Reassessing the Shoen System: Society and Economy in Medieval Japan

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 10:00am to 6:00pm

This is a past event.

Social Sciences Building (SOS), SOS 250
3502 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, CA 90089


Shoen, agricultural estates with a complex hierarchy of rights to income from the land and cultivators, represented a major landholding structure in classical and medieval Japan. Shoen received considerable attention in Japanese scholarship some thirty years ago and now, historians in Japan are beginning to revisit the topic. While knowledge about shoen has informed much English-language scholarship over the last few decades, there have been few intensive studies of the land-holding system per se.

At this conference, scholars from Japan and the U.S.  presented research on shoen and shoen-related topics. Contributions from the ongoing Obe Estate Project at the University of Southern California are included, but coverage is not limited to a single estate.  Scholars from several disciplines, including history, archaeology, religious studies, and art history, participated. The conference focused on the ways that research on shoen can be applied more broadly to Japanese historical studies, as well as on methods to introduce shoen to undergraduates and non-specialists.


Conference organizers:  Joan Piggott, Professor of History, USC; Janet Goodwin, Associate in Research, East Asian Studies Center, USC.

Greeting and Dedication Joan Piggott (USC) and Jan Goodwin (USC)

Keynote Address: Another Ideology of Land Reclamation: Chôgen, Ôbe Estate, and Sayama Pond Distinguished Emeritus Professor Ôyama Kyôhei (University of Kyoto)

The History of the Distribution Economy and the Shôen System Sakurai Eiji (University of Tokyo)

Agriculture in Early Medieval Times—Another Look at Land Reclamation and Irrigation Kimura Shigemitsu (Teikyô University)

Hijiri and Temple Monks—the People Who Supported the Management of Temple Landholdings Nagamura Makoto (Japan Women’s University)

Economic Surplus at Hine Estate, 1501-1504: How Much Was There and Who Got What? Lee Butler (Independent Scholar) (Powerpoint presentation, .pptx format)

The Challenges and Benefits of Teaching Shôen to American Undergraduates Ethan Segal (Michigan State University) (pdf of Powerpoint slides)

Advance Rent Payment at Tôji Estates Takahashi Toshiko (Historiographical Institute, University of Tôkyô)

The Saionji Estates: Spatial Strategies and Economic Capital Rieko Kamei-Dyche (USC)

What Did Nyoin Gain from their Estates: Trading, Transportation, and Other Networks Sachiko Kawai (USC)

Maritime Economy and Shipping Customs of Muromachi-era Seto Inland Sea Shôen Michelle Damian (USC)

Arson, Murder, and Lawsuits: Border Disputes and Community Conflict in Medieval Kii Philip Garrett (University of Cambridge)

Tôdaiji and Its Shôen: Ôbe Estate in the Documentary Record Endô Motoo (Historiographical Institute, University of Tôkyô)

An Archaeological View of Ôbe Estate Nishida Takeshi (Kôkokan, Ono city, Hyôgo prefecture)

Claiming the Land: Chôgen and the Revival of Ôbe Estate Janet Goodwin (USC)

The Emergence of Heian Kuroda Estate as a Tôdaiji Property, and Insights for the Study of Ôbe Estate Joan Piggott (USC) (pdf of Powerpoint slides)

The Jôdoji Amida Triad: How Its Iconography Advanced Chôgen's Mission Yoshiko Kainuma (Independent Scholar)

’Evil Bands’ (Akutô) at Ôbe Estate Dan Sherer (USC) (Powerpoint presentation, .pptx format)

Warriors and Ôbe Estate in the Muromachi Period Noda Taizô (Kyoto Kôka Women’s University)

Hideyoshi in Harima: Militarization of the Late Medieval Shôen David Eason (SUNY Albany)


Contact Phone: (213) 821-4365

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Event Type



Students, Alumni, Faculty/Staff


University Park Campus


cultural, Dornsife




Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture
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