Machi doshiyori

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  • Japanese: 町年寄 (machi doshiyori)

The machi doshiyori were assistants to the machi bugyô (city magistrates) during the Edo period. They were the highest-ranking townsmen (non-samurai commoners) in the city's official administrative ranks.

Neighborhood headmen (nanushi) of areas within Edo answered to the machi doshiyori, and oversaw the goningumi (five-person collective responsibility groups), and guardhouses and gatehouses within their respective neighborhoods.[1]

The positions of machidoshiyori were dominated since the 1610s by three families: the Naraya, Kitamura, and Taruya families. The Naraya and Taruya families had served Tokugawa Ieyasu on the battlefield during the Sengoku period, but gave up samurai status when they settled in Edo. The Kitamura, meanwhile, were dealers in herbal medicines who had previously served the Maeda clan of Kanazawa prior to settling in Edo. Though commoners, the machidoshiyori were granted the privileges of wearing swords, and the Taruya and Kitamura were permitted to use their surnames in formal contexts. All three enjoyed audiences with the shogun on New Year's each year, and were granted mansions near Nihonbashi, just outside the gates of Edo castle. Though they held no official stipend, all three families periodically enjoyed sizable monetary loans from the shogunate.[2]


  • Arai Hakuseki, Joyce Ackroyd (trans.), Told Round a Brushwood Fire, University of Tokyo Press (1979), 321.
  1. Katô Takashi, "Governing Edo," in James McClain (ed.), Edo & Paris, Cornell University Press (1994), 46.
  2. Katô, 54-55.