Tamori (field administrator) (田守)

Tamori was a position in charge of managing fields on public lands, which was set up by the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). For most of the tamori positions, peasants who had expertise in techniques were selected.

Although provincial constables or manor lords gave instruction in farming before the Muromachi period, a position of professional instructor of farming techniques was set up for the first time in the Muromachi period. The Edo period saw a significant improvement of farming techniques thanks to the tamori.

History

The origin of tamori is supposedly tanbomori, a service provided in the Hokuriku region in the late Kamakura period. The tanbomori was in charge of daily observations of paddy fields and their vicinity, to mainly study rice blast fungus. Each year the families in the village took their turn to be in charge of tanbomori. Later this position called tanbomori was handed down among certain families for many generations. The family name, tamori, that remains in the Hokuriku region is a remnant of families of professional tanbomori.

In the Muromachi period, occupations were further specialized, and the tanbomori became a profession called the tamori. Before that, specific families succeeded the tanbomori by word of mouth for some generations. After the Onin War, the bakufu set up the profession of tamori across the country to restore the farming villages destroyed in the war. At first the tamori only gave instruction within the area of public lands, but later came to instruct the neighboring farming villages. In the late Muromachi period,local samurai assigned the tamori independently.

In the late Sengoku period (period of warring states in Japan), many peasants in farming villages were sent off to war, and this resulted in a critical decrease in agricultural production. Therefore, daimyo (Japanese territorial lords) in the Sengoku period across the country treated good tamori well to attract them to their territories,and tried to prevent them from moving away to other territories. This led to the extinction of tamori as an occupation except for a few influential tamori.

As society gradually became more stable in the Edo period, the tamori profession was revived around the country. Especially in the Hokuriku region, a rice-producing region, clans employed a number of tamori to protect their paddies from being damaged by cold weather and focus on stabilization of rice cultivation. In this period, many books on agricultural techniques, such as 'Noka eki (farming handbook)' and 'Nogyo zensho (Compendia of agricultural knowledge),' were published and the techniques that had been handed down by the tamori were recorded systematically. Incidentally, some of the tamori used their wealth of knowledge about plants and worked as herbalists.

Later in the Meiji period, due to the industrialization policy of the government, many tamori gave up their businesses.