Gender and Urban Space in Edo 1600-1850

This project reconstructs women’s use of urban space in the biggest city in the early modern world: Edo (present-day Tokyo). It aims to enlighten the gendering of urban space during Edo’s transformation from a castle town to Ō-Edo, the Great City of commoners. This development significantly changed the physical and social makeup of Edo as large-scale immigration undermined the planned geography and transformed Edo from a warriors’ city into a city dominated by merchants.

The project uses a great variety of sources shedding light on women’s use of streets. Edo’s street life is extensively portrayed in print, many of which include intricate and accurate details of people and activities. Guidebooks and surveys are contrasted with prints and popular fiction to illuminate female and male movement through the city. Historical maps allow for a reconstruction of the urban fabric, and the governance and day-to-day use of urban space in commoners’ districts will be deduced from ordinances, petitions, and court records.

Researcher: Marie Yasunaga