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Danzaemon

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  • Other Names: 穢多頭 (eta-gashira)
  • Japanese: 弾左衛門 (Danzaemon)

Danzaemon was the name taken by the head of the eta outcastes in the Kantô region during the Edo period. The name is believed to have been passed down in a hereditary fashion, or at least to have been continuously held down through the generations.

The Danzaemon held some degree of direct authority (and responsibility) over the outcaste districts of the city of Edo, and of twelve surrounding provinces under his leadership, including the eight provinces of the Kantô, Izu, Kai, Suruga, and parts of Mutsu province, as well as a lesser degree of authority, and responsibility, over all the outcaste districts (buraku) throughout Japan.

The history of the position, or of the first man to hold it, are unclear, but it is assumed that the first Danzaemon was granted this role by the Tokugawa shogunate. The position seemed to have become definite by the mid-17th century, and from the mid-18th century onwards, the geographical extent of the Danzaemon's authority gradually expanded.

Thirteen men are believed to have held the title over the course of the Edo period, ending with Dannaiki, or Naoki, who was stripped of the role - and of the status, authority, and responsibilities associated with it - around the time of the Meiji Restoration.

Men known in each generation as Kuruma Zenshichi, Zensaburô, Shôemon, and Kuhee served similar roles as kashira for the hinin populations of Asakusa, Fukagawa, Shinagawa, and Yamanote respectively.[1]

References

  • "Danzaemon." Hyakka-jiten Mypedia 百科事典マイペディア. Hitachi Solutions, 2010.
  • "Danzaemon." Sekai daihyakka jiten 世界大百科事典. Hitachi Solutions, 2012.
  1. Yoshida Nobuyuki, "Tôkaidô Yotsuya Kaidan to rekishi sekai," talk given at Early Modern Studies Workshop, University of Southern California, 27 April 2019.
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