Established in 1974, the Journal of Japanese Studies features original, analytically rigorous articles from across the humanities and social sciences, including comparative and transnational scholarship in which Japan plays a major part

Li 50:1


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

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.

Volume 50, Number 1 (Winter 2024)
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