How did the economy of Japan change during the Tokugawa era?

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The long period of peace under the Tokugawa shogunate made a dramatic rise in commerce and manufacturing, especially, especially in the growing cities. By the mid-eighteenth-century, edo was one of the largest cities in the world. The growth of trade and industry was stimulated by a rising standard of living and the voracious appetites of the aristocrats for new products. The daimyos need for income also contributed as many of them began to promote the sale of local goods from their domains. Most of the commercial expansion took place in the major cities and the caste towns, where the merchants and artisans lived along with the samurai, who were cluttered in neighborhoods surrounding the daimyos castle. Baking flourished and paper money became the normal medium exchange in commercial transactions. Merchants formed guilds not only to control market conditions but also in facilitate government control and the collection taxes. Under the benign if somewhat contemptuous supervision of Japan’s noble rulers, a Japanese merchant class gradually began to emerge from the shadows to play a significant role in the life of the Japanese nation. Some historians view the Tokugawa as the first stage in the rise of an indigenous form of capitalism based loosely on the Western model. Eventually the increased pace of industrial activity spread beyond the cities into rural areas. As in Great Britain, cotton was a major factor. Cotton had been introduced to china during the Song dynasty and had spread to Korea and Japan shortly thereafter. Traditionally cotton cloth had been too expensive to common people, who instead wore clothing made of hemp. Imports increased during the sixteenth century when cotton cloth began to be used for uniforms, matchlock fuses, and sails. Eventually, technological advances reduced the cost, and specialized communities for producing cotton cloth began to appear in the countryside and were gradually transformed into towns. By the eighteenth century cotton...
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