The Tokugawa Era of Japan
Japan before the Tokugawa Era was a nation of warring states. The Tokugawa shoguns changed social class structures, agriculture, and manufacturing in the country by consolidating trends which had been in the making for some time (East Asia, p. 279) and brought Japan into a unified and productive state which lasted from about 1603 until 1800. Urbanization, economic growth, and social changes were natural and predictable outcomes of the shogunate philosophy. The Tokugawa period, also known as the Edo Period, found the country under the rule of the Tokugawa shoguns and the country’s 300 regional daimyo. It was characterized by economic growth, strict social orders, isolationist foreign policies, an increase in both environment protection and popular enjoyment of arts and culture. After a long stretch of deep conflict, one of the first goals of the newly established government of Tokugawa was to conciliate the country. This created a balance of power that remained and was influenced by the Confucian principles of social order. The daimyo were put under tight control of the shogunate. A system called Sankin Kotai compelled families and the daimyo themselves to dwell in Edo for a year and in their own regions for the next (East Asia, p. 280). This system allowed the shoguns to maintain control of villages and the countryside outside Edo, and to ascertain the loyalty of the daimyo to the shogun government. Three main urban areas developed during this period. Edo became the center for food supply and essential urban consumer goods, due in part to the daimyo residing there for periods of time. Osaka and Kyoto were busy trading and handcraft production centers. Urban population grew
from 1% of all Japanese people to 15% after 1700. Because of the bureaucracy based in Edo, it was a primary consumption center. Kyoto, home of the emperor and the court, was known for the manufacture of luxury goods. Osaka was a...
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