During the Edo period of Japanese history, were self-governing administrative units, led by the . Villages were taxed as a unit, with the village headman responsible for taxation. Taxes were paid in rice, often 40 to 50% of the harvest. Criminal punishments could also be imposed on the village as a unit.
Before the Edo period, samurai administered the villages, but during the sword hunt they were put to a choice: give up their sword and status and remain on the land as a peasant, or live in a as a paid retainer of the local daimyo (lord).
Villages were also manufacturing units: In western Japan, cottage industries developed, with each family of the village taking over one step of the production process.