This week, we’re starting our new longest ever series on the collapse of the Tokugawa shogunate and the birth of modern Japan. This week, we’re taking a look at the political situation in the Tokugawa period — how was the country carved up by Tokugawa Ieyasu? Who ruled what, and what kind of implications did that have in terms of establishing a secure and stable nation?
Listen to the episode
The Meiji Restoration.
Choshu and the Meiji Restoration.
The Making of Modern Japan.
During the Edo Period, Nagasaki remained the only point of contact between the Japanese and the West. A Dutch mission there was confined to the island of Deshima, with the exception of semi-regular expeditions to Edo to pay homage to the shogun. Here we see a Dutch ship entering Nagasaki bay; Deshima is the outcropping in the lower half of the image.
This map will help you get a feel for the locations of the major domains. However, it’s very simplified; in reality, Japan was home to 260 odd daimyo.
A daimyo in the midst of sankin kotai. The regular trips to Edo were designed to drain the finances of the major lords and thus weaken their ability to resist the Tokugawa.
A View of Mt Fuji from Nihonbashi, from Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mt. Fuji. Nihonbashi remains at the heart of modern Tokyo. Edo saw explosive growth over the course of Tokugawa rule, going from an unknown fishing village to the largest city on earth in 150 years.
A view of the Sumida river in the Edo Period. During the Edo Period, Kyoto lost all political power and was ruled directly by the Tokugawa. However, compared to the chaos of the Ashikaga and the Sengoku period, I doubt many people complained.
Osaka was the major commercial hub in the Edo Period. The national center of merchant shipping, it also housed the Junin Ryogae, or Ten Exchange Houses, the only officially sanctioned moneychangers in the nation.