The Hinin Associations in Osaka, 1600-1868

  • Christian M. Hermansen Asian Research Centre


The pre-modern Japanese society was made up of status groups, and among those of lowest regard was one called hinin. People who ended up as hinin were marginalized, yet in the early modern period their life was as well regulated as the rest of society. The focus of this article is on the organization of registered hinin in Osaka from 1600 to 1868. It will demonstrate how the hierarchical structuration influenced the hinin community, and it will argue that the organization of hinin gradually gave the power also over the authorities, so an observer by the middle of the nineeenth century could ask whether the organized hinin and the hinin 'living under the barns' were indeed the same sort of people, and concluded that he did not think so.