This introductory chapter asserts that even though many early modern Japanese villages (ca. 1580–1868) failed to adopt anything like private individual landownership, these places still experienced economic diversification and growth because the lands farmed at any given time were determined by village or baronial domain (han) policy employing one of three mechanisms: allocation of cultivation rights linked to family composition, a fixed order of rotation, or lottery. There are three major variants of these systems: per capita allocation, allocation per family, and per share allocation. These forms of tenure were applied to arable lands, not to the commons (iriai-chi), which sometimes employed similar mechanisms to allocate access to a resource.
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