Taiko-kenchi (the land survey by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI) (太閤検地)

The Taiko-kenchi is a series of land surveys (surveys of agricultural lands [i.e. except mountains and forests] and production) conducted by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI throughout Japan. It is also called "Tensho no Kokunaoshi" (literally, "the review of lands of the Tensho era") or "Bunroku no Kenchi" (literally, "land surveys of the Bunroku era").

Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI began the land survey in 1582. Although Hideyoshi had not had the title of Taiko (the father of the Imperial adviser) until he handed over the title of Kanpaku (the chief adviser for an emperor) to Hidetsugu TOYOTOMI in 1591, all his land surveys including the surveys conducted before 1591 were included in the 'Taiko-kenchi,' because Hideyoshi had been pleased with the use of the title of 'Taiko' since 1591. It was Mitsunari ISHIDA who drew up and suggested the Taiko-kenchi, and he actually conducted the surveys as a land survey magistrate.

Hideyoshi carried out the land surveys in each area he conquered to understand the extent of the land as a foundation to build a united country. A uniform method was used throughout the country for the Taiko-kenchi. The Taiko-kenchi enabled them to investigate and reorganize the long-established complicated land ownership matters, so that they could establish a new land system. As a result, the manorial system was finally obliterated entirely. Besides, since the Taiko-kenchi was carried out with standardized measures and bushels, weights and measures were also standardized. It is a famous story that Hideyoshi attacked Odawara-jo Castle surrounding it with two hundred thousand samurai and succeeded in defeating the Hojo clan (this battle is called "the Siege of Odawara"), without running out of provisions owing to the Taiko-kenchi.

In accordance with Taiko-kenchi, Kokudaka (crop yield) for each province was defined. This originated the system of Kokudaka (assessed yield; tax system based on rice, determined according to the annual rated yield of the domain) which formed the foundation of the shogunate system in the subsequent Edo period. In the Edo period, land surveys were also conducted following the example of the Taiko-kenchi.

Even before Taiko-kenchi, comprehensive land surveys (also called Sashidashi Kenchi) were conducted by Nobunaga ODA (some people call it 'Shincho Kenchi'). The Sashidashi-kenchi (or the Shincho-kenchi) is said to be the model for the Taiko-kenchi.

History of studies
Taiko-Kenchi Controversy
Controversy between Araki and Katsumata

[Original Japanese]