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Goningumi

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  • Japanese: 五人組 (gonin gumi)

Goningumi, or "five person groups," were Edo period groupings of households who were considered mutually responsible for the lawful and orderly behavior of the whole group, and for collecting machi iriyô taxes, among other activities. They were the smallest, lowest, level of urban administration, and reported to nanushi (neighborhood headmen), who in turn reported to the machi doshiyori (town elders), assistants to the Edo machi bugyô (Edo City Magistrates).

The members of a goningumi were typically homeowners, landlords, or their agents - i.e. the heads of households. Each paid taxes known as machi iriyô or machi nyûyô in an amount proportionate to the frontage (i.e. size) of their property, and then helped distribute the resulting pool of funds to help pay for fire protection; the operating costs of holding local festivals; maintenance of waterworks, guard towers, gatehouses, and the like; and so forth.

The goningumi practice was implemented in the Ryûkyû Kingdom as well, beginning around the 1630s.

References

  • Katô Takashi, "Governing Edo," in James McClain (ed.), Edo & Paris, Cornell University Press (1994), 56.
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