(domain). The basic unit of provincial government under the bakuhan system during the Edo period (1600-1868). Although often translated as "domain" or "daimyō domain," the term han refers not only to the land entrusted to a daimyō by the Tokugawa Shogunate but also to its military, administrative, and fiscal superstructure. Early in the 17th century Tokugawa Ieyasu acknowledged the existence of 185 domains, and they grew in number and stabilized at around 260 during the 18th century. Each domain was assigned directly by the shogun and was in the charge of a daimyō (lord). Each daimyō was expected to meet the expenses of service to the head of the Tokugawa house. The domains varied widely in size, geographical configuration, productivity, political structure, and degree of political independence. While the domains and the loyalties based upon them remained paramount, Japan could not achieve true national unification during the Edo period. Achieving this would require a political and social crisis which culminated in the Meiji Restoration of 1868, in which both the shogunate and the domains were abolished. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)
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