History Colloquium - Federico Marcon, Princeton University

“Controlling Money: Monetary Reforms in Early Eighteenth-Century Japan.”


At the turn of the Eighteenth Century, as the lavish splendor of the Genroku era waned into a decade of economic stagnation and hyperinflation, the Bakufu attempted a series of monetary reforms to gain control of currencies.

The two reforms of 1714 and 1736 were inspired by the theories of two political scholars, Arai Hakuseki and Ogyū Sorai, who respectively argued for a bullionist and contractualist conception of money.

The reforms revealed not only the extent of the monetary integration of Japanese society after a century of Tokugawa rule, but also the sophistication of samurai’s understanding of financial dynamics.