Machi-shu (町衆)

Machi-shu (also known as Cho-shu) was a class consisting of wealthy commercial and industrial men, including doso (pawnbrokers and moneylenders), in Kyoto from the Muromachi period to the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States) in Japan. This class played an important role in Kyoto reconstruction after the Onin War. Emphasizing autonomy and unity, it developed its unique culture. Their main religion was Hoke-kyo Sutra (the Lotus Sutra). Honno-ji Temple was the head temple.

Representing a concept that inherited Kyowarabe (Kyoto's young people) and the like in the Heian period, Machi-shu was to be evolved into Chonin (townspeople) in the early-modern and Edo periods.

Although it is mostly read 'Machi-shu' today, it was apparently read 'Cho-shu' according to the historical materials in that period including "Setsuyo-shu" (a book on oriental medicine written by Waichi SUGIYAMA in the 1610s) and "Nippojisho" (Japanese-Portuguese dictionary, published 1603-1604).

[Original Japanese]