehouses, or to apprehend the thieves.


  • Amy Stanley, Selling Women: Prostitution, Markets, and the Household in Early Modern Japan, UC Press (2012), 177-178.