Han system

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The han ( han?) or domain is the Japanese historical term for the estate of a warrior after the 12th century or of a daimyo in the Edo period and early Meiji period.[1]


In the Sengoku period, Hideyoshi Toyotomi caused a transformation of the han system. The feudal system based on land became an abstraction based on periodic cadastral surveys and projected agricultural yields.[2]

In Japan, a feudal domain was defined in terms of projected annual income. This was different from the feudalism of the West. For example, early Japanologists like Appert and Papinot made a point of highlighting the annual koku yields which were allocated for the Shimazu clan at Satsuma Domain since the 12th century.[3]

In 1690, the richest han was the Kaga Domain with slightly over 1 million koku.[4] It was in Kaga, Etchu and Noto provinces.

Edo period

In the Edo period, the domains of daimyo are defined in terms of kokudaka, not land area.[5] Imperial provincial subdivisions and shogunal domain subdivisions were complementary systems. For example, when the shogun ordered daimyo to make a census of its people or to make maps, the work was organized along the borders of the provincial kuni.[6]

Meiji period

In the Meiji period from 1869 to 1871, the title of daimyo in the han system was han-chiji (藩知事?) or chihanji (知藩事?).[7]

In 1871, almost all of the domains were disbanded; and the prefectures of Japan replaced the han system.[1] At the same time, the Meiji government created the Ryūkyū Domain which existed from 1872 through 1879.[8]

See also