This paper is a result of “Marginal Social Groups’ Experiences of Modernity: Building Bridges between Historians of Asia in Japan and the West” (2017-2019; representative: Takashi Tsukada), a project of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. It was published in Shidai Nihonshi 21 (The Historical Journal of Japan by Osaka City University, 2018). It will be posted here in two parts.
Section Two: Collaborative Research Surveys and Traditional Society
The activities of the Izumi City History group started in 1996, but it was in 1997 that a central pillar of this project, the collaborative research surveys (gōdōchōsa) were initiated. The Japanese history department at Osaka City University had been involved in archival activities since the survey of the Kurotori village documents in 1994, but the collaborative research survey represented the first time we put this experience into practice. Over the course of twenty surveys conducted between 1996 and 2016, we operated with the understanding that the Osaka City University Japanese history department was working in collaboration, not only with the Izumi City History project, but also with the residents of Izumi themselves. At the same time, these surveys had an enormous impact on our plan for the structure of the Izumi City History. In September of 2017, we conducted the twenty-first collaborative research survey in Manchō.
1. What is the “Collaborative Research Survey?”
The collaborative research surveys involve the archivists of the Izumi city educational committee along with the entire Japanese history department at Osaka City University – this includes faculty, undergraduates, graduate students, and former students, regardless of age or specialization (e.g. ancient or modern history). The tens of individuals involved in the survey lodge together over the course of three days and two nights in the area under survey. All of the activities involved in the survey, such as planning, execution, and reporting on the results, takes roughly one year.
The survey is conducted with the assistance of members of a neighborhood association, and the area under survey is coterminous with the neighborhood in question. This is the reason our surveys are conducted on a neighborhood level.
The region around Izumi City was home to over sixty villages during the early modern period. A new system of rural administration was developed after the Meiji Restoration, which saw the consolidation of many of the older villages; nevertheless, the early modern villages continued to live on as subdivisions of these larger village units, and in many cases form direct connections with the post-war neighborhood associations in Izumi. Of course, with new developments in rural administration, many neighborhood associations were broken up, or new associations emerged that had no connection to an early modern village. However, when we take a long view of history, and when we analyze the region from the smallest social organizations, the fact that the village as the basic unit of social life during the early modern period later became the subdivision, then neighborhood association, holds great significance for rural history.
In specific terms, the collaborative research surveys are not limited only to household documents from the early modern and modern eras, but also look at a wide array of historical material including documents from the neighborhood association; documents of shrine organizations; documents created by temple and shrines; and material created by various other social groups in the area, including associations for water management. We also conduct interviews with older members of the neighborhood and members of women’s associations, in order to get at the history of daily life from women’s perspectives; together, all of these different materials allow for a multifaceted examination of the area from its days as an early modern village all the way up to its present day condition as a neighborhood association. We also survey irrigation works, graveyards, and old stonework, and other regional peculiarities depending on the conditions of the area under survey. For example, during our survey of the mountain hamlet of Butsunamichō (twenty households), we attempted to do interviews with each individual household.
During the survey, along with the document analysis, interviews, and fieldwork that forms the core of our activities, we also perform additional tasks based on the conditions of the region. As part of the document survey, we record the conditions in which the documents were preserved, and create a list of each item in the collection.
One of the unique characteristics of the collaborative research survey is its reliance on the neighborhood associations. This allows us to incorporate a variety of different perspectives on the neighborhood and its history by revealing aspects of daily life that one cannot see from household documents, such as material from the neighborhood association, shrine organizations, and associations for managing irrigation. Additionally, our surveys do not make any division between the early modern or modern era, permitting us to analyze how the residents of a region lived their lives across the continuities and ruptures of different historical periods. The shrine organizations of different areas are particularly salient for this point. There are many shrine organization registers that have been preserved since the early modern era, including some that continue their activities to this day. Thus, focusing on the shrine organizations requires us to consider both the changes and continuities in daily life in the neighborhood region. At the same time, by conducting a multifaceted survey based on the neighborhood association, we are able to transcend the limitations of the viewpoints expressed in shrine organization documents.
2. Collaborative Research Surveys, Shrine Organizations, and Traditional Society
Each year, the Japanese History Research Group at Osaka City University puts out an academic journal titled Ichidai Nihonshi, wherein the results of that year’s research survey are published. This gives us a chance to rethink the results of our survey of shrine organizations, and I’d like to touch on a few points here.
The first point, which goes without saying, is that such organizations operated widely across the villages in what is now Izumi City. At the same time, there was no one pattern, with the number of members or the method of shrine organization governance differing from village to village.
The second point is that, the shrine organizations of the Edo period typically reflected the characteristics of the village Shinto shrine, and one member of the organization would be responsible for serving as head of the shrine. However, the activities of shrine organizations were varied, and we also see them participating in Buddhist rituals that involved the monk of the village temple. As we see in the example of Aokigawa Village, the members of the shrine organization would conduct Buddhist ceremonies at their temple. This was a time before the forcible separation of Shinto and Buddhism by the Meiji government, when the syncretism of the two religions was taken for granted. The Ushikami Festival, a children’s festival conducted in the seventh month, was observed in many villages, and there could be various different sub-groups within the larger shrine organization. The toshiyorichū (elders) were the core members, but the wakashū (youth organization) also occupied an important position.
Third, we often see a close relationship between the structure of village governance and the hierarchy of the shrine organization. The wealthy Fumiya family of Banchō village was leader of the village shrine organization and so also village headman, though from the mid-eighteenth century on the tendency reversed, as the position of high-ranking village officials within the shrine organization demonstrates the relative importance of village administration. In other words, the status of village officials became entangled with the position of elders within the shrine organization.
The fourth point is that, even in villages like Sakamoto Shinden, which emerged only in the second half of the seventeenth century, we see the creation of shrine organizations in the mid-eighteenth century. This village, which had no long-standing traditions upon which to build a shrine organization, nevertheless developed one in imitation of the customs prevalent in the region. However, the shrine organization in Sakamoto Shinden was not particularly intertwined with larger village affairs, and the membership can be thought of as having a special role distinct from village politics, which likely reflected Sakamoto’s characteristics as a more recently developed peasant community. Additionally, we should also point out that the Akamatsu family, who took responsibility for the development of Sakamoto Shinden and also acted as headmen, nevertheless occupied no special position within the village shrine organization.
Next, while keeping in mind the various unique patterns that village shrine organizations could take, I’d like to consider some of the characteristics universal to them all.
It is likely that many of the various shrine organizations had existed in one form or another since before the medieval period (Sakamoto Shinden is of course an exception because the village had no history prior to the early modern era). We know that Kurotori village possessed five shrine organizations centered on Anmei Temple. However, it is unclear in what matter these shrine organizations later connected to the layered structure of Kurotori village (with the three internal communities of Tsuji, Kami, and Bō) that appeared from the early modern period on. In Banchō village too, it is unmistakable that a shrine organization had existed since at least the late Warring States (1477-1572) era, but due to a decision in 1686, the village’s two organizations merged into one, thus making it conform to the early-modern pattern. This merger of the two shrine organizations can be thought of as one part of a larger process whereby Banchō village assumed its shape as an early modern village during the course of the seventeenth century.
All told, we can see the village structure of various communities taking shape during the seventeenth century, and can think of the ordering of the early modern village shrine organizations as but one part of this process.
During the late eighteenth to the early nineteenth century, we again see a dynamic shift in the village structure of communities in the Izumi city region, though this took the form of village agreements aimed at promoting frugality. Here, the regulation of village youth organizations forms a particularly important point. Within the shrine organizations, the elders occupied the most important ritual positions, but it was the younger members who were responsible for running festivals and the Bon-odori of late summer. Additionally, members of the youth organization often engaged in gambling, fought with the youth organizations of other villages, and in general became an object of concern for social order. We have many shrine organization rules from the nineteenth century, but these must be read against the background just described.
In Oda village, the target of the first collaborative research survey, we discovered a collection of documents related to the village shrine organization’s finances. Included was a list of shrine organization relations, running from the early nineteenth century through the Meiji period up to the early Taisho era (1912-1926), in which we see repeated attempts to revise the shrine organization with the goal of lowering expenses and economizing. Despite the great rupture that was the Meiji Restoration, the activities of the shrine organization reveal that it was largely unaffected by this larger political change. Thus, when considering regional society, and above all the village, we see a world of daily life operative within the village that was distinct from the level of political society. We can say that this reveals the need of consider both the official world of politics and the realm of daily life simultaneously.
In a similar fashion, we also have many examples of shrine organization registers, listing the names of all members, that remain unchanged in form from the early modern period through the changes of the Meiji Restoration. One example of this is the register from the shrine organization of Imazaike Village, which records the names of all members from 1715 to 1925. We also have the example of Hikochō, which left behind two such registers, one from 1846 to 1916, and another from 1917 to 1964. This same community of Hikochō also left behind lists of all participants in the New Year’s events for a number of years from 1871 on, and it is natural to assume there was some continuity from before the Meiji era.
However, the situation in rural society changed after the Taisho period of the early twentieth century. While one factor in this developed were larger social changes, one direct cause was the decision of the Meiji government to adopt a policy of consolidating rural village shrines into one single shrine for a larger administrative village unit. Due to this policy, many of the local Shinto shrines, which had been administered by the shrine organizations with histories stretching back to the early modern period, disappeared from the rural landscape. When the Sugawara shine was consolidated into the large Hakata shine in 1716, the Tenshin shrine organization that was attached to the shine was itself reorganized.
The lay organization of Harukigawa Village also saw structural changes in the early twentieth century (by then the town of Harukigawa). Modern Harukigawa left behind a collection of shrine organization documents with twenty-eight items, which included a list of rules from 1913 when the new organization was established, and a list which recorded new and retiring members for each year from 1913 to the present. From early modern Harukigawa, we have shrine organization rules from 1737 that were created by the main shrine group and a smaller branch group; from this, we can see that, in the first half of the eighteenth century, these two groups gathered together each month to conduct Jizō-kō Buddhist ceremonies. This practice continued into the Meiji period. Additionally, there was also a reorganization of the “shrine organization shares” which governed collective land ownership in the village. This system governed shrine organization owned land, and ensured that any profits from land sale or interest would be in the hands of those households that owned shares.
Now, even after the reorganization of the shrine organization shares, the shrine organization itself kept on apace. There were ten to eighteen members, and by the time of our collaborative research survey in the area, that number had increased to thirty. While the shrine organization had formerly listed members by the date they joined the organization, it now listed them by age. The Jizō-kō is conducted on the twenty-fourth of each month, though the group also participates in the Higan festivals in spring and autumn, which are the largest festivals of the year, as well as the Ebisu festival.
During the interviews we conducted during the research survey, we saw how in recent years the continued survival of the shrine organization was in serious doubt. There was no single pattern: some shrine organizations which had existed since the early modern period had, for the past thirty or forty years, existed in name only, while others had simply ceased to operate altogether. Meanwhile, the influence of the social changes wrought by the age of high economic growth (1960s-70s) on these shrine organizations was unmistakable. When we looked at the present condition of the shrine organizations of various neighborhood associations, we noticed that those organizations that left behind shared property also displayed a remarkable persistence (for example, those in Hakata and Hikochō). Similarly, the continuity of the shrine organizations was connected to the continued existence of the shrines and temples the group was responsible for, and to changes in the group members who performed rituals at neglected shrines.
From the end of the Warring States period to the early seventeenth century, as the “household” and “village” became the basic social unit of rural life throughout the Japanese Archipelago, many new cities came into existence, where the fundamental social unit of daily life became the chō, These villages and chō were given official recognition and placed within the larger political order of Japan, which led to the production of enormous amounts of official documents, which have been preserved in great quantities to this day. Meanwhile, across many different villages, shrine organizations of various expressions continued to operate.
Due to the reorganization of rural society after the Meiji Restoration, the villages and chō of Japan lost their official corporate status, which also resulted in an end to the impetus to produce these official documents. In this way, the Meiji Restoration had a tremendous influence on rural society. However, when we fix our gaze on the village shrine organizations, we see that they expressed remarkable continuity over the political rupture that was the Meiji Restoration. In other words, despite the changes at the level of political society, matters at the level of daily life continued on with a great degree of resilience.
Additionally, when we look at the shape of the village shrine organizations, the issue of “frugality” comes to the fore during the late eighteenth through the early nineteenth century. This development was directly related to the threat to the social order represented by the increasingly ostentatious lifestyles of the villages’ youth organizations, and to the spread of gambling. Although the shrine organizations experience great change in the early twentieth century due to the consolidation of rural shrines, they continued on until the era of the high economic growth in the second half of the twentieth century. Nevertheless, the shrine organizations were not immune to the tremendous social change wrought by this economic development, and they too are quickly vanishing.
If we take a long view of the social history of rural Japan, we can identify a “traditional society” that emerged during the late Warring States period with the establishment of the household and the village as the basic units of daily life, and that this traditional society continued until its dissolution in the late twentieth century, during the era of high economic growth (I call this view the dentō shakai-ron). Within these nearly four hundred years of traditional society, we can identify a “Long Nineteenth Century” that persisted from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth century, bridging over the political rupture represented by the Meiji Restoration. It is the collaborative research survey project, which aims to overcome an approach to history that is too focused on periodization, that has led us to taking this long view approach to rural history.
 For more on the activities of the Izumi City History, see Izumishi-shi hensan jigyō nijū shū nen kinen “Shishi dayori” hyaku sen (Izumishi-shi kiyō 26, 2017).
 There are twenty volumes of the Ichidai Nihonshi, published between 1998 and 2017.
 For more on Sakamoto Shinden, see Machida Tetsu, “Sakamoto Shinden no seiritsu to kōzō” in Kinsei Izumi no chiiki shakai kōzō (Dai 3-shō, Yamakawa Shuppansha, 2004).
 For more on the Oda Village shrine organization, see Machida Tetsu, “Oda no za ni tsuite” in Kinsei Izumi no chiiki shakai kōzō (Dai 2-shō) and Tsukada Takashi, “Odachō chōsa to Odachō kankei shiryō ni yosete, in Tsukada Takashi, ed., Mibunron kara rekishigaku o kangaeru, (Azekura Shobō, 2000).
 For more on the Harukigawa shrine organization see 2003 Nihonshi Kōdoku 3 (Tsukada Takashi tanto) “Sankan no mura no seikatsu: Harukigawachō no gōdōchōsa” (Ichidai Nihonshi 7, 2004) and Tsukada Takashi and Saitō Hiroko, “Sankan no mura no seikatsu” (Izumishi no rekishi 2: Matsuodani no rekishi to Matsuodera) Dai-2 bu Dai-3 shō, Izumishi, 2008).
 For more on this viewpoint, see my article “Suzuki Ryō-shi no kindaishi kenkyū ni manabu: Chiikishi kenkyū no tachiba kara,” Buraku Mondai Kenkyū 219, (2016).