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Tokugawa Shogunate

  • ?
  • Tokugawa bakufu
Location of Tokugawa Shogunate
CapitalEdo, Musashi Province
(Sh?gun's residence)
(Emperor's palace)
Common languagesEarly Modern Japanese
Japanese Buddhism
GovernmentMonarchic feudal stratocracy
o 1600-1611
o 1867-1868
o 1600-1605
Tokugawa Ieyasu
o 1866-1868
Tokugawa Yoshinobu
o 1600-1614
?kubo Tadachika
o 1868
Tachibana Taneyuki
Historical eraEdo period
21 October 1600
8 November 1614
31 March 1854
29 July 1858
3 January 1868
CurrencyThe tri-metallic Tokugawa coinage system based on copper Mon, silver Bu and Shu, as well as gold Ry?.
Today part ofJapan

The Tokugawa Shogunate (?, Tokugawa bakufu), also known as the Edo Bakufu (?), was the feudal military government of Japan during the Edo period from 1600 to 1868.[3][4][3][5]

The Tokugawa Shogunate was established by Tokugawa Ieyasu after victory at the Battle of Sekigahara, ending the civil wars of the Sengoku period following the collapse of the Ashikaga Shogunate. Ieyasu became the Sh?gun and the Tokugawa clan governed Japan from Edo Castle in the eastern city of Edo (Tokyo) along with the daimy? lords of the samurai class.[6][7][8] The Tokugawa Shogunate organized Japanese society under the strict Tokugawa class system and banned most foreigners under the isolationist policies of Sakoku to promote political stability. The Tokugawa and daimy? de facto administered Japan through their system of han (feudal domains) alongside the de jure Imperial provinces. The Tokugawa Shogunate saw rapid economic growth and urbanization in Japan which led to the rise of the merchant class and Ukiyo culture. The Tokugawa Shogunate declined during the Bakumatsu ("Opening of Japan") period from 1853 and overthrown by supporters of the Imperial Court in the Meiji Restoration in 1868. The Empire of Japan was established under the Meiji government and Tokugawa loyalists continued to fight in the Boshin War until the defeat of the Republic of Ezo at the Battle of Hakodate in June 1869.


Following the Sengoku period ("warring states period"), the central government had been largely re-established by Oda Nobunaga during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. After the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, central authority fell to Tokugawa Ieyasu.[3]

Society in the Tokugawa period, unlike in previous shogunates, was supposedly based on the strict class hierarchy originally established by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The daimy? (lords) were at the top, followed by the warrior-caste of samurai, with the farmers, artisans, and traders ranking below. In some parts of the country, particularly smaller regions, daimy? and samurai were more or less identical, since daimy? might be trained as samurai, and samurai might act as local rulers. Otherwise, the largely inflexible nature of this social stratification system unleashed disruptive forces over time. Taxes on the peasantry were set at fixed amounts that did not account for inflation or other changes in monetary value. As a result, the tax revenues collected by the samurai landowners were worth less and less over time. This often led to numerous confrontations between noble but impoverished samurai and well-to-do peasants, ranging from simple local disturbances to much larger rebellions. None, however, proved compelling enough to seriously challenge the established order until the arrival of foreign powers.

A 2017 study found that peasant rebellions and collective desertion ("flight") lowered tax rates and inhibited state growth in the Tokugawa shogunate.[9]

In the mid-19th century, an alliance of several of the more powerful daimy?, along with the titular Emperor, succeeded in overthrowing the shogunate after the Boshin War, culminating in the Meiji Restoration. The Tokugawa shogunate came to an official end in 1868 with the resignation of the 15th Tokugawa shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, leading to the "restoration" (?, ?sei fukko) of imperial rule. Notwithstanding its eventual overthrow in favor of the more modernized, less feudal form of governance of the Meiji Restoration, the Tokugawa shogunate oversaw the longest period of peace and stability in Japan's history, lasting well over 260 years.


Shogunate and domains

The bakuhan taisei (?) was the feudal political system in the Edo period of Japan. Baku is an abbreviation of bakufu, meaning "military government"--that is, the shogunate. The han were the domains headed by daimy?.

Vassals held inherited lands and provided military service and homage to their lords. The bakuhan taisei split feudal power between the shogunate in Edo and provincial domains throughout Japan. Provinces had a degree of sovereignty and were allowed an independent administration of the han in exchange for loyalty to the sh?gun, who was responsible for foreign relations and national security. The sh?gun and lords were all daimy?s: feudal lords with their own bureaucracies, policies, and territories. The sh?gun also administered the most powerful han, the hereditary fief of the House of Tokugawa. Each level of government administered its own system of taxation.

Edo Castle, 17th century

The emperor, nominally a religious leader, held no real power; this was vested in the sh?gun. The shogunate had the power to discard, annex, and transform domains. The sankin-k?tai system of alternative residence required each daimy? to reside in alternate years between the han and the court in Edo. During their absences from Edo, it was also required that they leave family as hostages until their return. The huge expenditure sankin-k?tai imposed on each han helped centralize aristocratic alliances and ensured loyalty to the sh?gun as each representative doubled as a potential hostage.

Tokugawa's descendants further ensured loyalty by maintaining a dogmatic insistence on loyalty to the sh?gun. Fudai daimy? were hereditary vassals of Ieyasu, as well as of his descendants. Tozama ("outsiders") became vassals of Ieyasu after the Battle of Sekigahara. Shinpan ("relatives") were collaterals of Tokugawa Hidetada. Early in the Edo period, the shogunate viewed the tozama as the least likely to be loyal; over time, strategic marriages and the entrenchment of the system made the tozama less likely to rebel. In the end, it was the great tozama of Satsuma, Ch?sh? and Tosa, and to a lesser extent Hizen, that brought down the shogunate. These four states are called the Four Western Clans, or Satchotohi for short.[10]

The number of han (roughly 250) fluctuated throughout the Edo period. They were ranked by size, which was measured as the number of koku of rice that the domain produced each year. One koku was the amount of rice necessary to feed one adult male for one year. The minimum number for a daimy? was ten thousand koku; the largest, apart from the sh?gun, was a million.

Relations with the Emperor

Social class during the Shogunate with the Emperor as the nominal ruler

Regardless of the political title of the Emperor, the sh?guns of the Tokugawa family controlled Japan.[11] The administration (, taisei) of Japan was a task given by the Imperial Court in Kyoto to the Tokugawa family, which returned to the court in the Meiji Restoration. While the Emperor officially had the prerogative of appointing the sh?gun, he had virtually no say in state affairs. The shogunate appointed a liaison, the Kyoto Shoshidai (Shogun's Representative in Kyoto), to deal with the Emperor, court and nobility.

Towards the end of the shogunate, however, after centuries of the Emperor having very little say in state affairs and being secluded in his Kyoto palace, and in the wake of the reigning sh?gun, Tokugawa Iemochi, marrying the sister of Emperor K?mei (r. 1846-1867), in 1862, the Imperial Court in Kyoto began to enjoy increased political influence.[12] The Emperor would occasionally be consulted on various policies and the shogun even made a visit to Kyoto to visit the Emperor.

Shogun and foreign trade

Dutch trading post in Dejima, c. 1805

Foreign affairs and trade were monopolized by the shogunate, yielding a huge profit. Foreign trade was also permitted to the Satsuma and the Tsushima domains. Rice was the main trading product of Japan during this time. Isolationism was the foreign policy of Japan and trade was strictly controlled. Merchants were outsiders to the social hierarchy of Japan and were thought to be greedy.

The visits of the Nanban ships from Portugal were at first the main vector of trade exchanges, followed by the addition of Dutch, English and sometimes Spanish ships.

From 1603 onward, Japan started to participate actively in foreign trade. In 1615, an embassy and trade mission under Hasekura Tsunenaga was sent across the Pacific to Nueva España (New Spain) on the Japanese-built galleon San Juan Bautista. Until 1635, the Shogun issued numerous permits for the so-called "red seal ships" destined for the Asian trade.

After 1635 and the introduction of Seclusion laws, inbound ships were only allowed from China, Korea, and the Netherlands.

Shogun and Christianity

Christian prisoners in Edo, 17th century

Followers of Christianity first began appearing in Japan during the 16th century. Oda Nobunaga embraced Christianity and the Western technology that was imported with it, such as the musket. He also saw it as a tool he could use to suppress Buddhist forces.[13]

Though Christianity was allowed to grow until the 1610s, Tokugawa Ieyasu soon began to see it as a growing threat to the stability of the shogunate. As ?gosho ("Cloistered Sh?gun"),[14] he influenced the implementation of laws that banned the practice of Christianity. His successors followed suit, compounding upon Ieyasu's laws. The ban of Christianity is often linked with the creation of the Seclusion laws, or Sakoku, in the 1630s.[15]

Institutions of the shogunate

R?j? and wakadoshiyori

The r?j? () were the senior members of the shogunate. They supervised the ?metsuke, machi-bugy?, ongokubugy? [ja] (?) and other officials, oversaw relations with the Imperial Court in Kyoto, kuge (members of the nobility), daimy?, Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, and attended to matters like divisions of fiefs. Normally, four or five men held the office, and one was on duty for a month at a time on a rotating basis. They conferred on especially important matters. In the administrative reforms of 1867 (Kei? Reforms), the office was eliminated in favor of a bureaucratic system with ministers for the interior, finance, foreign relations, army, and navy.

Sakuradamon Gate of Edo Castle where Ii Naosuke was assassinated in 1860

In principle, the requirements for appointment to the office of r?j? were to be a fudai daimy? and to have a fief assessed at koku or more. However, there were exceptions to both criteria. Many appointees came from the offices close to the sh?gun, such as soba y?nin [ja] (), Kyoto Shoshidai, and Osaka j?dai.

Irregularly, the sh?guns appointed a r?j? to the position of tair? (great elder). The office was limited to members of the Ii, Sakai, Doi, and Hotta clans, but Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu was given the status of tair? as well. Among the most famous was Ii Naosuke, who was assassinated in 1860 outside the Sakuradamon Gate of Edo Castle (Sakuradamon incident).

The wakadoshiyori were next in status below the r?j?. An outgrowth of the early six-man rokuninsh? (, 1633-1649), the office took its name and final form in 1662, but with four members. Their primary responsibility was management of the affairs of the hatamoto and gokenin, the direct vassals of the sh?gun.

Some sh?guns appointed a soba y?nin. This person acted as a liaison between the sh?gun and the r?j?. The soba y?nin increased in importance during the time of the fifth sh?gun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, when a wakadoshiyori, Inaba Masayasu, assassinated Hotta Masatoshi, the tair?. Fearing for his personal safety, Tsunayoshi moved the r?j? to a more distant part of the castle. Some of the most famous soba y?nin were Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu and Tanuma Okitsugu.

?metsuke and metsuke

The ?metsuke and metsuke were officials who reported to the r?j? and wakadoshiyori. The five ?metsuke were in charge of monitoring the affairs of the daimy?s, kuge and imperial court. They were in charge of discovering any threat of rebellion. Early in the Edo period, daimy?s such as Yagy? Munefuyu held the office. Soon, however, it fell to hatamoto with rankings of 5,000 koku or more. To give them authority in their dealings with daimy?s, they were often ranked at 10,000 koku and given the title of kami (an ancient title, typically signifying the governor of a province) such as Bizen-no-kami.

As time progressed, the function of the ?metsuke evolved into one of passing orders from the shogunate to the daimy?s, and of administering to ceremonies within Edo Castle. They also took on additional responsibilities such as supervising religious affairs and controlling firearms. The metsuke, reporting to the wakadoshiyori, oversaw the affairs of the vassals of the sh?gun. They were the police force for the thousands of hatamoto and gokenin who were concentrated in Edo. Individual han had their own metsuke who similarly policed their samurai.


The san-bugy? ("three administrators") were the jisha, kanj?, and machi-bugy?, which oversaw temples and shrines, accounting, and the cities, respectively. The jisha-bugy? had the highest status of the three. They oversaw the administration of Buddhist temples (ji) and Shinto shrines (sha), many of which held fiefs. Also, they heard lawsuits from several land holdings outside the eight Kant? provinces. The appointments normally went to daimy?s; ?oka Tadasuke was an exception, though he later became a daimy?.

The kanj?-bugy? were next in status. The four holders of this office reported to the r?j?. They were responsible for the finances of the shogunate.[16]

The machi-bugy? were the chief city administrators of Edo and other cities. Their roles included mayor, chief of the police (and, later, also of the fire department), and judge in criminal and civil matters not involving samurai. Two (briefly, three) men, normally hatamoto, held the office, and alternated by month.

Three Edo machi bugy? have become famous through jidaigeki (period films): ?oka Tadasuke and T?yama Kagemoto (Kinshir?) as heroes, and Torii Y?z? (ja:?) as a villain.

Tenry?, gundai and daikan

The san-bugy? together sat on a council called the hy?j?sho. In this capacity, they were responsible for administering the tenry?, supervising the gundai (), the daikan () and the kura bugy? (), as well as hearing cases involving samurai.

The shogun directly held lands in various parts of Japan. These were known as shihaisho (); since the Meiji period, the term tenry? (, "Emperor's land") has become synonymous.[17] In addition to the territory that Ieyasu held prior to the Battle of Sekigahara, this included lands he gained in that battle and lands gained as a result of the Summer and Winter Sieges of Osaka. By the end of the seventeenth century, the shogun's landholdings had reached four million koku. Such major cities as Nagasaki and Osaka, and mines, including the Sado gold mine, also fell into this category.

Gaikoku bugy?

The gaikoku bugy? were administrators appointed between 1858 and 1868. They were charged with overseeing trade and diplomatic relations with foreign countries, and were based in the treaty ports of Nagasaki and Kanagawa (Yokohama).

Late Tokugawa shogunate (1853-1867)

The late Tokugawa shogunate (Japanese: Bakumatsu) was the period between 1853 and 1867, during which Japan ended its isolationist foreign policy called sakoku and modernized from a feudal shogunate to the Meiji government. It is at the end of the Edo period and preceded the Meiji era. The major ideological and political factions during this period were divided into the pro-imperialist Ishin Shishi (nationalist patriots) and the shogunate forces, including the elite shinsengumi ("newly selected corps") swordsmen.

Although these two groups were the most visible powers, many other factions attempted to use the chaos of the Bakumatsu era to seize personal power.[18] Furthermore, there were two other main driving forces for dissent; first, growing resentment of tozama daimy?s, and second, growing anti-Western sentiment following the arrival of Matthew C. Perry. The first related to those lords who had fought against Tokugawa forces at Sekigahara (in 1600) and had from that point on been exiled permanently from all powerful positions within the shogunate. The second was to be expressed in the phrase sonn? j?i ("revere the Emperor, expel the barbarians"). The end for the Bakumatsu was the Boshin War, notably the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, when pro-shogunate forces were defeated.[19]

List of Tokugawa sh?guns

# Picture Name
Sh?gun From Sh?gun Until
1 Tokugawa Ieyasu2 full.JPG Tokugawa Ieyasu
1603 1605
2 Hidetada2.jpg Tokugawa Hidetada
1605 1623
3 Iemitu.jpg Tokugawa Iemitsu
1623 1651
4 Tokugawa Ietsuna.jpg Tokugawa Ietsuna
1651 1680
5 Tsunyaoshi.jpg Tokugawa Tsunayoshi
1680 1709
6 Tokugawa Ienobu.jpg Tokugawa Ienobu
1709 1712
7 Tokugawa ietsugu.jpg Tokugawa Ietsugu
1713 1716
8 Tokugawa Yoshimune.jpg Tokugawa Yoshimune
1716 1745
9 Tokugawa Ieshige.jpg Tokugawa Ieshige
1745 1760
10 Tokugawa Ieharu.jpg Tokugawa Ieharu
1760 1786
11 Tokugawa Ienari.jpg Tokugawa Ienari
1787 1837
12 Tokugawa Ieyoshi.JPG Tokugawa Ieyoshi
1837 1853
13 Tokugawa Iesada.jpg Tokugawa Iesada
1853 1858
14 Tokugawa Iemochi by Kawamura Kiyoo (Tokugawa Memorial Foundation).jpg Tokugawa Iemochi
1858 1866
15 Tokugawa Yoshinobu by Kawamura Kiyoo.jpg Tokugawa Yoshinobu
1866 1867

Family Tree

Over the course of the Edo period, influential relatives of the shogun included:

See also


  1. ^ Emperor Go-Y?zei started reigning in 1586, after the abdication of Emperor ?gimachi.
  2. ^ Emperor Meiji reigned until his death in 1912.
  3. ^ a b c Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Tokugawa-jidai" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 978.
  4. ^ Nussbaum, "Edo-jidai" at p. 167.
  5. ^ Nussbaum, "Kinsei" at p. 525.
  6. ^ Nussbaum, "Shogun" at pp. 878-879.
  7. ^ Nussbaum, "Tokugawa" at p. 976.
  8. ^ Nussbaum, "Edo-jidai" at p. 167.
  9. ^ Paik, Christopher; Steele, Abbey; Tanaka, Seiki (2017). "Constraining the Samurai: Rebellion and Taxation in Early Modern Japan" (PDF). International Studies Quarterly. 61 (2): 352-370. doi:10.1093/isq/sqx008.
  10. ^ Nussbaum, "Satchotohi", pp. 826-827.
  11. ^ Jansen 2002, pp. 144-148.
  12. ^ Keene, Donald Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912 (2005, Columbia University Press) p. 62
  13. ^ Chie Nakane and Shinzaburou Oishi (1990). Tokugawa Japan - The Social and Economic Antecedents of Modern Japan. University of Tokyo Press. pp.12.
  14. ^ Nussbaum, "Ogosho" at p. 738.
  15. ^ Chie Nakane and Shinzaburou Oishi (1990). Tokugawa Japan: The Social and Economic Antecedents of Modern Japan. University of Tokyo Press. pp.24-28.
  16. ^ Nussbaum, "Kanj? bugy?" at p. 473.
  17. ^ Nussbaum, "Tenry?", p. 961.
  18. ^ Shinsengumi, The Shogun's Last Samurai Corps, Romulus, Hillsborough, Tuttle Publishing, 2005
  19. ^ Ravina, Mark (2004).Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori. John Wiley & Sons, 2004
  20. ^ ()?(). Reichsarchiv (in Japanese). Retrieved 2014.
  21. ^ Nussbaum, "Tokugawa Mitsukuni" at p. 979.
  22. ^ Nussbaum, "Tokugawa Nariaki" at p. 979.
  23. ^ Nussbaum, "Tayasu" at p. 954.
  24. ^ Nussbaum, "Matsudaira Katamori" at p. 616.
  25. ^ Nussbaum, "Matsudaira Sadanobu" at p. 617.


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies website http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/.

Further reading

  • Bolitho, Harold. (1974). Treasures Among Men: The Fudai Daimyo in Tokugawa Japan. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-01655-0; OCLC 185685588
  • Totman, Conrad. The Collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu, 1862-1868. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1980.
  • Totman, Conrad. Politics in the Tokugawa Bakufu, 1600-1843. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967.
  • Waswo, Ann Modern Japanese Society 1868-1994
  • The Center for East Asian Cultural Studies Meiji Japan Through Contemporary Sources, Volume Two 1844-1882

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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