Overview of Tokugawa
Timeline of Tokugawa
1500- Neither the Shogun nor the Emperor exercised any effective central authority.
1543- The Portuguese
1573- Ashikaga shogunate formally ended.
Hideyoshi defeated the other daimyo and reunified
1587- The persecution
of Christians began in
1603- The Tokugawa Shogunate was established.
1638- The shogun proscribed Christianity, prohibited the entry of foreigners into
Japan, and forbad Japanese to travel abroad.
1800- By 1800
Perry forced the Japanese to open their ports to the
1868- The Tokugawa Shogunate collapsed and was replaced by direct rule by the
Political organization: Emperor
Shogun (military dictator) who ruled in the Emperor’s name.
“Feudal” style government
Key political positions held by relatives and allies.
Military: The use of massed infantry proved effective against the traditional cavalry.
Gun-powder weapons by 1553.
Social organization: rigid, little social mobility
Traditional Confucian hierarchy: Aristocracy (incl. daimyo and samurai)
Farmers (small landholders, tenants)
Samurai subsumed into business and government functions over time.
Castles served not only as defensive sites, but as administrative and economic
Value systems: Neo-Confucianism
(native religion of
1. Both the shogun and the emperor were unable to exercise extensive authority.
2. A new landed
aristocratic class, the daimyo, dominated
a. There were around
200 quasi-independent fiefdoms in
3. As incessant warfare between daimyos progressed, small or unsuccessful daimyos
were eliminated. Later in the sixteenth century, the surviving daimyo were fewer in
number but larger than earlier ones.
1. Old class systems breaking down.
a. The lower classes gained more power as the former military class subject to the
daimyos was integrated into administrative apparatus .
2. Commercial towns grew in
importance, especially as trade with
3. The Portuguese first reached
Merchants and missionaries were soon working in
The Dutch and English were in
II. Period of Unification (1573-1603)
A. Oda Nobunaga (1534-82)
1. Nobunaga began the process of restoring central authority.
From his daimyo in central
1. The military power of Buddhist sects were dramatically reduced.
b. He created an extensive system of vassals to extend his influence.
2. He broke down internal obstacles to trade in the areas he dominated, introduced tax
reforms, and reorganized administration of his lands.
B. Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598)
1. A daimyo himself and one of Nobunaga’s generals, Hideyoshi emerged as the
dominant force in Japanese politics.
2. He reunified
a. Unable to defeat the Tokugawa daimyo, Hideyoshi brought Todugawa Ieyasu
into his camp through marriage and the granting of other favors.
b. By 1590 all surviving daimyo had sworn oaths of loyalty to Hideyoshi.
To further the pacification of
weapons. This created a permanent gap between the peasants and the warrior class.
4. Hideyoshi began to pass laws freezing social changes and reestablishing the warrior class.
a. He took the weapons from the peasantry, prohibited fighting men from becoming peasants or townsmen, prohibited peasants and merchants from leaving their occupations or places of residence.
b. In 1597 he began the persecution of Christians.
5. Hideyoshi passed laws favoring overseas trade and suppressing piracy.
6. With Hideyoshi’s death a war for succession began. Tokugawa Ieyasu emerged
victorious in 1600. Ieyasu was made shogun in 1603.
III. The Tokugawa Shogunate
A. Establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate and the securing of central authority.
1. Between 1600 and 1603 all daimyo were made vassals of Ieyasu.
2. . To control the daimyo further Ieyasu implemented a number of unique policies.
a. He created a three-tiered classification system according to which
daimyos were to treated.
b. The most loyal vassals were placed in key locations.
c. Daimyo need the shogun’s permission to marriage.
d. They were limited to only one castle, and the number of soldiers they
could command was likewise limited.
e. In order to make sure that vassals would have a hard time turning their
fiefs into independent bases of power, the daimyo were usually given
fiefs at some distance from the hereditary homes of their families. The
early shoguns transferred daimyo’s from one fief to another 281 times, and
confiscated outright another 213 fiefs.
f. The shogun also confiscated fiefs when a vassal died without leaving a
Daimyo required to spend much of the year at
While resident in their domains, hostages were left in
i. Heavy economic demands placed on daimyo such as financial support
for public works, and through the demand that they maintain multiple
j. Government inspectors toured the country keeping tabs on the daimyo.
The closing of
1. The Tokugawa shoguns persecuted Christians, drove out all Christian
missionaries, and limited European trade with
a small island in the
Europeans in 1638.
Not only were no Europeans, and few foreigners of any
kind, allowed in
but the Japanese were
prohibited from leaving
C. Real economic growth.
1. By 1800
a. The amount of cultivated land doubled.
b. Improved technologies, improved seed crops, better fertilizers.
c. Regional specialization in cash crops.
2. The Tokugawa created an efficient internal market network, so that trade
markets, and it own stock market.
1. The population grew from about 18 million circa 1600 to about 30 million in
the eighteenth century.
a. Thereafter the population fluctuated with no real growth through the end
of the shogunate.
The capital of
2. Strict social structure restored- warrior, peasant, artisan, merchant. Neo-
3. Social mobility in theory was reduced through the legislation of Hideyoshi and
the early Tokugawa shoguns.
a. However, some peasants were able to acquire land and become wealthy.
b. Merchants and commercial towns also prospered. Merchant class grew.
c. Thus social lines were often blurred in reality.
4. The samurai were hit hard by the conversion to a cash economy.
a. With the end of civil war, the samurai retainers came to fill daimyo
administrative positions rather than military ones. Others turned to study
as a way of life.
E. Culture- Intellectual orthodoxy emphasized.
1. The Tokugawa shoguns supported a revival of Neo-Confucian study.
2. At the same time, in line with their Japanese nationalism, the shoguns fostered
a huge Shinto revival.
a. The Tokugawa shoguns also emphasized the old Bushido code of the
samurai. Under the Tokugawa, this code which emphasized loyalty,
obedience and frugality was merged with neo-Confucian mores and
adapted to the new function of the samurai as bureaucrats.
3. Nonetheless, the Japanese did maintain a small school devoted to the
assimilation of “Dutch studies,” that is European learning obtained through the
4. Art (prints, painting), theater, literature, and “entertainment” all prospered in
F. Decline and destruction of the Tokugawa system:
1. The gradual weakening of the shogun’s control and the focus on Japanese
tradition led to a “rediscovery” of the emperor.
2. Simmering social, economic, and political tensions kept under the surface only
as long as central authority remained strong.
3. Very slowly Western influence grew into Western intrusion. The forced
opening of Japanese ports by the
Shogunate in 1868.
The word “Shintoism” is from the Chinese shen tao = way of the spirit. The name came about as a result of an attempt by Buddhist missionaries to label and understand the Japanese value system.
The goal of Shintoism is to promote life in harmony with the kami.
The kami are not just deities. According to Shinto tradition either 800,000 or 8 million exist. Kami may be family ancestors, national or local heroes, persons with exceptional spiritual powers, celestial bodies, topographical features such as mountains and rivers, natural forces, inspiring natural objects such as trees and rocks, animals, Buddhas and bodhisattvas. The Kami symbolize the sacred quality of all human existence, nature and the cosmos as a whole. All of reality is suffused with kami.
According to myth,
Buddhism came early to
Bushido means something like the
“military warrior way.” This code dates
Shinto revived under the
Tokugawa. This revival was an integral
part of limiting foreign influences in
Impurity results from disharmony with the kami. Disharmony with the kami produces disharmonious life for humans in both their personal and social lives. Individualism is one of the chief manifestations of disharmony with the kami, and therefore one of the great causes of disharmony in society.
Cause: Lack of Reverence
People will naturally follow the path of harmony with the kami, unless they
lose their reverence. When nature is viewed as lifeless material to be used
simply according to peoples wishes rather than as
alive, beautiful, and inspiring, people lose reverence for the kami. Then
ancestors and heroes are forgotten, and people pursue their personal happiness
at the expense of the family and society, reverence for the kami is also lost. If they lose
Reality: the Land of the Kami
Humanity, nature, and the spiritual all interact in one
balanced whole of which the linchpin is
The ultimate goal of Shintoism is
cosmic harmony, although its focus is social harmony in this world. In
The principal path to purity is through participation in temple rituals held at shrines. People visit Shinto shrines at times of family importance- birth, marriage, passage into puberty. Rites such as these conducted by priests. People will also visit shrines seeking the intervention of the kami at times of need.