Rice porter

Kidai Shoran (detail) © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Museum für Asiatische Kunst (Asian Art Museum, National Museums in Berlin), former collection of Hans-Joachim and Inge Küster, gift of Manfred Bohms 2002, photography: Tadao Kodaira

During the Edo period, many people, including farmers, paid their taxes in rice. As a result, rice flowed into Edo from all over Japan and was stored in special storehouses in Asakusa and other places. Lower-ranking samurai reporting directly to the shogun received rice as their salary, which could be exchanged for money through rice merchants. There was such a large surplus of rice in the city that even townspeople could eat white rice––something that was a luxury in other parts of Japan.