Translated by Sachiko Kawai, Matthew Keller, and Lisa Kochinski.
Kenchō seventh year (1255), eighth month, ninth day.
Fifth-ranked formerly of the Ministry of Popular Affairs Lord Ōta [Yasutsura]
Some Background: In 1231 (Kangi 3), at the height of the great Kangi-era famine (1229–1232), the sale of human beings was legalized. The rationale for allowing people to sell their relatives was to spread starving people to areas where there was food, and thus ensure their survival. However, the splitting up of family members contributed to a drop in the birth rate which exacerbated recovery from the famine. Buying and selling people was prohibited in 1239, but the practice had become widespread and it continued despite numerous attempts to stamp it out. See William Wayne Farris, Japan’s Medieval Population: Famine, Fertility, and Warfare in a Transformative Age (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2006), 33–51.
Original Text 原文
建長七年八月九日 実綱 判
建長七年（１２５５）八月九日 実綱 判
- The selling and buying of humans was legalized during the Kangi famine in 1231 (Kangi 3), but by the time of this document, 1255, trade in humans was prohibited. The money mentioned in this document is money confiscated from illegal sales of humans. For more on slavery during the Kangi-era famine, see William Wayne Farris, Japan’s Medieval Population: Famine, Fertility, and Warfare in a Transformative Age (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2006), 33–51. ↩
- Lesser itinerant monks (kohijiri 子聖) were the followers of the head fundraisers for the Great Buddha project in Kamakura. ↩