Kyoho reforms

The Kyōhō reforms (享保の改革 kyōhō no kaikaku?) were an array of economic policies introduced by the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1736 Japan.[1] These reforms were instigated by the eighth Tokugawa shogun of Japan, Tokugawa Yoshimune, encompassing the first twenty years of his shogunate.[2]

The reforms were aimed at making the shogunate financially solvent. Because of the tensions between Confucian ideology and the economic reality of Tokugawa Japan (Confucian principles that money was defiling vs. the necessity for a cash economy), Yoshimune found it necessary to shelve certain Confucian principles that were hampering his reform process.

The Kyoho reforms included an emphasis on frugality, as well as the formation of merchant guilds that allowed greater control and taxation. Alternate attendance (sankin kōtai) rules were relaxed, and the ban on western books (minus those relating or referring to Christianity) was lifted.

This reform movement was followed by three others during the Edo period: the Kansei reforms of the 1790s, the Tenpō reforms of the 1830s, and the Keiō reforms of 1866-1867.[3]


The shogunate's interventions were only partly successful. Intervening factors like famine, floods and other disasters exacerbated some of the conditions which the shogun intended to ameliorate.

  • 1730 (Kyōhō 15): The Tokugawa shogunate officially recognizes the Dojima Rice Market in Osaka; and bakufu supervisors (nengyoji) are appointed to monitor the market and to collect taxes.[4] The transactions relating to rice exchanges developed into securities exchanges, used primarily for transactions in public securities.[5] The development of improved agriculture production caused the price of rice to fall in mid-Kyohō.[6]
  • August 3, 1730 (Kyōhō 15, 20th day of the 6th month): A fire broke out in Muromachi and 3,790 houses were burnt. Over 30,000 looms in Nishi-jin were destroyed. The bakufu distributed rice.[7]
  • 1732 (Kyōhō 17): The Kyōhō famine was the consequence after swarms of locusts devastated crops in agricultural communities around the inland sea.[8]



  • Adams, Thomas Francis Morton. (1953). Japanese Securities Markets: A Historical Survey, Tokyo: Seihei Okuyama.
  • Hall, John Whitney. (1988). The Cambridge History of Japan, v4: "Early Modern Japan." Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-22357-1
  • Hayami, Akira, Osamu Saitō, Ronald P Toby. (2004) The Economic History of Japan: 1600-1990. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-828905-7
  • Ponsonby-Fane, Richard A.B. (1956). Kyoto: the Old Capital, 794-1869. Kyoto: Ponsonby-Fane Memorial.
  • ISBN 978-0-203-09985-8 (electronic)
  • Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland.
  • Traugott, Mark. (1995). Repertoires and Cycles of Collective Action. Durham, North Carolina: OCLC 243809107
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