Japan's Pre-Modern Urbanism

James McClain

in The Oxford Handbook of Cities in World History

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780199589531
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Japan's Pre-Modern Urbanism


This article discusses the growth and development of Japan's early modern cities. The fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries saw urban expansion and the establishment of new urban areas. After the end of the sixteenth-century civil wars the Japanese urban system was restructured with the creation of a new administrative capital, Edo (Tokyo), which was home to over a million inhabitants by the 1720s, the rise of important provincial castle towns, and the advent of many market towns. At the start of the eighteenth century the urbanization rate may have reached over 15 percent. Here little impetus came from overseas trade (strictly regulated from the 1630s) but from agrarian innovation, commercial integration, infrastructure investment, and political stability.

Keywords: Japanese cities; early modern cities; urbanization; Edo; urban system; provincial castle towns; market towns; agrarian innovation; commercial integration; infrastructure

Article.  8399 words. 

Subjects: History ; Asian History

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