One of the very interesting things I discovered doing my dissertation was the relatively meager state of scholarship on Meiji era financial institutions, particularly on the ways in which Japanese used (and avoided) new systems of savings, transfers/remittances, loans, etc. I ended up being quite impressed by the financial sophistication of supposedly unsophisticated peasant migrant laborers, and considerably more sympathetic to the assumptions of economic history as a result.
My advisor even tried to steer me in that direction: I had to do some background reading on the Yokohama Specie Bank, which played a role in early Hawai’i-Japan remittances (by establishing one of Japan’s first overseas bank branches!), and he was disappointed that the bank itself did not sufficiently fire my historical curiousity that I might take it up as a topic in itself. It is true, though, that there remain questions which I can’t answer to my own satisfaction because I don’t know enough about Meiji banking.
Well, Sharon Howard forwarded me a link to Michael Schlitz’s Histor¥ which is described both as a “weblog about Meiji financial reforms” and (quite tantalizingly) an “opensource project on Japanese financial history 1850-1917.” I’m thrilled to see this topic getting the attention it deserves and available on-line, to boot! Now, I just need time to read through his archives and make notes….