A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present

By Andrew Gordon | Go to book overview

1
The Tokugawa Polity

The tumultuous changes of modern times in Japan unfolded against the backdrop of more than two centuries of unprecedented peace and social order. This era, called the Tokugawa period after the family name of Japan's military rulers between 1600 and 1868, has left a variety of images for later ages. The Tokugawa order was bolstered by harsh laws and restrictions on social and geographic mobility. Officials are said to have ruled by the motto, “Sesame seeds and peasants are very much alike. The more you squeeze them, the more you can extract from them.” 1 At the same time, the Tokugawa centuries were an era of flourishing rural production and commerce and lively city life. One careful European observer wrote in the 1690s that “an incredible number of people daily use the highways of Japan's provinces, indeed at certain times of the year they are as crowded as the streets of a populous European city.” 2

Numerous formal restrictions coexisted with an energetic, at times rambunctious, population over the Tokugawa centuries. And important changes took place. These did not set the Tokugawa system on a smooth course toward modernity, but they were important nonetheless. By the nineteenth century, the regime faced grave problems. Underemployed warriors suffered a troubling identity crisis. Established institutions and ideas seemed inadequate to deal with new pressures at home and from outside. Rulers strongly committed to maintaining order faced social tensions and protests. A look at the origins of Tokugawa society and the emergence of these problems helps one make sense of the unexpected and hardly predictable modern transformations that began when the regime eventually collapsed.


UNIFICATION

The most important feature of Tokugawa history was the absence of warfare. The contrast to what came before was immense. From 1467 to 1477, the Ōnin War destroyed the ancient capital of Kyoto, the emperor's home since 794, a beautiful city of temples and aristocratic residences. For the next century, warfare was constant. Hundreds of thousands of samurai men in arms clustered around provincial military rulers called daimyō. These regional rulers jockeyed for control of land, people, and commerce.

Although war was a dominant theme of the age, this was by no means a century

-9-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 384

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.