Tanuma Okitsugu


. - - - PERSONS - ABC - LIST of this BLOG - - - .

Tanuma Okitsugu 田沼意次

(September 11, 1719 – August 25, 1788) - (1719 - 1788)

He is quite two-faced, either seen a corrupt official or as a saviour of a dismal economic situation . . .

- quote
a rōjū (senior counselor) of the Tokugawa shogunate who introduced monetary reform. He was also a daimyo, and ruled the Sagara han. He used the title Tonomo-no-kami.

His regime is often identified with rampant corruption and huge inflation of currency. In Tenmei 4 (1784), Okitsugu's son, the wakadoshiyori (junior counselor) Tanuma Okitomo, was assassinated inside Edo Castle. Okitomo was killed in front of his father as both were returning to their norimono after a meeting of the Counselors of State had broken up. Okitomo was killed by Sano Masakoto, a hatamoto. The involvement of senior figures in the bakufu was suspected, but only the assassin himself was punished. The result was that the Tanuma-initiated, liberalizing reforms within the bakufu and the relaxation of the strictures of sakoku were blocked.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !


- quote -
Tanuma Okitsugu
Tairô (1767/7-1786/8/27)
Tanuma Okitsugu served as Tairô from 1767 to 1786.
Though Tanuma is generally remembered as a terribly corrupt official, John Whitney Hall emphasizes his contributions to the expansion of trade through expansion of government control over it, going so far as to suggest that his programs might have led Japan towards industrializing earlier.
Hall places the blame for Japan's economic and military weakness in the 19th century on the conservative policies of Tanuma's successor, Matsudaira Sadanobu.

As Tairô
Tanuma's time as Tairô is generally associated with political corruption, especially in the form of bribes, and with rampant inflation, and widespread moral decay.
In the 1770s,
Tanuma provided Tsushima han with sizable monetary loans and grants on a number of occasions, eventually putting into place an annual grant of 12,000 ryô which helped the domain accommodate for the decline in the Korea trade caused by continued debasement of silver coinage and expansion of domestic production of ginseng and other goods which drove down the demand for imports; the domain would continue to be paid this grant every year until 1862.

In 1785, he established clearinghouses in Hakodate, Edo, Osaka, and Shimonoseki which oversaw the collection and transportation of marine products to Nagasaki for export; as with similar steps taken in other industries where the shogunate established or reorganized za trade associations, this did not push private merchants out of the business, but rather made them into something akin to government contractors, placing the operations of that business under more direct government oversight, in the hopes of stemming fluctuations, smuggling, and other problems.

The 1783 eruption of Mt. Asama, combined with the nearly ten-year-long Great Tenmei Famine, were widely seen as symbols that the country was in need of serious change and a return to virtuous leadership. Tanuma was ousted from power in 1786, and replaced as Tairô by Matsudaira Sadanobu the following year.

He is buried at the Zen temple Mannen-zan Shôrin-ji in the Komagome neighborhood of Tokyo.
- source : samurai archives -


Tanuma Okitsugu, 1719-1788, forerunner of modern Japan
John Whitney Hall

This is a study of Tanuma Okitsugu, the most powerful political figure in Japan during the quarter century between 1760-1786. The book also provides a descriptive history of mid-eighteenth-century Japan.
- source : books.google.co.jp -


Tanuma looked at the pond in his garden and mumbled:
"It would be nice to have some fish swim here!"
And when he came back in the afternoon, the pond was full of the most beautiful koi goldfish - gifts (bribes) from people who depended on his support.

Tanuma got a large gift parcel with the inscription :
"A Doll from Kyoto". When he opened it, it was a living Maiko girl with splendid robed and . . .

. shimonya 四文屋 "Four Mon Shop" .
They begun sprouting up everywhere during the period of Tanuma.
Small shops in Edo where everything cost just one coin, the "Four Mon Coin".
That was the beginning of our 100 Yen Shop, the One Dollar Shop, the One Euro Shop.
Other cheap items in Edo were multiplied with four.


He supported the trade with foreign countries through the port of Nagasaki, especially
tawaramono 俵物 "goods packed in straw bags"
Nagasaki tawaramono yakusho 長崎俵物役所

- quote -
In the era of Edo, export goods from Nagasaki were such as dried sea cucumbers, dried abalones, dried fins of sharks that were all packed with straw rice bags, or tawara.
Foreign trade payment had been dealt with gold, silver and cotton at that time.
An outflow of these metals from Japan was so immense that a part of its trade payment was replaced with stuffs packed with straw rice bags called tawaramono.
The club was established to gather tawaramono for the convenience of those who were concerned in the first year of Enkyo (1744), but it often moved until being settled at this site in the 6th year of Anei (1777).
Later it was run exclusively by the shogunate but it didn't work well.
The club remained until the end of the shogunate.
Osaka, 2-15, 2-chome, Kitahama, Chuo-ku
- source : www.city.osaka.lg.jp -

- tawaramono sanpin 俵物三品: The three best were
iri namako 煎海鼠(いりなまこ/いりこ)- dried sea cucumbers
hoshi awabi 乾鮑(干鮑(ほしあわび))- dried abalones
fukahire 鱶鰭(ふかひれ)- dried sharks fins

- quote -
Sino-Japanese Interaction via Chinese Junks in the Edo Period
Matsuura Akira
In Japan as well, increased production of these three products — dried sea cucumber, dried abalone, and shark’s fin, collectively called tawaramono or hyōmotsu (俵物 goods in straw bags) — was actively promoted. At the beginning of the Guangxu years (1875–1908), He Ruzhang, appointed as plenipotentiary to Japan, wrote in his Shidong zaji (Miscellany of an Envoy to Japan),
“Many Chinese merchants take raw cotton and white sugar, and return with various marine products such as sea cucumbers and dried abalone.”
He Ruzhang’s note clearly underscores the importance of these products in China even after the Edo era . . .
- Read the full article PDF file, 14 pages :
- source : Matsuura Akira -

Through the tawawamono and payment in 銅 bronze instead of gold he managed to deal with the huge trade deficit of his times.
He founded the "Bronze Bank" dooza 銅座 in Osaka to deal with trade payments.

Since silver was rare in Japan and not enough to print silver coins for trade, he started the import of silver from China and then Holland. This silver also helped to grease the trade within Japan.
Gold was used as payment in Edo (Eastern Japan, whith more gold mines) whereas silver was used as payment in Osaka (Western Japan, with more silver mines). And the poor people used the bronze coins to make their payments.

- - - - - Monetary reform of 1772
nanryoonishugin なんりょうにしゅぎん 南鐐二朱銀 Nanryo Nishu Gin
silver coins introduced by Tanuma

nishububan 貮朱之歩判
nishuban 貮朱判
meiwa nanryoonishugin 明和南鐐二朱銀

- quote -
In the latter half of the 18th century, the demand for small-denomination currency increased due to expanded production of commercial crops in local villages. The Tokugawa Shogunate government issued silver coins (Meiwa Nanryo Nishu-gin <2-shu-gin>) with denominations based on gold coin units. Thus, the silver coins eventually became supplementary currencies of gold coins.
Toward the end of the Edo period, recoinages (Bunsei and Tenpo recoinages) were often carried out to finance the budget deficits of the Shogunate government, which led to chronic inflation. After the re-opening of international trade at the end of the Edo period, Japan experienced a huge outflow of gold coins overseas, and the Man’en recoinage, which was carried out to stop this outflow, caused further inflation, resulting in confusion of the nation’s monetary system toward the Meiji Restoration.
- source : BOJ Currency Museum -

. Coins (zeni, kozeni (銭、小銭) and Japanese money .

. kabunakama, kabu nakama 株仲間 merchant guild, merchant coalition
za 座 trade guilds, industrial guilds, artisan guilds .

Tanuma encouraged the kabunakama system in Edo.
Roju Tanuma 老中 田沼意次 - 株仲間の奨励


. satoo 砂糖 Sato - History of Japanese sugar .
encouraged the trade of white European sugar via the merchants of Nagasaki.
He also introduced the plant satokibi , first grown at his request at a Nichiren temple, the Ikegami Honmon-Ji 池上本門寺 in the South of Edo. From there its growth spread to other suitable areas of Japan.

. koorai ninjin 高麗人参 Panax ginseng .
around 1760 encouraged their planting in Japan. He offered positions as "ministers" (bakushin 幕臣) to the scholars of kanpo 漢方 Chinese medicine plants.
Japanese ginseng 東洋参 (Panax japonicus)

With his great interest in these things, Tanuma was most probably influenced by the great

. Hiraga Gennai 平賀源内  (1728 - 80) .


A 狂歌 Kyoka parody poem about Tanuma

白河の 清き流れに住みかねて もとの田沼の にごり恋しき
Shirakawa no kiyoki nagare ni sumikanete moto no tanuma no nigori koishiki

River Shirakawa is shorthand for Matsudaira Sadanobu.
tanuma, lit. fields and swamps.
古河の清き流れに住みかねて もとの田沼ぞ今は恋しき

We can't get used to the clean flow of Shirakawa -
We rather long for the dirty puddles of fields and swamps.

- quote -
Matsudaira Sadanobu 松平定信 (1759 - 1829)
Japanese daimyo of the mid-Edo period, famous for his financial reforms which saved the Shirakawa Domain, and the similar reforms he undertook during his tenure as chief senior councilor (rōjū shuza; 老中首座) of the Tokugawa Shogunate, from 1787 to 1793.
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !


増補版 通史 田沼意次 - 2013

The grave of the Tanuma family has been destroyed by the Great Tohoku Earthquake in 2011.

- reference : TBS - Edo no Susume -


. senryuu, senryū 川柳 Senryu in Edo .

- - - - - The most famous senryu in the times of Tanuma :

yakunin no ko wa niginigi o yoku oboe

the son of an official
learns quite easily
to grab anything

Taking bribes became the rule of the day in the time of Tanuma.

yakunin no honeppoi no wa choki ni nose

a serious official
is best invited
to take a choki boat trip

. choki 猪牙 / chokibune 猪牙舟 water taxi, river taxi .
to the Yoshiware pleasure quarters.
Once an official has learned to enjoy (and spent his money) at the pleasure quarters, he can be kept with more bribes to indulge more and so on . . .


- Reference - Japanese -

- Reference - English -

- #tanumaokitsugu -

Join the friends on facebook !

. - - - PERSONS - ABC - LIST of this BLOG - - - .



1 comment:

Gabi Greve said...

Ginza 銀座
Ginza - Silver Guild za (monopoly office or guild).