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Kenzanya

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  • Japanese: 献残屋 (kenzanya), 見参屋 (kenzanya)

Kenzanya were shops in Edo where daimyô and other samurai could purchase ceremonial objects to formally present to their lords or to others. Among these ceremonial goods were black-lacquered wooden swords, described in many documents as tsukuri tachi ("made swords" or "false swords"), which daimyô were obliged to present to the shogun on various regular occasions. Since the shogunate received hundreds or thousands of these ceremonial wooden swords on a regular basis, it regularly gave them to the kenzanya, to be purchased and presented by the daimyô once again.

Though in the early Edo period it was common practice for daimyô to present the shogun with antique swords, often by famous smiths or with some notable provenance, Shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune issued edicts in 1722 aimed at economizing the expensive practices of ritual gift exchange, and dramatically reduced the number of occasions when the presentation of a real sword was expected, and the range of daimyô who would be expected to do so. Those edicts also reduced the amount of silver to be presented by the daimyô by ninety percent, and reduced the amount of textiles and certain other goods to be presented similarly. Following the imposition of these reforms, while the most elite daimyô continued to present the shogun with real swords on various occasions, otherwise, the presentation of lacquered wooden ceremonial swords came to dominate, and the institution of the kenzanya grew in importance.

References

  • Fukai Masaumi 深井雅海, Tôken to kakutsuke 刀剣と格付け, Tokyo: Yoshikawa kôbunkan (2018), 112-116.
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