Kawaramono (discriminated position) (河原者)

Kawaramono is also referred to as Kawarabito, and they were a type of people which were discriminated against in medieval Japan.


They handled animal carcasses and leather processing, and were called Kawaramono because they lived on or near the riverbed (kawara). There are two reasons that are considered for their living in such areas: one is because they were not taxed as long as they lived on the riverbed, and another is because the leather processing required a lot of water. At the time, there was no distinguishment made between the handling of animal carcasses or leather processing. In addition, the Kawaramono were engaged in well digging, kabuki, haulage, peddling, gardening, and the like.


The most famous Kawaramono was Zenami, a gardener who served the eighth Shogun of Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA, and the garden of Ginkaku-ji Temple was a work created by his son and grandson. Many other rock gardens in and after the Medieval Period in Kyoto are works by the Kawaramono.


Kawaramono was also referred to as Eta and Kiyome. Eta herein is different from the Eta in the Edo Period.


Although those discriminated in the Medieval Period were generally called Hinin, there is controversy as to whether Kawaramono were included in Hinin.

Later History of Kawaramono

It is said that the Kawaramono were included in a fixed discriminated position when the position was organized by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI and the Tokugawa government in the early modern period. Cases have been reported mainly in Kyoto and Nara, in which the domicile of the Kawaramono in the Medieval Period coincided with those who were discriminated in modern times, while reported cases focused on the controversy of the origin of Buraku (discriminated hamlet). Based on the report, some people support the opinion that the Buraku originated from the Medieval Period.

[Original Japanese]