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Desyatnikova K.A. Revisiting a collective role of Edo residents and authorities Печать E-mail
29.03.2015 г.

Revisiting a collective role of Edo residents and authorities in the process of turning the space into a "famous place" (meisho) through the example of Oji Inari Shrine and Asuka Mountain

Desyatnikova K.A.

Talking about occurrence of new «famous places» (meisho) in Edo one should remember that it was a complex process divisible into several stages. Decades were a common time period for new places and objects to be added to numerous sightseeing (meishoki, meishozue etc.) guidebooks from the time when the construction works were finished. It can be said that the places designated by authorities only as infrastructure facilities (such as bridges, roads, dams, etc.) appeared in the city guides after the residents had filled it with new special meaning "making" it famous.

Being a relatively new city built from scratch by the Tokugawa shoguns, Edo had very few ancient meisho. However, during the Edo period as the number of residents, pilgrims and tourists increased a new trend of creating new places for people entertainment and attraction of more tourists occurred. But it does not mean that the shoguns made any special effort in order to set up new popular sights. Rather it was an initiative of the residents (especially those in trade and commerce) suggesting some new way of making use of a certain place that would either be approved or rejected by the authorities. After all, it was private press that published numerous guidebooks but never the official one. Starting from the first third of the 18th century pilgrimage to holy sites (Ise jingo, etc.) was allowed by the authorities and it was the only official occasion for ordinary people to move around the country and simple folk used these journeys to see other places (including Edo) on their way to the pilgrimage site. This made Edo city sightseeing guidebooks more popular, they were even purchased as souvenirs (omiyage). Besides, the residents of Edo and neighboring towns frequently made one-day pilgrimage to several shrines located nearby (jisha meguri). With the growth of number of pilgrims positive influence of guidebooks on welfare of the described area became obvious. That is why we may talk of some sort of guidebook manipulation that took place as shop owners were trying to get shrines neighboring to their shops mentioned in another upcoming guidebook (or list of shrines for meguri).

The Japanese researchers still have no common point of view on how guidebook objects were selected (名所の選び方) or on guidebook compilation criteria (名所の構成要件). Content analysis of numerous guidebooks show that the «support point» (力点) obviously was a historical component (名所の歴史性), i.e. an event (legend, fable, etc.) that turned a place into a meisho. However, a more simple and practical component was also added, for example market places so loved by the people in front of the shrine on special occasion days.

In 2006 Tsukamoto Akihiro studied some Kyoto guidebooks published during the Edo period and created a spatial distribution database of the objects listed in the guidebooks using GIS (Geographic information system). His research showed that the guidebooks dedicated to famous scenery sites had more influence on the spacing of the objects thus shaping a "core" of city sights (核となった名所) and paving the way to a continuing fame not only for the meisho itself (核の名所) but for the neighboring objects (付属的な名所) as well.

Since it is clear that the methods of "sightseeing guidebook policy" in Edo were shaped and developed in a way similar to (or copying) Kyoto experience, we can assume that the same cases could take place in Edo, too.

One of them is Oji-Asukayama district. This place was known as location of Oji Inari Shrine which was very popular with Edo residents. That is how the place appeared in guidebooks of the early Edo period. During the rule of the 8th shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune (1716 -1745) alleys of sakura trees were planted to create more space for people to admire sakura blossoms (that the city lacked). However, it would not be correct to say that the shogun "created" a new meisho. It would be better to say that his order to plant the trees led to appearance of new sakura alleys located close to the shrine which was popular with the residents. It became a meisho thanks to the townspeople who used to come there, the traders who got licenses to start their teahouses, shops, etc., the publishers who included this place in their guidebooks as 桜の花見の飛鳥山, and the pilgrims who purchased these guidebooks, etc.

The process of occurrence and change of city sights (famous places) is natural and objective. As long as the Japanese researchers have not found the object selection criteria for Edo guidebooks we can conclude that there was no specific method of meisho creation, and the process was variative and diversified.
Последнее обновление ( 10.04.2015 г. )
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