Asian Ethnology 78-2 | article Bragging of Edo The Capital in the Eyes of a Provincial Doctor ("Edo jiman")

Gerald Groemer

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historical ethnography early modern Japan Edo customs food

Perhaps in the 1850s, a physician named Harada (pseudonym Banraidō Kiyūfuku) from Kii Province (Wakayama Prefecture) was sent to Edo on a turn of duty. During his stay in the shogun’s capital Harada composed what may be counted as an example of early modern urban ethnography. The author begins with a summary of the physical and built environment of the city and then moves to descriptions of the social world, commodities (especially foodstuffs), language, and customs and habits of the populace. Although it does not present a systematic treatment of the metropolis, his writing supplies an unusually discerning and detailed account of life in early modern urban Japan.