Efu (tag) (会符)

Efu was a type of baggage tags which were attached during the Edo period to goods sent by the Imperial Court, the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), court nobles, samurai families, temples and shrines to clarify who sent the baggage in question. It was also referred to as korifu (wicker trunk tag), efu (traffic tag, different kanji), or denpu (horse transportation tag).

Efu marked only 'Goyo' (official business) in ink was attached to the baggage sent from the Imperial Court or the Edo bakufu accompanied by the Imperial crest or the family crest of Tokugawa, respectively, while other senders wrote '...Goyo' (official business of...) or '...Kachu...Goyo' (...family's official business of...) on efu accompanied by their own family crests. The Edo bakufu's official rate applied to the baggage with efu when human resources and horses were needed at shukueki (relay stations) (Tokugawa Shogunate Family's baggage [the Shogun Family's official baggage] had to be transported for free).

But after the middle of the eighteenth century, as commercial distribution became increasingly important, the disparity between the market rate of transportation and the official rate widened. Because, in line with this circumstance, court nobles, samurai families, temples and shrines started to earn money by lending efu to merchants and farmers who wanted to transport their own baggage at the official rate, the Edo bakufu often cracked down on this business, but without effect.

[Original Japanese]