The streets of Edo by Utagawa Hiroshige (1840).

The streets of Edo by Utagawa Hiroshige (1840).

  • After the fall of Osaka Castle, the peaceful Edo period started under the rule of the Tokugawa family.
  • This is the era when the samurai started losing their prestigious social status since there were no wars.
  • In this period about 300 daimyos were ruled by the Tokugawa shogunate based in Edo (Tokyo).
  • In most of the Edo period (1639~), Japan was literally an isolated country (Sakoku).
  • No Japanese could leave the country and no foreigner could enter Japan.
  • Foreign books, foreign trade and foreign religions were banned. Missionaries were killed.
  • Only the Dutch were given a privileged status. They could temporarily stop by a a tiny island in Southern Japan.
  • Ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) and kabuki (Japanese style musicals), bunraku (Japanese puppet theater) were born and became popular in this era.
  • Kabuki artists were like rock starts, ordinary people had ukiyo-e posters of kabuki performers hung on their walls at home.
  • The samurai were still needed for personal protection and suppressing revolts.
  • Many high ranking samurai and daimyos became bureaucrats and government officials towards the end of the Edo period.
  • Some samurai were given permission to do farming
  • The light-weight hidden armors became popular. At the same time most armors produced during this period tend to be ceremonial as there were no wars.
  • During the Edo period Japan was considered to be one of the most advanced nations in the world. About 90% of the population in Tokyo could write and read, the highest rate in the world.
  • Japanese called the foreigners barbarians since they used their hands while eating and did not take daily showers unlike Japanese.

EDO PERIOD
The Tokugawa clan won a huge victory in the battle of Sekigahara (1600) and they also unified the rest of Japan within 3 years. in 1603 the emperor declared Tokugawa Ieyasu as shogun. Tokugawa already was controlling certain regions of Kanto so he chose a small fishing village as the capital. This village was called Edo which was later named Tokyo. He also started building the Nijo castle in Kyoto in 1603 to stay at when he visited the emperor in Kyoto. The Edo period practically started and ended in the Nijo Castle.
 
This is the era when the samurai started losing their prestigious social status since there were no wars. The shogun also created strict rules and manipulated local daimyos to prevent any uprising by the samurai. Strong daimyos were dispatched to faraway places and big clans were divided into smaller “han”s. It is claimed that even facial hair by samu- rai was discouraged which may mean the rebellious spirit.
 

In this period, about 200 daimyos ruled Japan led by the Tokugawa shogunate based in Edo (Tokyo). But the daimyos were not equal. Distant relative clans of the Tokugawa, called shinpan, were the highest level followed by fudai who were the allies of Tokugawa in the battle of Sekigahara. The lowest ranking was Tozama who were not allies and who were not trusted. Daimyos were required to have a house in Edo and spend every other year in the Edo city to show their loyalty.
 

To prevent any foreign influences which may damage the control of the shogunate, the shogun shut down the borders in 1639 which is called “sakoku”. Japan literally was an isolated country for about 260 years. No Japanese could leave the country and no foreigner could enter Japan. Foreign books, foreign trade and foreign religions were banned. Missionaries were killed.
 

EDO PERIOD
The shogunate created the tokaido route which was the only way to travel between Tokyo and Kyoto starting at Nihonbashi and ending at the Sanjo bridge in Kyoto. The shogunate created rules for dresses where each social class must have dressed accordingly. It was forbidden to publicly talk about current events or mention them in print media.

EDO PERIOD
Ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) became popular during this era. It was forbidden to draw any member of the Tokugawa Bakufu or any samurai clans who fought against the Tokugawa clan. Any politic reference was also banned. The samurai images in ukiyoe prints usually depict kabuki artists (e.g. red paints around the eyes and crooked eyebrows), not real samurais. The samurai were still needed for personal protection and suppressing revolts. The light-weight hidden armors became popular. At the same time most armors produced during this period tend to be ceremonial as there were no wars. The most famous armor school was the Myochin family. Most armors displayed at museums today were never worn in a battle since they are likely have been made during the Edo period.
 

EDO PERIODDuring the Edo period Japan was considered to be one of the most advanced nations in the world even with limited trade. Japanese called the foreigners barbarians since they used their hands while eating and did not take daily showers unlike Japanese. When jesuits arrived in 1650s, they tried to blend in and imitate Japanese but they still didn’t want to take a shower everyday like the Japanese did, especially in the Winter. In the 1800’s, about 90% of the population in Tokyo could write and read, the highest rate in the world.
 

Edo Period ended in 1868 after the shogun’s peaceful resignation and giving power back to the emperor at the Nijo castle. The Shogun however changed his mind a few months later but the shogun loyalists lost the Toba Fushimi battle in Kyoto. One of the first things the emperor did was to abolish the samurai system in the 1870s. The emperor also declared shinto as the national religion of Japan because he believed the Buddhist institutions endorsed and protected the samurai system.
 


 
Edo Period (1603-1868)
 
Page updated:

Contact us : info@mai-ko.com

Related posts