Episode 514 – The Structure of Medieval Japan

This week, we’re taking a look at some of the economic and social structures of Kamakura period Japan in order to answer the question: just what makes medieval Japan so…medieval?

Also, I’ll be taking next week off for the New Year. See you all in 2024!


Oyama, Kyohei, “Medieval shoen“, Keiji Nagahara, “The Medieval Peasant”, and Kozo Yamamura, “The Growth of Commerce in Medieval Japan” in The Cambridge History of Japan, Vol III: Medieval Japan

Tonomura, Hitomi, “Gender Relations in the Age of Violence,” Thomas Kierstead, “Rise of the Peasantry,” and Ethan Segal, “The Medieval Economy” in Japan Emerging: Premodern History to 1850

Pearson, Richard, et al. “Medieval Japanese Trading Towns: Sakai and Tosaminato.” Available online here


The traditional 60 provinces of Japan. The upper left of this map has a nice detail of the Kanto provinces. Each of these provinces would, during the Kamakura period, have both a kokushi (civilian governor) and shugo (military one).
Part of the Honen Shonin Eden. Unfortunately, from what I can see there are no complete scans of the whole text, so I couldn’t find the farming scene specifically (this is from earlier in the text, when Honen is still in Kyoto).