Alternate attendance (sankin kotai) was one of the central institutions of Edo-period (1603–1868) Japan and one of the most unusual examples of a system of enforced elite mobility in world history. It required the daimyo to divide their time between their domains and the city of Edo, where they waited upon the Tokugawa shogun. Based on a prodigious amount of research in both published and archival primary sources, Tour of Duty: Samurai, Military Service in Edo, and the Culture of Early Modern Japan, by Constantine Nomikos Vaporis, renders alternate attendance as a lived experience, for not only the daimyo but also the samurai retainers who accompanied them. Beyond exploring the nature of travel to and from the capital as well as the period of enforced bachelorhood there, Vaporis elucidates—for the first time—the significance of alternate attendance as an engine of cultural, intellectual, material, and technological exchange.
August 2008 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3205-6 / $50.00 (CLOTH)