chapter  13
4 Pages

Edo at the Beginning of the 18th Century

The rice trade had the quickest profits. For some time the hatamoto and the samurai no longer went with their servants three times a month to visit the Shogun's or the daimyo's stores for their rations; the stores were located near Asakusa in Umayagashi, now called Kuramae, where the boats used to come alongside with their goods. They gave the task to an intermediary, for example, the owner of a tea-house, where they would collect their ration of rice; the intennediary trader soon agreed to let them have money instead of rice, and, in time, agreed to lend them money on the strength of certain guarantees. As the price of rice was continually changing, the traders managed to find ways of becoming rich while the peasants remained poor, and the samurai fell into debt. The Osaka traders who dealt in bulk were the models that the retailers of Edo followed.