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Circuit (political division)

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A circuit ( ; Chinese: dào; Japanese: ) was an historical political division of T'ang China and Japan and Korea. In Korean, the same word (; do) is translated as "province".


Emperor Taizong divided China into parts which were called "circuits".[1]

The organization of government and geography in T'ang China were merged in provinces (tao ) which were ten natural regions.[2] In part, Tang history is about the changing balance between the provinces and a strong central government.[3]


During the pre-modern era, Japan was divided into a central region and seven provincial regions or "circuits",[4] including

  • Hokurikudō[4] (北陸道?, literally, "North Land Circuit"), 7 provinces (kuni)
  • Nankaidō[4] (南海道?, literally, "South Sea Circuit"), 6 provinces
  • Saikaidō[4] (西海道?, literally, "West Sea Circuit"), 8 provinces
  • San'indō[4] (山陰道?, literally, "Mountain-north Circuit"), 8 provinces
  • San'yōdō[4] (山陽道?, literally, "Mountain-south Circuit"), 8 provinces
  • Tōkaidō[4] (東海道?, literally, "East Sea Circuit"), 15 provinces
  • Tōsandō[4] (東山道?, literally, "East Mountain Circuit"), 13 provinces

In the mid-19th century, the northern island of Ezo was settled, and renamed Hokkaidō (北海道?, literally, "North Mountain Circuit").

Hokkaido did not develop as a "circuit" in the traditional way. It became a prefecture. It had a name which was different from the other prefectures because of the suffix -dō.


After the late-10th century, the province (do) was the main subdivision of Korea.

Related pages


  1. Chen, Jack W. (2000). The Poetics of Sovereignty: On Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty, p. 37 citing Robert des Rotours, "Les grands fonctionnaires des provinces en Chine sous la dynastie des T'ang," T'oung Pao Second Series, Vol. 25, No. 3/4 (1927), pp. 223-225.
  2. Qian, Nu and George Oakley Totten. (1982). Traditional Government in Imperial China: A Critical Analysis, pp. 100-101; Richard, Louis. (1908). Comprehensive geography of the Chinese Empire and dependencies, p. 471.
  3. Perry, John Curtis and Bardwell L. Smith. (1976). Essays on Tʻang Society: The Interplay of Social, Political and Economic Forces, p. 118.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). " Goki-shichidō" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 255.