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Chugen

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  • Japanese: 中間 (chuugen)

Chûgen, literally meaning "in between," was a class of very low-ranking retainers in the Edo period, who held a societal status below that of samurai but above the standard commoner. People in this position typically served as attendants to samurai, and were not permitted to wear swords or to bear family names, but were usually able (at least towards the end of the Edo period) to buy their way up to full sword-wearing, name-bearing samurai status.

Chûgen might be typically given two ryô per year, plus room and board, in return for performing tasks such as guarding gates, chopping firewood, cleaning, and performing repairs to the samurai's house.

References

  • Craig, Teruko (trans.). Musui's Story: The Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai. University of Arizona Press, 1988. p159n2.
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