Shoshiki (諸色)

Shoshiki was a term used in the Edo period to indicate the price of commodity. In most cases shoshiki indicated the prices of daily commodities other than rice.

Steep price rise was called shoshiki-kojiki and downslide was called shoshiki-geshiki. In the Edo period rice price was considered to link with shoshiki, however, price slump caused by increased production of rice incurred the phenomenon of 'shoshiki-kojiki by low rice price' in Kyoho era.

Adjustment of a balance between rice price and shoshiki was an issue that always came up as part of so-called 'reformation of the shogunate government.'
In the Kyoho Reforms (a series of reforms carried out in the Kyoho era) a rollback order was issued to the merchants, alleging that the shoshiki showed no sign of easing in spite of the declined rice price because the merchants profited unfairly. At the time of the Kansei Reforms (a series of reforms carried out in Kansei era), Shoshiki gakari (a price watchdog) made up of the Edo town magistrate's officials such as yoriki (police sergeant) and doshin (police constables) and the municipal officials was established in order to monitor the prices and it kept functioning until the end of the Edo period. Kabunakama (merchant guilds) were dissolved during the Tenpo Reforms (a series of reforms carried out in Tenpo era) because they were considered as the villain of raising the commodity price, but there was no evidence that the kabunakama were systematically committing such an act, and instead, the dissolution of the guilds made the distribution system even more troubled, causing further shoshiki-kojiki. Shozo ABE, Osaka machi-bugyo (town magistrate of Osaka) of that time, submitted a countermeasure for shoshiki-kojiki citing 'domains' monopoly,' 'illegal trading by certain merchants' and 'flourishing nukiurikai (抜売買) (the trade outside normal distribution channels)' as a factor of shoshiki-kojiki, however, it was not adopted. Furthermore, trading after Japan's opening to the world at the end of the Edo period caused additional soaring prices. So a concept of 'shoshiki-kaisho' (shoshiki exchange), a semi-nationalized distribution channel of daily commodity, was advocated, but it was not brought to realization due to the fall of the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

Note

In trade with China at that time the exported goods other than so-called 'Tawaramono Sanhin' (three luxury marine products)' were also called 'shoshiki.'