The Tokugawa Period

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The Tokugawa (or Edo) period lasted from 1603 to 1867. It was Japan’s final era of traditional Japanese government, culture and society before the Meiji Restoration in 1868. It began in 1568, when Japan’s “Three Reunifiers” – Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu – worked to bring back central control. It was in 1603 when Tokugawa Ieyasu finished the task and established the Tokugawa Shogunate. In Japan, the warrior samurai held the most power, followed by farmers, artisans and traders. Land was controlled by the daimyo, or a group of people or feudal lords. The daimyo collected taxes and enforced military service against the people who lived and worked on their land. Tokugawa Ieyasu defeated the daimyo, who were loyal to Toyotomi…show more content…
The Sword Hunt was issued so that nobody could have weapons, except for the samurai. The Tokugawa Period recognised only four social classes: warriors (samurai), artisans, farmers and merchants – and moving between the four classes was officially prohibited. Many samurai warrior were forced to work as bureaucrats in the Tokugawa administration, while some had took up a trade. And they were not the only sector in Japan that had life-style changes. All sectors of society had to follow their traditional roles, and this was made strict. The Tokugawas imposed and enforced rules about small details, such as which classes could use luxury silks for their clothes or use tortoiseshell for…show more content…
It did, however, signal the beginning of the end for the Tokugawas. Soon enough Japan’s lifestyle and economy was heavily disturbed by the large amount of foreign people, ideas and money in the 1850s and 1860s. The Emperor Komei issued an “Order to Expel Barbarians” in 1862, but it was too late for Japan to retreat back to isolation. The order, in fact, did nothing to stop foreign ships from coming to Japan. Many southern provinces’ daimyo blamed the Tokugawa shogunate for not defending Japan. In 1866, Shogun Tokugawa Iemochi suddenly died, and Tokugawa Yoshinobu reluctantly took power. He would be the fifteenth and last Tokugawa shogun. In 1867, the emperor also died and his son, Mitsuhito, became the Meiji Emperor.
In 1867, two powerful anti-Tokugawa clans, the Choshu and Satsuma, combined forces to cause the fall of the shogunate. The following year, the Meiji Restoration was announced, under which the 14-year-old Emperor Meiji would rule in his own name.
Japan was therefore launched into the modern world after 250 years of peace and isolation under the Tokugawa shoguns, leading them to open up to Western trade and influence once again under the new
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