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Communicating Provincials: The Correspondence Network of Suzuki Bokushi (1770–1842)

Moriyama, T. (2009) Communicating Provincials: The Correspondence Network of Suzuki Bokushi (1770–1842). Japanese Studies, 29 (1). pp. 47-63.

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The article extends existing analyses of communication networks in late Tokugawa Japan; it undertakes a case study of the uses a member of the rural elite made of these new opportunities to maintain a network of personal contacts across significant distances. Suzuki Bokushi lived in Echigo Province and is known for his contribution to the writing of Hokuetsu seppu, a well-known account of the region. The personal network he cultivated comprised practitioners of a wide range of arts and collectors of their work, in both Edo and numerous provincial locations. Bokushi himself was a haikai poet and actively involved in the hisseki (holograph) collection boom which increasingly linked amateurs and professionals from the end of the 1700s. Examination of the evidence reveals an ongoing relaxation of the social divisions that were based in part on distance between centre and periphery in Edo period life. The establishment and consolidation of hikyaku commercial courier services linking Echigo with Edo between the late 1810s and early 1830s made a major contribution to that relaxation.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: Asia Research Centre
School of Arts
Publisher: Routledge
Copyright: Routledge
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