The Flowing Chō : Cart Transportation and the Redefinition of Japan's Early Modern Urban Space

Youjia LI*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

Abstract

This article proposes a reinterpretation of the meaning and function of the basic sociospatial unit of the early modern Japanese city, the chō. It argues that chō is best understood not as a fixed unit of space but as a conception that could expand, change, and even move. Takanawa-chō, a peripheral area south of Edo, was transformed into the gateway to the city by its association with the transportation industry. The dynamic movement of this particular "flowing chō" not only reflected but also drove the socioeconomic transformation of the city throughout the Tokugawa period and into the early Meiji era.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-36
JournalThe Journal of Japanese Studies
Volume50
Issue number1
Early online date7 Feb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

I extend my sincere gratitude to Amy Stanley for reading various versions of this article since it started as a term paper. I am grateful to Nishiki Ko¯ichi, Narita Ryu¯ichi, Iwamoto Sho¯ko, Kumai Tamotsu, and Yuan Jiaxing for generous help and support during my research in Japan. I also thank the journal’s editors and anonymous reviewers for valuable suggestions for improvements.

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