Places, Images, Times & Transformations

Edo period

(1600-1868) The Edo period, also called the Tokugawa period, dates from 1600, when Tokugawa Ieyasu defeated his principal rivals in the Battle of Sekigahara, to 1868, the year of the Meiji Restoration. One of the major epochs of Japanese history, the Edo period is distinguished by the fact that for more than two centuries, Japan enjoyed freedom from warfare at home and abroad. Despite authoritarian administration and a policy of national seclusion, Japan experienced significant political, social, economic, and cultural change during this period. The Edo period witnessed the stabilization of the system of local rule by military lords (daimyō) under strong shogunal authority, vested in this case in the Tokugawa family. A self-conscious ruling class of samurai monopolized all functions of government above the level of village and town. Under them, the Tokugawa shogunate defined separate classes of farmers, artisans, and merchants. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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