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Han (藩, "domain") is a Japanese historical term for the estate of a in the (1603–1868) and early (1868–1912).Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Han" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 283. Han or Bakufu-han (daimyo domain)

(2023). 9781317870852, Routledge.
served as a system of administrative divisions of Japan alongside the provinces until they were abolished in the 1870s.


Pre-Edo period
The concept of han originated as the personal estates of prominent warriors after the rise of the Kamakura Shogunate in 1185, which also saw the rise of and the noble warrior class in Japan. This situation existed for 400 years during the Kamakura Shogunate (1185–1333), the brief Kenmu Restoration (1333–1336), and the Ashikaga Shogunate (1336–1573). Han became increasingly important as administrative divisions as subsequent Shoguns stripped the Imperial provinces (kuni) and their officials of their legal powers.

Edo period
Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the preeminent warlord of the late (1467–1603), caused a transformation of the han system during his reforms of the feudal structure of Japan. Hideyoshi's system saw the han become an based on periodic surveys and projected yields, rather than delineated territory. and William B. Hauser. (1987). The Bakufu in Japanese History, p. 150. Hideyoshi died in 1598 and his young son Toyotomi Hideyori was displaced by after the Battle of Sekigahara in October 1600, but his new feudal system was maintained after Ieyasu established the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1603. The han belonged to , the powerful samurai feudal lords, who governed them as personal property with autonomy as a of the Tokugawa . Ieyasu's successors further refined the system by introducing methods that ensured control of the daimyo and the imperial court. For instance, relatives and retainers were placed politically and militarily strategic districts while potentially hostile daimyo were transferred to unimportant geographic locations or their estates confiscated.
(2023). 9780195331264, Oxford University Press.
They were also occupied with public works that kept them financially drained as the daimyo paid for the bakufu projects.

Unlike feudalism, the value of a Japanese feudal domain was now defined in terms of projected annual income rather than geographic size. Han were valued for using the system which determined value based on output of in , a of volume considered enough rice to feed one person for one year.Elison, George and Bardwell L. Smith (1987). Warlords, Artists, & Commoners: Japan in the Sixteenth Century, p. 17. A daimyo was determined by the Tokugawa as a lord heading a han assessed at 10,000 koku (50,000 ) or more, and the output of their han contributed to their prestige or how their wealth were assessed.

(1995). 9780520086296, University of California Press.
(2023). 9783039107827, Peter Lang.
Early such as and made a point of highlighting the annual koku yields which were allocated for the at since the 12th century.. (1888). "Shimazu" in Ancien Japon, pp. 77; compare . (1906). Dictionnaire d’histoire et de géographie du Japon; Papinot, (2003). Nobiliare du Japon, p. 55; retrieved 23 March 2013. The Shogunal han and the Imperial provinces served as complementary systems which often worked in tandem for administration. When the Shogun ordered the daimyos to make a of their people or to make , the work was organized along the borders of the provinces.Roberts, Luke S. (2002). Mercantilism in a Japanese Domain: the merchant origins of economic nationalism in 18th-century Tosa, p. 6 As a result, a han could overlap multiple provinces which themselves contained sections of multiple han. In 1690, the richest han was the , located in the provinces of , Etchū and , with slightly over 1 million koku. (1993). Early Modern Japan, p. 119.

Meiji period
In 1868, the Tokugawa Shogunate was overthrown in the Meiji Restoration by a coalition of pro-Imperial samurai in reaction to the . One of the main driving forces of the anti-Tokugawa movement was support for and in Japan. From 1869 to 1871, the new Meiji government sought to abolish feudalism in Japan, and the title of daimyo in the han system was altered to 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 replaced with a new Meiji system of prefectures which were directly subordinate to the national government in .

However, in 1872, the Meiji government created the after Japan formally the , a of the of since 1609.Matsumura, Wendy. (2007). Becoming Okinawan: Japanese Capitalism and Changing Representations of Okinawa, p. 38. The Ryūkyū Domain was governed as a han headed by the Ryukyuan monarchy until it was finally abolished and became Okinawa Prefecture in March 1879.

See also


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