Tokugawa Japan

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  • Topic: Tokugawa shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Edo period
  • Pages : 9 (2299 words )
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  • Published : September 29, 2014
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Adriana Vazquez 1
Tokugawa Japan
Tokugawa rule was a turning point for Japan, economically and socially. It brought about new changes and fresh ideas. Even though it was a military dictatorship in theory, it was a necessary step to advance Japan. It was established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and throughout the almost three hundred years of the regime it was run by Tokugawa shoguns. The Tokugawa period lasted from 1600 to 1867 during which time the Tokugawa family became the unchallenged rulers of Japan. Tokugawa Ieyasu was a powerful Honshu daimyo. Ieyasu rode the coat tails of his predecessor, Hideyoshi, and because Hideyoshi put Ieyasu on a five member Board of Regents he already had power and control of his own. But after Hideyoshi’s death in 1598 Ieyasu quickly seized control from the Toyotomi family. Even though Ieyasu failed to completely control the western daimyo he assumed the title of shogun which helped to form a system of alliance. When he had strengthened his base of power, he made his son, Hidetada, shogun and Ieyasu took the title ‘retired shogun’ in 1605. After he retired he devoted the next decade to tearing down and destroying the Toyotomi , the previous ruling family, who was still a great threat. The Tokugawa army finally obliterated the Toyotomi stronghold at Osaka in 1615. At the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Ieyasu had a great victory over the western daimyo. This victory gave him almost total control of Japan. After the battle Ieyasu began rapidly destroying many enemy daimyo houses, and dwindling others, like that of the Toyotomi. He redistributed the spoils of war to his family and allies. After the downfall of the Toyotomi, the Tokugawa or Edo period brought about 300 years of stability to Japan. The political system developed into national authority belonging to the shogun and regional control by the daimyo. Since this happened the Tokugawa became increasingly more powerful during Vazquez 2

their first century of rule. They had control over the most important cities, and due to land redistribution, they gained almost seven million koku or acres. Along with this land redistribution, and a land assessment system in place, they benefited from large revenues. Within the new feudal hierarchy were various classes of daimyo. The closest ones to the Tokugawa house were called the shinpan which mean ‘related houses’. There were twenty-three daimyo all directly related to Ieyasu on the borders of Tokugawa lands. The shinpan held the advisory positions and honorary titles within the new form of military government. The second class of daimyo was known as the fudai, or ‘house daimyo’. These were people rewarded with land close to the Tokugawa because of their faithfulness. The next group was comprised of ninety-seven tozama or ‘outside vassals’, which was made up of new allies and former opponents. The tozama were the least trusted of the daimyo and for that they were not included in central government positions. They were instead managed cautiously and treated generously so that no problems would arise. The Tokugawa had unprecedented power over all daimyo, religious orders, the court, and even the emperor himself. (Dolan, Japan) In 1603, Ieaysu was made shogun by the emperor and established his new government in Edo. (Z., Shogunate) The Tokugawa rebuilt the imperial family’s palaces, though, and gave them new lands. Instead of destroying them, they restored them to their former glory. Ieyasu’s granddaughter was even made an imperial consort in 1619 to make sure the bonds between the imperial clan and the Tokugawa family was unified and strong. (Dolan, Japan) The emperor of Japan at that time could be compared to the British royal family today. The emperor held no political power and his functions were strictly ritualistic. In fact when the Dutch representatives and Matthew Perry addressed the Tokugawa shogun, they referred to him as ‘emperor’. (Jansen, State)

Vazquez 3
During the reign of the...
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