奴道中 (attendant on the road)

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Title:

奴道中 (yakko dōchū)
attendant on the road

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This top depicts a samurai attendant. During the Edo Period (1600-1868), daimyō (military lords) were required to travel to the capital of Edo (modern day Tokyo) on alternating years to reside there. Travel across the country took place in long processions of the daimyō and their retainers and servants. These processions were a point of pride for each individual province and local ruler, and could include as many as several thousand men. At the forefront of these processions were bannermen, who carried spears or flags, and called out for commoners to clear a path for the daimyō’s party to move through the road. Here, Hiroi-sensei has made a top of one of these bannermen.  

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Hiroi Michiaki: And this is a samurai attendant. In the past, there were daimyō (military lord) processions; there was a practice called sankin kōtai [in which daimyō travelled on alternating years to do a year-long residence in Edo [Tokyo]]. For example the processions even went all the way from Sendai to Edo. And after some years they’d turn around and come back. At that time, the person in the very front of the line, the attendant, carried a spear, and while calling out something out loud he’d walk like this. [This top] shows this. The attendant on the road. At the very front of the daimyō procession.

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