Tokugawa


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Related to Tokugawa: Tokugawa Ieyasu

Tokugawa

(tō'ko͞ogä`wä), family that held the shogunate (see shogunshogun
, title of the feudal military administrator who from the 12th cent. to the 19th cent. was, as the emperor's military deputy, the actual ruler of Japan. The title itself, Sei-i-tai Shogun [barbarian-subduing generalissimo], dates back to 794 and originally meant commander
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) 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 restorationMeiji restoration,
The term refers to both the events of 1868 that led to the "restoration" of power to the emperor and the entire period of revolutionary changes that coincided with the Meiji emperor's reign (1868–1912).
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, 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.

Bibliography

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).

Tokugawa

 

the third dynasty of shoguns, or military rulers of feudal Japan, which ruled from 1603 to 1867; founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The Tokugawa rulers, as part of their efforts to secure government by the nobility, instituted a series of basic reforms. These included the establishment of a system by which the rights and duties of estates were strictly regulated, as well as the attachment of peasants to the land, a restriction on the development of merchant’s and usurer’s capital, and the imposition of strict political control over Japan’s princes. Seeking to preserve feudal institutions and to prevent foreign encroachments, whether military or other, the Tokugawa government introduced during the 1630’s a policy of national isolation.

Beginning in the late 18th century, however, the Tokugawa state entered a prolonged period of change caused by the continuing disintegration of Japan’s feudal structure. The change was accelerated by the arrival in 1853 of a squadron of American warships under the command of Commodore M. Perry. The USA, together with the European powers, compelled the shogunate to end its policy of isolation by imposing on Japan the unequal Ansei treaties, concluded between 1854 and 1858. As a consequence of the incomplete bourgeois revolution of 1867–68, the Tokugawa shogunate was overthrown. A government of the landlord-bourgeois bloc thereupon acceded to power (seeMEUI RESTORATION).

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This is important because Norinaga has dominated our understanding of kokugaku scholarship, and, thus, of our understanding of a Japanese identity in formation during the Tokugawa era.