Kawazarae Myogakin (川浚冥加金)

Kawazarae Myogakin is votive offering tax imposed by the government for dredging rivers in Osaka in the Edo period.


In Osaka, crisscrossing rivers in the city were important as the means of transportation and other uses; accordingly, dredging, which was a way of controlling and maintaining rivers, was also important.

The dredging was classified into three: Okawazarae (dredging of the Yodo-gawa River), uchikawazarae (dredging of branches of the Yodo-gawa River), and ryokawaguchizarae (dredging of the Aji-gawa River and the Kizu-gawa River).

In 1772, the expense of dredging came from the following three sources: (1) The license tax received from Kajichi Sahaisho: 910-ryo (in silver 54 kan [unit of volume, approx. 3.75 kg] and 600 monme [unit of volume, approx. 3.75 g]), (2) Togawa Tsuijidai-gin Kashitsuke Rigin (interest from the sales of the reclaimed land of Togawa) 80-kan 596-monme and 8-bu (unit of volume, approx. 0.375 g) in silver, (3) Horie Uenibune (freighters) Funadoko-gin 64-kan and 200 monme in silver, but 2 kan out of 64 kan and 200 monme, was Funadoko-gin (boat registration fee), so the net was 62 kan and 200 monme. The total of the three sources, 197 kan and 396 monme, was the annual expense for dredging.

Funadoko-gin was a tax imposed for 500 uwanibune (freighters) which were newly permitted in order to develop the area called Horie Shinchi in 1698. Togawa Tsuijidai-gin was interest which should be paid annually, and that interest was from a loan of money which was made by selling reclaimed lands along the Sonezaki-gawa River, the Kyomachi Hori-kawa River, the Tateurihori-kawa River, the Awahori-kawa River, the Toyokohori-kawa River, the Kaifuhori-kawa River, the Satsumahori-kawa River, the Nakanoshima Uenohana, the Edo Hori-kawa Shitanohana, and the Enokojima Shitanohana in 1767.

Kajichi Sahaisho came into existence in 1767 when three men (Kiyoemon who was a merchant of Edo, Tsu no Kuniya Choemon who was from Suomach, Osaka, and Kamiya Ribee from Sumiyoshiyamachi) paid annual license tax of 9950-ryo for their business as an agent for managing Kajichi Sahaisho. Farmers in Sango and nearby villages, borrowers had to write down their possessions such as houses, storehouses, various shares, barber shop in possesion and so on, and when they borrowed gold and silver, they had to submit a deed with a seal of approval to the Sahaisho. If borrowers had borrowed money from other lenders, the Sahaisho told them to refunding money from the Sahaisho on due date, and when a new seal of approval was given to them, the Sahaisho collected service charge from both of the former lender and the borrower; for example, the lender had to pay 4 monme per 1-kanme of silver, and the borrower had to pay 6 monme per 1-kanme of silver. Such a document of house mortgage had to be rewritten every 6 months, and indentures of various shares had to be renewed annually. People were surprised and this arrangement had a really bad reputation, and after February 23, 1768, towns made protest against this successively.

As the magistrate's office did nothing with these protests, riots occurred in the town of Osaka from March 10 through March 12, and people broke into and destroyed houses whose owners were related to Kajichi Sahaisho including Kamiya and Tsunokuniya.

The magistrate's office decided to use a part of the license tax the office received from Sahaisho for dredging to pacify the complaints voiced by the citizens; accordingly, the expense of dredging was raised to 4900 ryo in 1773 and all the expenses needed for dredging was paid with this money.

It was decided that the dredging expense should be paid out only from the license tax received from Kajichi Sahaisho, and Togawa Tsuijidai-gin Kashitsuke Rigin (interest from the sales of the reclaimed land of Togawa) and Horie Uenibune (freighters) Funadoko-gin were to be stored in the treasury of the castle. However, as objection about Okuin (seal of approval on the end of a deed) from the citizens never ceased to stop, the magistrate office finally discontinued this. The magistrate's office decided to collect the annual amount of 9950 ryo, which originally came from the Sahaisho, by 'tax for dredging,' and after 1775, the citizens had to pay three times per year (in February, May, and October), and eventually, 4900 ryo out of these installed payments were used for the dredging.

The allocating method of the Myogakin (tax) was as follows: the total of deeds in the central part of Osaka was 305,287 kan and 500 monme, and when the total amount of the Myogakin was taken out, the amount that came out was 1 monme 9 bu 5 ri and 6 mo per kanme.

Each town's expense was decided based on the amount of deeds collected, and the dredging tax per person was decided according to the size of each house's frontage before actual collection.

Although policies about muyaku-yashiki (houses which were exempt from taxes) varied depending on towns, it was decided that all muyaku-yashiki were excluded from the calculation of the amount of the Myogakin in 1796.

[Original Japanese]