Santo (三都)

Santo (Three Cities)

It is a term that refers to Japan's three largest cities of the Edo Period. Namely, they are Kyoto, Osaka and Edo. They correspond to Sampu (the Three Urban Prefectures), the administrative designation introduced since the Meiji Period and later. This term will be explained below.

The present central cities of the three major metropolitan areas of Japan. They are, namely, the special wards (of Tokyo), Osaka City and Nagoya city.

The three central cities of the Keihanshin region. Namely, they are Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe cities. The term is used like Santo-monogatari (Santo stories) for a truism campaign and Santo-net (Santo network) for a media coproduction system.

Santo is a corrective term referring to the three largest cities, namely, Kyo, Osaka and Edo, out of those controlled under the direct administration of the shogunate during the Edo period.

Demographic features in Santo
Since the transfer of national capital to Kyoto (Heian-kyo) until the Muromachi period, the population in Kyoto is estimated to have ranged between a maximum of 200,000 and a minimum of 40,000, with sporadic fluctuations. It is considered that in the Azuchi-Momoyama Period, Osaka began to develop, while Kyoto, where the two separated dwelling areas, Kamigyo and Shimogyo, were unified through the gradual development of the contiguous area in between, had grown into a city of some 300,000 people. According to Rodrigo de Vivero y Velasco who drifted down to a coast of Japan in 1609, at the beginning of the Edo period, the population in Kyoto was between 300,000 and 400,000, while 200,000 in Osaka and 150,000 in Edo. During the Edo period, despite the slight demographic changes observed over the time, the estimated population was more than one million in Edo, and 400,000 in Kyoto as well as in Osaka. Besides these three cities, the estimated population was 100,000 at the highest in Kanazawa and in Nagoya and more than 60,000 in Nagasaki City, Sakai City and Kagoshima City, respectively, while the population of any of other leading castle towns was approximately 50,000. Such a difference between the three major cities positioned as national centers and the rest of the cities is believed to have been deliberately brought about by the bakufu's policy to secure the shogunate system, by concentrating the center of each domain into a single castle town, and by restricting the free economic expansion of the city beyond the sphere of the domain. The table below shows the Santo's documented population of machikata (townspeople).

The population of population of townspeople and the people related to shrines and temples in Edo
See Edo.

Kyoto population of townspeople and persons related to shrines and temples
The figures exclude persons belonging to the samurai class, the aristocracy and the discriminated class who were excluded in the survey.

For reference, the table below shows the following data sets, although they are less reliable owing to some defects of sources, such as the data confusion with the total population (approx. 500,000) of Yamashiro Province or the repetition of the same figure in different years.

The population surveyed by the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) in Yamashiro Province, excluding the samurai class, is shown below.

Kyoto had been the largest city in Japan until the Kanei era when the population of Edo increased sharply owing to the introduction of Sankinkotai (shogunate scheme requiring feudal lords to stay in residence in Edo every other year). Although no data for the population in the latter Edo period is available, it is supposed that the population in Yamashiro Province was in the consistent decline and the population in Kyoto also went falling to the 200,000 level. An estimation based on the figure 69,055, the reported number of the townspeople's household in 1864, concludes that Kyoto had 350,000 people in the last years of the Edo period and this might have exceeded that of Osaka, however, the study on the Shumon-ninbetsu-aratame-cho (religion-based population census records) estimates that the population in Kyoto was around 280,000.

Population of townspeople in Osaka
Detailed demographic records from the late 17th century are available for population of townspeople in the three Osaka districts (Kitagumi, Minamigumi and Tenmagumi). The census of the population of townspeople excludes the samurai class and the discriminated class. Chuso' in the table below means the population of Buddhist priests not belonging to any of the two Honganji schools, while the priests of these two schools are included in the population of townspeople in the three districts mentioned above. The figures of population for 1738 and 1743 in the "Nanboku ryo machibugyo rencho shojo" (the joint report by the Minami and Kita town magistrates) seem to be erroneous, but they are included herein in italics for reference.

After 1749, all priests of the two Honganji schools are included in the urban population in the three districts. The breakdown of the population in each district by number of cho (towns), households and persons as of September 1708 is shown below.

As statistical figures on the discriminated class living in such communities since 1756 are available, and the aggregated figures of the two categories are shown below for reference.

(Source: a population registry titled "Higashimachi bugyo isshiki Yamashiro-no-kami Naoatsu Kyuzo Sango narabini Etamura Hyogo Nishinomiya Shiwakujima Ninzudaka-cho")

Since 1868, the figures represent total population of all classes registered in the family registry.

The population in Osaka, which decreased due to the Osaka no eki (Siege of Osaka), recovered quickly and exceeded the population in Kyoto during the Genroku era. The population of townspeople alone once exceeded 400,000, but it fell to 300,000 at the end of the Edo period, and finally it dropped down to the 200,000 level in the Meiji period.

The Osaka City magistrate assumed jurisdiction over Sakai for a while, and therefore, some scholars argue that Osaka and Sakai formed a single urban sphere in the Edo Period. The population of the greater Osaka area combining the populations of the two cities is believed to have exceeded Kyoto's population during the Azuchi-Momoyama period until Osaka no eki occurred.

Characteristics of each city
Kyoto, currently known as the cultural and industrial center, had been the national capital since the period of Heian-kyo with the Imperial Court and the headquarters of a numerous leading Buddhist sects, despite the serious setbacks suffered in the Onin War, and it was the city representing Japan as the center of the academic activities, arts and religion at that time,
The city functioned as a commodities' distributing center by land due to its inland location, and enjoyed the growth of the financial industry, such as the money changers, taking advantage of the river routes connecting from Wakasa Bay to Lake Biwa and Yodogawa River. It was also the production center for fine crafts, represented by Nishijin textile and Kyo-yaki ceramics, giving great influence in commercial and industrial activities in Japan.

As a city of politics, Edo is the base for the Edo shogunate.
Bordered by the Tonegawa and Arakawa (Kanto) rivers and by the Tamagawa River, the area, where Sensoji Temple and Shinagawa Minato Port were located, thrived as a port town and a post station since sometime before the Edo period
The city grew dramatically under Ieyasu TOKUGAWA's urban development initiative, combined with government policy requiring shogunal retainers including hatamoto (direct retainers) to set up residence in Edo and the Sankinkotai scheme imposed on feudal lords, and these policies lead to the presence of a large samurai population in Edo on a permanent basis. Consequently, influx of various materials to support the samurai class lead to the subsequent population growth in the commercial and industrial sectors. By the Horeki era, Edo had gained recognition as 'Japan's foremost land' spurred by the emergence of the town people called as 'Edokko' for their distinctive spirit.

Osaka is an economic center that continued its development over the course of history by changing its function--as a trade port (Naniwa no Tsu), as a temple town under Ishiyama Gobo Temple, and more later as the seat of the Toyotomi government. Although the city once suffered heavy damages during the Siege of Osaka, it recovered with the support of the Edo bakufu that positioned the city as the only center of commerce in the western Japan. As a result, the feudal lords were encouraged to build a storehouse attached to the residence in Osaka and trade rice and other goods brought from their domains in order to cover their cost of administration in Edo as well as in the respective domains.
(Feudal lords in eastern Japan commonly had a storehouse attached to the residence in Edo, but quite a lot of them also set up a residence-cum-storehouse or a similar facility in Osaka as well.)
It is for this reason, that Osaka earned the nickname "the kitchen of the country." The city also played an important role as the terminal for Kitamae-bune cargo ships that traveled trade routes in the Sea of Japan, a relay station for trading goods that were exported through Nagasaki, as well as the center of distribution by water along the Yodogawa River to the city of Kyo (Kyoto).

The three cities were collectively called Sankatsu (three ports) during the Keicho era (although Kyo was not a port town but an inland city, due to its importance as a commercial and distributing center, this term was applied), however, in due course, the term Santo came to be used as well with the increased political presence of Edo. In particular, Kyo as the center of Kanei culture, Osaka as the center of Genroku culture, and Edo as the center of Kasei culture, the three cities gave birth to distinctive cultures in reflection of different times and conditions.

Gyokuzo HIROSE (younger brother of Tanso HIROSE), a Confucian scholar of the latter Edo Period who had lived not only in Edo but also in Osaka, describes the people's characters of these three cities in his essay "Kyukeisodou Zuihitsu," as "the people of Kyo are sensitive, the people of Osaka are avid and the people of Edo are proud," making a comparison of the people in these three cities with each examples. The following is a summary of his observations.

Kyo (Kyoto)
The people of Kyoto are very proud and they great importance in their land.
They believed that 'people of other areas--be it Edo or Osaka--are rural people and there is nowhere else to live but in the capital city.'

They think that without seeing Kyoto, people will never understand that our country (Japan) is 'a country unified under the one and only legitimate Imperial monarchy' and it is more honorable than any other countries.

The people of Osaka are short in temper and they place importance on wealth.
They believe that 'the aristocracy may be elevated in status but is poor and ingratiate themselves to us Osaka merchants and there is nothing more important in the world than wealth.'

They think that without seeing Osaka, people will never understand that our country (Japan) is 'rich with goods and highly accessible by ship' and the country is richer than other countries.

The people of Edo are energetic and excitable and have great respect for honorable vocations.
They believe that, 'when even feudal lords are poor (having debts due to financial problems), being poor is not a shame and making achievements (winning fame or recognition) at the expense of money is better.'

They think that without seeing Edo, people will never understand that our country (Japan) has 'a large population and is more prosperous than any other countries, with concentrated information and goods.'. Lastly, Gyokuzo concludes that, despite the differences of the three, they are the cities that Japan should be proud of.

In the Meiji period they were designated as Sampu (Three Urban Prefectures), and even after the city system was established, these three cities enjoyed an exceptional treatment for quite a while, and thus, they maintained the highly valued status over long period of time.