Dachin-Uma Kasegi (駄賃馬稼)

Dachin-uma kasegi refers to an occupation in Japan before modern times that engaged in the transportation of freight and people by carrying them on horseback. Those engaged in this occupation were called a bashaku (shipping agent using horses) or mago (packhorse driver), while the horse was called a daba (packhorse), kasegiuma (horse for earning) or niuma (draft horse), and the transportation fee was called dachin (carriage charge).


From ancient times in Japan, horses have been an important mode of transportation. Prince Oama, who raised an army for the Jinshin War, encountered a procession of fifty horses carrying rice from Ise Province to Otsukyo at Udahyoka. He had the horses discharged and requisitioned as war-horses. Operations of this size give evidence to support the capability of the government of the time to have large-scale transportation (As a result of this requisition, the rebel troops on the Prince's side gained war-horses while simultaneously interrupting the delivery of provisions to the enemy's base in Otsukyo).

In the Ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based on the ritsuryo code), a Kokushi (provincial governor) usually had nengu (land tax) delivered to the Japanese capital by requisitioning horses of local leaders, such as a Gunji (local magistrate) or wealthy families in exchange for dachin. Before long, however, a group called Shume emerged in Togoku (Kanto region) that engaged in transportation as a business, engaging in the safe transfer of such loads. Later on in other areas as well, farmers who engaged in transportation by utilizing their farm horses during the slack season increasingly concentrated on transportation.

As it became the Kamakura period, increased commercial activity caused the emergence of transportation groups called bashaku in Kinai (Kinki region) as well. During the Muromachi period, a bashaku guild was organized in Yagi, Yamato Province (present Kashihara City, Nara Prefecture), and similar occupations prevailed in various areas. During the Sengoku period (period of Warring States), in order to secure their own means of transportation and communication, Sengoku daimyo (Japanese territorial lord in the Sengoku period) imposed duties such as posts and provisions on carriers in exchange for permission to use Dachin-uma kasegi.

As it became the Edo period, the Edo bakufu (in 1602 and 1711 by the feudal government), along with various domains set out to eliminate malicious businesses by setting an official carriage charge. Neighboring carriers cooperated to improve the efficiency of transportation as well.

Even as it became the Meiji period, transportation by horses was still valued, and an establishment of a 'land transportation company' was encouraged by the new government. Before long, however, the use of Dachin uma-kasegi declined with the construction of railways.

Horses remained as a means of logistic transportation for armies in various nations across the world until World War II. During the war, only US forces did not conduct coummuncations using horses as a form of transportation.


Since a horse was the most important means of transportation before modern times, swift horses (shunme) were usually reserved for military or government use, and the daba used for transportation were poor quality horses that were unable to run fast while carrying a person.
This is how inferior horses of poor quality came to be generally referred to as 'daba.'

In the past, when a mago (packhorse driver) went to pick up packages to transport at the request of a warehouse merchant in a distant town, they would often accept another package from someone else to transport on the way, gaining dachin and earning small money.
This resulted in small money that was given in exchange for a simple chore, such as a child going shopping, being called '(o)dachin.'

[Original Japanese]