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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Yedo was infested by vagabonds


ENGRAVING:

SANNO FESTIVAL OF TOKYO IN EARLY DAYS

SUMPTUARY REGULATIONS

Convinced that the most important step towards economic improvement was the practice of frugality, Sadanobu caused rules to be compiled and issued which dealt with almost every form of expenditure. He himself made a practice of attending at the castle wearing garments of the coarsest possible materials, and the minute character of his ordinances against extravagance almost taxes credulity.

Thus, he forbade the custom of exchanging presents between official colleagues; ordered that everyone possessing an income of less than ten thousand koku should refrain from purchasing anything new, whether clothing, utensils, or furniture; interdicted the wearing of white robes except on occasions of ceremony; ordained that wedding presents should henceforth be reduced by one-half, advised that dried lobsters should be substituted for fresh fish in making presents; prohibited the wearing of brocade or embroidered silk by ladies not of the highest class; enjoined simplicity in costumes for the no dance, in children's toys, in women's pipes, or tobacco-pouches, and in ladies' hairpins or hairdress; forbade gold lacquer in any form except to delineate family crests; limited the size of dolls; vetoed banquets, musical entertainments, and all idle pleasures except such as were justified by social status, and actually went to the length

of ordering women to dress their own hair, dispensing entirely with professional Hairdressers, who were bade to change their occupation for tailoring or laundry work.

This remarkable statesman laboured for the ethical improvement of his countrymen as well as for their frugality of life. In 1789, we find him legislating against the multiplication of brothels, and, two years later, he vetoed mixed bathing of men and women. One of the fashions of the time was that vassals left in charge of their lords' mansions in Yedo used to organize mutual entertainments by way of promoting good-fellowship, but in reality for purposes of dissipation. These gatherings were strictly interdicted. Simultaneously with the issue of this mass of negative legislation, Sadanobu took care to bestow rewards and publish eulogies. Whoever distinguished himself by diligent service, by chastity, by filial piety, or by loyalty, could count on honourable notice.

THE KWANSEI VAGABONDS

During the Kwansei era (1789-1800), Yedo was infested by vagabonds, who, having been deprived of their livelihood by the famine during the years immediately previous, made a habit of going about the town in groups of from three to five men committing deeds of theft or incendiarism. Sadanobu, acting on the advice of the judicial officials, dealt with this evil by establishing a house of correction on Ishikawa Island. There homeless vagrants were detained and provided with work, those ignorant of any handicraft being employed as labourers. The inmates were fed and clothed by the Government, and set free after three years, their savings being handed to them to serve as capital for some occupation. The institution was placed under the care of Hasegawa Heizo, five hundred bags of rice and five hundred ryo being granted annually by the Bakufu for its support.


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