Prof. Mark Ravina recently shared a brief blog post in which he argues that the handful of especially large/powerful tozama han (e.g. Satsuma, Kaga, Chôshû) skew our understanding of what an average tozama han was like.
The archipelago was united under Tokugawa Ieyasu following the battle of Sekigahara in the year 1600, marking the beginning of the Tokugawa shogunate (from 1603) and of the Edo period of Japanese history. Lands were divided up into roughly four categories. Some land was tenryô, administered directly by the shogunate; some was given to shinpan daimyô, members of branch families of the Tokugawa. And some relatively very tiny bits of land throughout the country remained the possessions of the Imperial family, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, or the like. But the vast majority of the land was divided between fudai daimyô – those samurai clans which had sided with the Tokugawa, and could be trusted with territories closer to major cities & regions of importance in the center of the country – and the tozama daimyô, those who had opposed the Tokugawa at Sekigahara. Tozama daimyô are generally characterized as holding very large domains out on the edges of the archipelago (e.g. Satsuma in the far southwest, and Sendai in the northeast), too large, powerful, and entrenched for the shogunate to remove them by force from those territories, but at least representing less of a threat due to their great distance from Kyoto or Edo. That is, the idea that Satsuma isn’t going to be marching on Edo to overthrow the shogunate anytime soon (that wouldn’t happen for about 265 years).
Though this distinction between fudai and tozama is perhaps quite relevant and important for understanding the way the Tokugawa state was constructed, the way domains were handed out, etc. at the very beginning of the 17th century, by the 18th century, once the post-Sekigahara dust has settled, and those distinctions are politically perhaps not quite as relevant anymore, were tozama and fudai really all that different?
Ravina shows, via a set of graphs, that in fact the vast majority of fudai and tozama han (domains) had very similar kokudaka (a measure of agricultural production used to indicate the wealth/power of a domain), and that it’s only a handful of outliers that really work to skew the numbers to give us the impression of a dramatic difference. Perhaps we ought to stop thinking of Kaga, Satsuma, or Sendai1 as the standard model or example of what a typical tozama han was like, and instead consider those exceptions, taking places like Uwajima han (Shikoku, Date clan, 70-100,000 koku) as our model for a “typical” tozama domain instead.
(Incidentally, Ravina uses the term kusadaka 草高 instead of the more common kokudaka 石高. I looked it up, and kusadaka does appear to mean “the total annual agricultural production of a territory,” just as kokudaka is meant to represent. Is anyone familiar with this term? How is it different? Is it perhaps that kusadaka considers the actual yield, while kokudaka is a more artificial ranking applied to domains?)
1) Kaga, Satsuma, and Sendai were the three largest domains, each with over 600,000 koku, while the average for tozama daimyo was 127,000. If the outlying top ten domains were dropped out of the calculation, I wouldn’t be surprised if the average dropped down to around 49,000 – the average size of a fudai domain.