Nittsū’s Company History as a Guide to the Early Modern Origins of Japan’s Modern Communications

Charles Andrews


Historians of the future will no doubt focus on the transformative role of Internet-based communications as they have changed human interaction in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.  The introduction of modern postal services in Japan and elsewhere in the nineteenth century produced effects no less profound: citizens were connected to each other and their governments by reliable and relatively speedy delivery of letters, newspapers, and parcels.  Japan’s postal system was a great success, but the communications practices of the Japanese prior to the establishment of the post played an important role in that success.  Courier services—the so-called hikyakuya—of the early modern period survived and ultimately became today’s Nippon Tsūun (Nittsū), and global logistical corporation.  This article surveys the development of early modern Japanese communications, demonstrating the indispensible role that Nittsū’s company history plays in understanding that development.


hikyaku; Nittsu; post; transportation

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