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Bonds of trust : the origins of tanomi shōmon and the mechanisms of trust and cooperation in early modern Japan Orihara, Minami


This dissertation involves an examination on the social mechanisms of trust and cooperation in Tokugawa society from the unification in the early seventeenth century through the end of the samurai rule in the late nineteenth century. In this project, I examine nearly seven hundred Tokugawa-period agreements, namely Bonds of Trust (tanomi shōmon), to understand how they emerged and buttressed social cohesion in early modern Japan. They were written promises primarily used to elicit cooperation within a group of Tokugawa villagers when they stood in resistance to competing groups and samurai feudal rule. In my discussion that centers on their connections to ukebumi (“letters of acceptance”) and kishōmon (“divine oaths”)—the contracts of ancient origin which traditionally employed the threat of divine punishment as a deterrent to defection—I shed a light on the new function of these Bonds of Trust by examining how they rose in dominance over the covenant with kami and buddhas and emerged as a secular institution for meting out rewards over the course of Tokugawa period.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International