The han or domain
historical term for the estate of a warrior after the 12th century or of a daimyō
in the Edo period
(1603–1868) and early Meiji period
[Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Han" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 283.]
In the Sengoku period
(1467 – 1603), Toyotomi Hideyoshi caused a transformation of the han system. The feudal system based on land became an abstraction based on periodic cadastral
surveys and projected agricultural yields.
[Jeffrey Mass and William B. Hauser. (1987). The Bakufu in Japanese History, p. 150.]
In Japan, a feudal domain was defined in terms of projected annual income. This was different from the feudalism of the West. For example, early such as Georges Appert and Edmond Papinot made a point of highlighting the annual koku yields which were allocated for the Shimazu clan at Satsuma Domain since the 12th century.
[Georges Appert. (1888). "Shimazu" in Ancien Japon, pp. 77; compare Edmond Papinot. (1906). Dictionnaire d’histoire et de géographie du Japon; Papinot, (2003). Nobiliare du Japon, p. 55; retrieved 2013-3-23.]
In 1690, the richest han was the Kaga Domain with slightly over 1 million koku.
[Conrad Totman. (1993). Early Modern Japan, p. 119.] It was in Kaga Province, Etchū and Noto Province provinces.
In the Edo period
, the domains of daimyōs
were defined in terms of kokudaka
, not land area.
[Elison, George and Bardwell L. Smith (1987). Warlords, Artists, & Commoners: Japan in the Sixteenth Century, p. 17.]
Imperial provincial subdivisions and shogunal domain subdivisions were complementary systems. For example, when the shogun ordered daimyōs
to make a census of its people or to make maps, the work was organized along the borders of the provincial kuni
[Roberts, Luke S. (2002). Mercantilism in a Japanese Domain: the merchant origins of economic nationalism in 18th-century Tosa, p. 6]
In the Meiji period
from 1869 to 1871, the title of daimyō
in the han system was han-chiji or chihanji.
[Lebra, Takie S. (1995). Above the Clouds: Status Culture of the Modern Japanese Nobility, p. 29]
In 1871, almost all of the domains were disbanded; and the prefectures of Japan replaced the han system.
At the same time, the Meiji government created the Ryūkyū Domain which existed from 1872 through 1879. [Matsumura, Wendy. (2007). Becoming Okinawan: Japanese Capitalism and Changing Representations of Okinawa, p. 38.]
List of Han
Abolition of the han system