March 26, 2021

Research Note: Daimyo Processions and Satsuma’s Korean Village

Prof. Rebekah Clements has published a new article, “Daimyo Processions and Satsuma’s Korean Village: A Note on the Reliability of Local History Materials”, Japan Review 35 (2021), pp. 219-230,

This research note examines materials testifying to the postwar relationship between the Satsuma domain and the community of potters from Chosŏn Korea who were taken to Japan by the armies of Satsuma during Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s invasions of Korea (1592–1598). The village of Naeshirogawa, where most of these potters eventually settled, became an important center of ceramic production for Satsuma, and retained elements of Korean language and culture until the modern era. Although documents associated with the Korean potter community in Naeshirogawa have gradually begun to attract the attention of scholars, those which take the form of nenpu (annual records) are understood to have been compiled no earlier than the nineteenth century from unknown sources, and thus their reliability as sources of information on the late sixteenth to early eighteenth centuries has been questioned. In this note, Clements adopt a new approach to ascertaining the accuracy of the Naeshirogawa nenpu by cross-referencing them with the official records of the Satsuma domain, comparing in particular records of the visits made to Naeshirogawa by the daimyo on their way to and from Edo as part of the sankin kōtai system of alternate attendance. This analysis reveals that the nenpu are highly accurate. They are an important source of information on the practice of sankin kōtai at a local level, as well as on topics as diverse as ceramics, domain-village relations, and the symbolic use of Satsuma’s foreign connections.