Crossing Boundaries in Tokugawa Society

Suzuki Bokushi, a Rural Elite Commoner


Suzuki Bokushi (1770-1842) was an elite villager in Echigo, a snowy province of Japan. Crossing Boundaries in Tokugawa Society presents a vivid picture of the life and world of this rural commoner, focusing on his interaction with the changing social and cultural environment of the late Tokugawa period (1603-1868).
Bokushi's life and texts challenge notions of the rigidity of social boundaries between the urban and the rural, between social statuses, and between cultural and intellectual communities. However, his activities were still restrained by the external environment because of geographical remoteness, infrastractural limitations, political restrictions, cultural norms and the complexities of human relationships. His life exemplifies both the potentiality and the restraint of his historical moment for a well-placed member of the rural elite.

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Takeshi Moriyama, PhD is Senior Lecturer in Japanese at Murdoch University, Australia. His publications include 'Communicating Provincials: The Correspondence Network of Suzuki Bokushi' (Japanese Studies, 29:1, 2009), and 'Unhappiness in Retirement: "Isho" of Suzuki Bokushi' (Early Mondern Japan, 18, 2010).
All interested in Japanese literary, cultural and social history, Asian societies in the 18th-19th centuries, and biographical studies of ordinary people, and anyone concerned with centre-periphery social interactions in the pre-modern world.