Tsuchi Uprising (Tsuchi-ikki or Do-ikki) (土一揆)
The term "tsuchi uprising" (called tsuchi-ikki or do-ikki in Japanese) refers to political appeals by the masses which had occurred from the middle to the late Muromachi period.
In the middle of the Muromachi period, the social situation changed according to the development of a commodity economy, the improvement of agricultural production, the consolidation of so (peasants' self-governing association), and the like. In the wake of the change, the masses in the Kinai region (the provinces in the vicinity of the capital which were under direct Imperial rule), which was an advanced area of those days, began to form solidarity organizations (called ikki in Japanese) to make a political appeal to their rulers such as the bakufu (feudal government headed by a shogun) and their shugo (provincial constables). This was called the Tsuchi-ikki or Do-ikki (Tsuchi uprising). During this period, the level of awareness of self-governing and solidarity was rapidly raised among peasants and other commoners, as shown in the formation of soson (a community consisting of peasants' self-governing association). It is now considered that the state of consciousness caused peasants, jizamurai (local samurai), and bashaku (shipping agents who used horses) in a wide area to come together to start Tsuchi-ikki.
In most tsuchi-ikki, they appealed to the government to enforce tokusei (which literally means "virtuous rule," representing cancellations of debts in this case). That is why Tsuchi-ikki is sometimes called Tokusei ikki. In that period, there was an idea that the right of ownership of movable or immovable property should belong to the original owner of that property even if the property had been sold. Accordingly, there was also a widespread idea that returning the right of ownership to the original owner of that property should be realized in the right governance (or tokusei). The peasants thought they could appeal to the government to enforce their right of tokusei. Therefore, poverty is not thought to have been the primary cause of Tsuchi-ikki. People considered a change of emperors or shogun as a good occasion to enforce tokusei. For that reason, many cases of tsuchi-ikki arose at such times. The frequency of the occurrence of tsuchi-ikki gradually became higher, and eventually it occurred almost every year.
The frequent occurrence of tsuchi-ikki undermined the power of the bakufu. Nevertheless, the bakufu was slow to respond to the situation. Besides, some of the samurai who were under the command of shugo daimyo (Japanese territorial lords as provincial constables) and actually suppressed uprisings fell into financial difficulty due to their longtime stay in Kyoto. Many of such samurai were sympathetic to peasants who lived in the similar conditions, and eventually, some of them even went over to the side of ikki. The bakufu often ordered feudal lords to thoroughly supervise samurai under their command.
Immediately before the Onin War, samurai warriors who were assembled in the capital broke into and robbed financial institutions called doso, calling their robberies 'shi-tokusei,' which literally means 'privately declared tokusei.'
The Muromachi bakufu originally collected a tax called doso-yaku from doso and a tax called sakaya-yaku from breweries. It was stipulated, however, that the bakufu had to exempt doso from doso-yaku because they would lose their profit when the bakufu enforced a tokuseirei (debt cancellation order). Accordingly, the bakufu initially issued orders to forbid tokusei. Nevertheless, the number of ikki uprisings kept increasing. Eventually, the bakufu even issued the 'Buichi Tokusei-rei' (Ten Per Cent Debt-relief Edict), in which a party involved in a conflict was allowed to dispose their credit at will if they paid ten percent of the credit amount in dispute to the bakufu, and they acquiesced ikki in order to solve their own financial difficulty. Therefore, probable targets of ikki such as doso and temples had to hire samurai for their own protection.
Some uprisings are widely known; for example, the peasant uprising of the Shocho era in 1428, the Tokusei uprising of the Kakitsu era in 1441, the peasant uprising of the Kyotoku era in 1454, the peasant uprising of the Choroku era in 1457, the uprising of Yamashiro Province in 1478 and 1480, and so on.