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Chapter 4

HIST 218 - Chapter Four: Tokugawa Japan

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HIST 218
Gavin Walker

Chapter Four: Tokugawa Japan − during formative years, Japan drew on Chinese models, often mediated by Korea − by Tokugawa however, it had achieved a blend of the imported and the native − under Tokugawa, Japan enjoyed peace, economic growth, vibrant urban culture, and intense intellectual life Unification (1573-1600) − though Chinese influence still deep, by middle of ninth century, Japan trajectory diverged as it alone saw the rise to dominance of a warrior class (samurai/bushi) − warriors belonged to hierarchy, with ties of vassalage culminating in a hereditary leader, the shogun − shogun power was military; his legitimacy came from the emperor, which held court in Kyoto with an aristocracy that together set standards of refined culture, even after it had lost political and economic power − shogun's seat of government was the bakufu − century of warfare (1467-1573) as feudal lords (daimyo) fought to preserve or enlarge their territories (han) − hans were centred around castle-towns, and samurai became increasingly concentrated there − “thus the fragmentation of Japan into virtually independent domains was accompanied by increased centralization within the individual domains” − unification took place through three leaders, each building on the work of his predecessor − Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) was known for brutality; upon death he controlled a third of Japan − Nobunaga's successor was Toyotomi Hideyoshi; he amassed power through warfare, marriage politics, and diplomacy − subdued strongest daimyo, Tokugawa Ieyasu, through marriage of Toyotomi's sister, and by giving Tokugawa territory in the East, to keep him at a distance − wanted to keep daimyo in their places, but he also strengthened them locally vis-a-vis their warriors and farmers − took away arms of peasants − 'class-separation' edicts: fighting men cannot become peasants/townsmen, peasants cannot leave fields and become merchants/artisans, nor vice-versa − in practice these policies were to the discretion of the local daimyo − demanded submission of Philippines by their Spanish governor, though never enforced this demand − sought conquest and empire − Tokugawa Ieyasu appointed shogun in 1603 following Hideyoshi's demise, though his supremacy was ensured in 1600, following a decisive military battle Consolidation (1600-1651) − Ieyasu devised essential political structure, building on Hideyoshi; Ieyasu's two immediate successors completed it, so that by the middle of the seventeenth century the system was in full operation − Ieyasu was leader of daimyo, but they were by no means loyal, as evidenced by Hideyoshi's failure to establish dynasty − all daimyo were the shogun's vassals, bound by solemn oath, but some were more reliable than others − Tokugawa classified them into three groups: − 'outside' or allied (tozama); least trusted, potentially dangerous, too powerful to be mere subordinates − 'house' (fudai); most trusted, raised to daimyo status by Tokugawa and thus indebted − 'collateral' (shimpan); Tokugawa branch families eligible to supply a shogun if no heir from main line − secured itself militarily by dominating central Japan (Edo; Osaka; Kyoto) and relegating outside daimyo to outlying areas − daimyo limited to one castle each, allowed only a fixed number of men-at-arms, forbidden from building large ships − daimyo even had to obtain shogunate consent for marriage plans, to prevent marriage diplomacy and alliances − through further land confiscations, Tokugawa shogunate eventually tripled holdings to about a fourth of Japan − also required daimyo to spend alternate years at Edo, as well as leaving their wife and children behind in Edo when they returned to their domains − this required daimyo to spend large sums on travel and maintenance of two residences − this requirement also cemented Edo as capital of Japan − bakufu usually interferred only when a daimyo proved incompetent, or when an issue involved more than one domain Bakufu-Han Relations − daimyo had an interest in maintaining and enlarging the decentralized aspect of the political system − under fourth shogun, Ietsuna (1651-1680), daimyos regained much lost ground − land transfers/confiscations declined drastically − daimyos even permitted to use—sometimes exclusively—their own local currencies − “vigorous but eccentric” fifth shogun, Tsunayoshi (1680-1709) presided over reassertion of bakufu power − emphasized Buddhist devotion to animals, particularly dogs − nevertheless, his period saw a flowering of culture and resurgence of centralizing activity − until end of Tokugawa, pendulum continued to swing between bakufu and han − periods of bakufu assertiveness tended to occur under vigorous shoguns working with trusted advisors; these were drawn from low- ranking retainers, unencumbered by fief or vassals − when shogun was a minor or incompetent, control over bakufu reverted to Senior Councillors, descendants of Tokugawa's most favoured and highly trusted vassals − these Councillors also often faced competing demands between bakufu and han − usually, they acted more as daimyo than as bakufu officials − by end of 18 century, 90 per cent of samurai were dependent on stipends given by daimyo lords; only 10 per cent retained local roots in the country Economic and Social Change − peace made growth possible − rise in demand to meet needs of samurai and growing expenses of daimyo − alternate attendance simulated commercialization of agriculture, whose productivity increased substantially − also saw regional specialization in cash crops − population rose from 18 mil to 30 mil by middle of Tokugawa period, though no large increase after − mortality rates low, as Japan was free from war and less susceptible to epidemics, meaning that average life span was likely longer than in premodern Europe − late marriage, custom of having only one son to marry and inherit, as well as abortion and infanticide kept population growth under control; family planning was widespread − high inequality, even at the village level − tensions between wealthy villagers and traditionally powerful houses − poor and landless peasants usually kept silent, though peasant uprisings were on he increase in late Tokugawa − in contrast to uprisings in early Tokugawa, which was often lead by village heads, uprisings in the later period were often directed against these wealthy and powerful village leaders − however, these did not threaten basic stability in a revolutionary way − “violence was a form of protest, not a means toward revolution” − peace and economic growth also led to expansion into Hokkaido, partly out of concern for Russian expansion − by end of eighteenth century, Ainu people only accounted for half of Hokkaido's population − Japan pursued policy of assimilation towards Ainu; their decline proved to be a long-term trend − also left dubious ecological legacy, as lumber shortages emerged by end of seventeenth century − merchants became rich, were the backbone of widespread commercial networks − some merchants were fully the economic equals of daimyo, and some of the great contemporary commercial/financial empires go back to early Tokugawa − by beginning of eighteenth century, Edo, Osaka, and Kyoto were the major urban centres − capitals of
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