The authors examine population trends, demographic characteristics, and the family reproduction system in a highland area of Japan. Aizu district is located in northeastern Japan and has both a mountainous area and a narrow plain. The study is based on Shûmon Aratame Chô (SAC), population registers of four villages between 1750 and 1850 and focuses on the mountainous sector. Demographically, this area stagnated because of its isolation and remoteness. There were few migrations in or out. The peasants married early but bore few children. The authors show how demographic patterns are interrelated with family and household patterns. The most frequent family type was the stem family household, traditionally considered as characteristic of Japan, where the ie (house) was usually transmitted to a single heir. Family transmissions of the rural estate are observed in detail. A household cycle took about 30-35 years to complete. Major differences were seen among social classes, but, overall, Aizu families possessed ideals of ie and were incorporated into ie systems, particularly in the upper classes.
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