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Number of Samurai at the time of the Bakumatsu

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  • Number of Samurai at the time of the Bakumatsu

    Here's a question for 2020.

    How many Samurai were there in Japan at the time of the Bakumatsu?
    Pip Pip Cheerio

    Malcolm

  • #2
    Now that was a somewhat new question. To my knowledge, during the 17-18th century, the number of samurai was said to have been between 7-8% of the total population. But as time went on and many samurai was forced to find new ways to survive the hard times of the late 18th and early 19th century, my best guess would be 4-5% during the Bakumatsu period.
    Choshu was so lacking warriors during this period, that they were forced to use farmers and even members of the outcasts in order to fill their ranks.
    However, I’m not sure how much 4-5% were in actual numbers 🙂

    Jan
    Jan - Sweden

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    • #3
      Individual Samurai, or Samurai households? I read somewhere that Japan’s warrior class had a much higher overall percentage of the population than European nations, a figure of thirty (or forty) percent even? That would surely make up huge numbers if it true.
      Piers D - Japan / UK

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      • Jan Pettersson
        Jan Pettersson commented
        Editing a comment
        I remember watching a program a few years back about medievil knights in Europe. If my memory doesn’t fail me completely, the number of knights amounted to less that 1% of the population back then.

    • #4
      I read somewhere 60-70.000. But don’t ask me for the source now.
      Luc Taelman -

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      • #5
        Thank You Gentlemen,

        According to the records at the National Diet, , the population of Japan was 34,985,000 on January 1, 1873.

        The population of Great Britain was 31,000,000, whilst France had a population of 38,000,000 and likewise, the Austro Hungarian Empire had 38,000,000.

        Back tracking to 10 years to Bakumatsu, If we take a low average of 5%, that gives us a potential Samurai population of 1,749,250.

        Multiply that by generations of production of Katchu, Swords, Spears, Teppo and Tosogu and you have an interesting sum total to export to a waiting World, and still leave a huge amount over....

        Perhaps that explains why wonderful things keep on surfacing in Japan
        Last edited by Malcolm; 01-05-2020, 06:01 AM.
        Pip Pip Cheerio

        Malcolm

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        • Teppotai
          Teppotai commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks for that Malcolm! All good for us then!

          PS Not wishing to be in the teeny weeniest bit negative, but despite some excellent success with protective layering, we must subtract from that sum total the attrition from mould, humidity, worms, rust, neglect, fires, bombing, typhoons, floods and earthquakes.

        • Teppotai
          Teppotai commented
          Editing a comment
          PPS And all the good stuff that has been snapped up by fiendish collectors already!
          PPPS............ It sounds as if something might have surfaced near you?

      • #6
        I Agree in part Piers, subtracting from the sum of the centuries, still leaves us with an appreciable amount, and as with other aspects of the Antique, I am constantly surprised by that which continues to emerge...........

        And as for PPPS........... Well,
        Pip Pip Cheerio

        Malcolm

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        • #7
          The Bakufu census of 1843, a collection of all Han census, placed the entire population at almost 27 million people. This puts the 8% number of Samurai at 2+ million, so not sure this is accurate. The book about Saigo Takamori, and his role in the Meiji Restoration, the government, and his role in the Satsuma Rebellion discusses the conversion of the Samurai stipend to a government retirement program, which kept getting reduced and further reduced, until eliminated, which was a partial cause of the rebellion. The book gives some numbers, and the numbers are known, I just don't have them in front of me. Malcolm is the research guru, and most likely has a link somewhere in his collection of awesome informational pages.

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          • #8
            https://ja.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/%E3%...2%E5%90%88.svg

            The purple section, 7% is Bushi class. The greens are peasant farmers at 84%. The total population is given here as 32,000,000.

            One of several graphs I found with a Giggle, here:
            https://www.google.com/search?q=%E6%...#imgrc=_&vet=1
            Piers D - Japan / UK

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            • #9
              That makes sense, if it's a class, wives, kids, grandparents, etc are part of the class, so divide by 4 and you get close to the "assumed" number. Always good data Piers
              .

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