Japan, Tokugawa Period


Tokugawa (tō´kōōgä´wä), family that held the shogunate (see shogun) and controlled Japan from 1603 to 1867. Founded by Ieyasu, the Tokugawa regime was a centralized feudalism. The Tokugawa themselves held approximately one fourth of the country in strategically located parcels, which they governed directly through a feudal bureaucracy. To control the daimyo [lords], who owed allegiance to the Tokugawa but were permitted to rule their own domains, the Tokugawa invented the Sankin Kotai system which required the daimyo to maintain residence at the shogun's capital in Edo (Tokyo) and to leave hostages there during their absence. Travel was closely regulated, and officials called metsuke [censors] acted as a sort of secret police. During the Tokugawa period important economic and social changes occurred: improved farming methods and the growing of cash crops stimulated agricultural productivity; Osaka and Edo became centers of expanded interregional trade; urban life became more sophisticated; and literacy spread to almost half of the male population. Failure to deal with the crises caused by threats from the West and by domestic discontent, the last Tokugawa shogun resigned in 1867. After the Meiji restoration, the Tokugawa family was allowed to hold some land in Suruga, and when the new nobility was created its head was granted the rank of prince.

See C. Totman, Politics in the Tokugawa Bakufu, 1600–1843 (1967); K. W. Nakai, Shogunal Politics: Arai Hakuseki and the Premises of Tokugawa Rule (1988); T. C. Smith, Native Sources of Japanese Industrialization, 1750–1920 (1988).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Japan, Tokugawa Period: Selected full-text books and articles

Mapping Early Modern Japan: Space, Place, and Culture in the Tokugawa Period, 1603-1868
Marcia Yonemoto.
University of California Press, 2003
Edo Culture: Daily Life and Diversions in Urban Japan, 1600-1868
Nishiyama Matsunosuke; Gerald Groemer; Gerald Groemer.
University of Hawaii Press, 1997
18th Century Japan: Culture and Society
C. Andrew Gerstle.
Curzon Press, 2000
The Maker of Modern Japan: The Life of Tokugawa Ieyasu
A. L. Sadler.
George Allen & Unwin, 1937
A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present
Andrew Gordon.
Oxford University Press, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Part 1 "Crisis of the Tokugawa Regime"
The Demography of Sociopolitical Conflict in Japan, 1721-1846
James W. White.
Institute of East Asian Studies, 1992
Confucianism and Tokugawa Culture
Peter Nosco.
University of Hawaii Press, 1997
Kaempfer's Japan: Tokugawa Culture Observed
Engelbert Kaempfer; Beatrice M. Bodart-Bailey; Beatrice M. Bodart-Bailey.
University of Hawaii Press, 1999
The Rise of the Merchant Class in Tokugawa Japan, 1600-1868: An Introductory Survey
Charles David Sheldon.
J.J. Augustin, 1958
The Collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu, 1862-1868
Conrad Totman.
University of Hawaii Press, 1980
Servants, Shophands, and Laborers in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan
Gary P. Leupp.
Princeton University Press, 1992
The Eyes of Power: Art and Early Tokugawa Authority
Karen M. Gerhart.
University of Hawaii Press, 1999
The Japanese Imperial Institution in the Tokugawa Period
Herschel Webb.
Columbia University Press, 1968
Imagining Harmony: Poetry, Empathy, and Community in Mid-Tokugawa Confucianism and Nativism
Peter Flueckiger.
Stanford University Press, 2011
Visions of Virtue in Tokugawa Japan: The Kaitokudo Merchant Academy of Osaka
Tetsuo Najita.
University of Chicago Press, 1987
Japanese Historians and the National Myths, 1600-1945: The Age of the Gods and Emperor Jinmu
John S. Brownlee.
UBC Press, 1997
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