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Hakata: The Making Of A Mercantile Centre

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Chapter Summary

Mt Seburi is an imposing landmark overlooking the Saga plain and the Chikugo River, and faces the long valley that stretches northwards past the old Dazaifu Headquarters towards Hakata Bay. Hakata's emergence as a thriving mercantile centre during the last centuries of Heian rule may appear at odds with the insularity that increasingly characterized life at court in Kyoto. In provinces throughout Japan it was the growth of shōen estates that was most influential in gradually dismantling the ritsuryō system. A major catalyst in Hakata's development was the expansion of overseas trade fostered by the dynamic economic growth in China under the Song dynasty, which came to power in the late tenth century. High on the Taira's list of priorities was to control the mercantile wealth of Hakata, which had now become an established entrepôt of domestic and overseas trade between China, Kyoto and the Kyushu hinterland.

Keywords: Hakata; Hakata Bay; Heian rule; mercantile culture of Hakata; Mt Seburi; ritsuryō system; Saga plain; shōen



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