This is a brief bibliographical essay which surveys the literature published in Japanese during the past decade on various aspects of the Tokugawa economy. The purpose of the essay is twofold: the first is to present an annotated bibliography of selected books and a list of relevant articles for the convenience of scholars interested in sources relating to economic changes in Tokugawa Japan. The second is to present in summary form what appears to the authors to be the newly emerging consensus in the interpretation of these changes.
The emerging consensus is an acceptance of the hypothesis that the Tokugawa economy and its institutions steadily developed, resulting in a rise in the standard of living for most of the population during the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. A majority of Japanese economic historians now seem to agree that the peasant class also benefitted from the economic growth, and numerous scholars through exacting case studies have produced evidence to show that agricultural productivity was rising faster than effective tax rates. Other research has documented the rapid development of economic institutions, including the market, credit mechanisms, and guilds. The old theme of stagnation and demise for the late Tokugawa economy has been discharged in favor of a new theme of continuous growth and development.