Edo Era: 1603-1867
Toyotomi Hideyori remained an enemy of Ieyasu. Hideyori's mother wanted her son to rise to power, leaving Ieyasu with little choice but to defeat house Toyotomi once and for all. Osaka castle was attacked in 1615 as a result. There were actually two battles, the Winter Battle of 1615 and the Summer Battle of 1616.
Ieyasu dominated the Winter Battle. Hideyori agreed to destroy the outer moat of his castle. Ieyasu, though, had both the outer and inner moats destroyed, leaving the castle basically defenseless. During the Summer Battle of 1616 Hideyori's forces were defeated, he committed suicide, and the house Toyotomi was ended.
This lead to a long period of peace and growth for the country. There were no civil wars and only two major wars during the entire period. Ieyasu established his new capital at Edo which developed into present-day Tokyo.
Ieyasu was a brilliant administrator and strategist. For one thing he moved hostile daimyo to fiefs in outlying areas. Then he passed a new regulation, the Sankin Kotai. Every daimyo had to live in Edo and in the castle every other year. The families were left permanently as hostages in Edo. Since there was nothing resembling a modern transportation system this constant traveling back-and-fourth from all over the country took lots of time, time that otherwise could have been spent plotting and attacking. All the expenses, by the way, had to be paid by the daimyo themselves.
The traveling also had another effect, though. Travelers needed to rest and gradually various inns developed to meet their needs. These inns sometimes led to the development of entire towns (shukuba-machi). The road systems were improved. Various local cultures all came to Edo allowing an exchange of ideas and practices and a growth of culture overall.
During this time there were three forms of daiymo:
1. Shimpan or "related lords", people related to Ieyasu. This group lived close to the capital and held important offices in the civil government.
2. Fudai or "inner lords"- hereditary lords who controlled fiefs known as Han. These had been vassals of the Tokugawa family before Ieyasu became shogun.
3. Tozama or "outer lords"-powerful lords who were indifferent or hostile
Ieyasu also is responsible for establishing the rigid class system which is today called Shi-no-ko-sho. Once you were born into one class you could not move into another. He also established a legal code for the nobles.
The Sho from the term refers to the merchants and shopkeepers who were ranked the lowest but who ended up with the most money. The Ko referred to craftsmen. The No refers to the next highest class, the farmers and peasants. They were kept very poor due to high taxes and were not allowed to have weapons. Finally at the top were the Shi or rules with their samurai. This group ended up as bureaucrats since there was a paucity of battles during this time.
Two even lower classes were present, however. The Eta were the butchers and tanners and were considered "unclean". A modern-day term given to this group is burakumin. To this day there is discrimination against this group. As an example, someone planning to marry may have the other person's family lineage checked out to make sure that no burakumin were present.
The lowest group of all were the Hinin which meant "no-human" and were the criminals. However they could return to their class if lucky; the Eta were once and always an "unclean".
The ninja had already come about in Japan with specific schools to train new ninja. Ieyasu organized all of these under an organization called Kogi Onmitsu The ninja were used to spy on the daimyo and report any evidence of faults on their part which could lead to the shogun confiscating their territory. Daimyo had some ninja of their own but this was technically illegal.
Samurai were very loyal to their lords (even though the average Samurai was paid barely enough to survive). From time to time, though, a lord was killed and the samurai were then on their own. Such samurai were called Ronin. The fate of this group varied. Some got lucky and were hired by rich merchants as bodyguards. Others ended up becoming thieves.
A fascinating aside here. There is a Japanese story of 47 ronin of the Province of Harima. To read about them you can go here
In 1637 the daimyo who ruled the Amakusa area raised taxes. Since the area was on the western side of Japan it had come under European influence in general and Christian influence in particular. The farmers were starving and rebelled against the daimyo. The daimyo appealed to the shogun for help and the next year an army arrived and crushed the farmer's rebellion, killing their families to the last child.
Ieyasu had problems with Christianity. He had established a rigid class system, yet the Christian priests talked of human equality, leaving him with little choice but to ban Christianity from the entire country. The Shimabara Revolt in 1637 led Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third shogun, to prohibit Christianity by any means possible. In 1638 he closed the entire country to all foreign countries except for China and Holland.
This lasted until 1853 when the U.S. sent Commodore Perry to Japan to force the country to open itself to trade. The weaponry of the U.S. ships was far superior to that of the Japanese and there was almost no naval force of Japan's own. The long period of peace had also weakened the Japanese military so there was little choice but to accede to the Western demands. The commerce treaty that resulted was unfavorable to Japan but they had no choice but to accept it.
Painting described as a "Japanese beauty" from the Edo period
As a result western merchants began to come to Japan, bringing with them new things like steam engines, a capitalist economy and the concept of democracy. This lead to people losing trust in the shogunate which helped lead to its downfall in 1867.
Loyalty gradually shifted from the shogun to the Emperor. Satsuma, an area at the southern edge of Japan, and Choshu, an area with many competent leaders, united to attack the shoguns army in Kyoto but were defeated. In 1862 Satsuma declared war against England, a foolish move if there ever was one. This led to a growing acceptance of foreign presence and growing dissolution with the shogunate.
The shogun sent an army to conquer Satsuma and Chosu but lost. The Satsuma and Chosu armies were equipped with more modern materials. Kyoto later fell and the Emperor chose Satsuma and Choshu as his army and branded the shogunate and its supporters as traitors.
Again on the cultural side advancements were made. As the merchant class became rich new art forms appeared. This included haiku poetry, genre novels, puppet dramas and ukiyoe woodcut prints. Novelettes about the gay quarters, historical romances, Kabuki acting rose and education among farmers and merchants began to flourish. The education stressed Japanese national traditions rather than concentrating on Chinese traditions. New areas concentrated on included geography, medicine, astronomy, physics, chemistry and related areas.
In 1716 a book called the "Greater Learning for Women" was published. It consisted of 19 chapters telling how women should be subordinate to men, and that a woman's world should consist almost entirely of housework, reproduction and child rearing. The woman was supposed to "...look to her husband as her lord, and must serve him with all worship and reverence." She should never disobey his instructions.
Since the author figured that about 70% to 80% of girls would grow up to be less than perfectly behaved, it gave the men seven reasons to divorce their wives: if the wife was disobedient to the father- or mother-in-law; if the wife failed to bear children; if she acted lewdly or was jealous; is she got any "foul disease"; if she disturbed the harmony of the households, or if she was addicted to stealing.
The six Confucian virtues for women were obedience, purity, goodwill, frugality, modesty and diligence.
If a samurai male wanted to divorce a woman he only had to write her a letter saying he was divorcing her. The woman received any dowry she had brought with her and returned to her parent's household. Women of lower classes could flee to a "divorce temple" where they could serve for two years at the convent, after which they would be considered divorced.
The Emperor, meanwhile, had become the nominal head of state with virtually no power. Much of his time was spent with various ritual activities. He and his court lived in the Kyoto at the Katsura Imperial Villa.
This period of time is also known for its artistic works, particularly the development of the Japanese style of painting called ukiyo-e. For more information on that, go here
Two girls playing a game from the Edo period
There is also some thing called hito-bashira, or human columns. During some construction in the foundations of one of the bridges near the Imperial Palace, the Niju-bashi, some human skeletons were found. The structures dated from the Edo period. Some skeletons were standing, others reclining. They were apparently men who had volunteered to be buried alive in order to pacify some spirit or dragon or something else when some kind of difficulty arose in the building of the original foundations.
The Tokugawa Shoguns: Ieyasu (1603-1605); Hidetada(1605-1623); Iemitsu (1623-1651); Ietsuna (1651-1680); Tsunayoshi (1680-1709); Ietsugu (1713-1716); Yoshimune (1716-1745); Ieshige (1745-1760); Ieharu (1760-1786); Ienari (1787-1837); Ieyoshi (1837-1853); Iesada (1853-1858); Iemochi (1859-1866); Yoshinobu (1867-1868).
Particular dates of importance
1604: The shogunate recognizes the Matsumae family as the daimyo of a domain on the southern coast of Hokkado and confirms their right to trade with the Ainu in Ezochi.
1605: Ieyasu technically resigns as Shogun in favor of his third son, Hidetada, but in reality remains the ruler.
1607: Ieyasu normalizes relations with Korea.
1609: Dutch ships anchor at Hirado and establish a trading post.
1610: Himeji Castle is completed
1611: Dutch merchants permitted to trade in Japan
1614: Ieyasu issues an edict suppressing Christianity
1614-1615: siege of Osaka Castle; suicide of Hideyori
1615: The battle of Tennoji which was basically the last samurai field battle in Japanese history.
1616: Death of Tokugawa Ieyasu. He is succeeded by his son, Tokugawa Hidetada.
1617: Ieyasu's remains are interred Nikko. He is deified as tosho dai Gongen, "Illuminator of the East, August Avatar of Buddha."
1617: An "official" red-light district is founded near Nihonbashi, later relocated to Asakusa. This consisted of some 3,000 licensed "ladies of pleasure" working for around 200 establishments.
1620: Death of William Adams.
1622: Over fifty Christians were executed at Nagasaki.
1623: The new shogun, Iemitsu, had 50 Christians burned at the stake.
1624: Japan's first theater is opened in Edo
1629-1643:Empress Regnant Meisho,Ieyasu's granddaughter.
1633: Rebuilding of Kiyomizuderi pavilion of Seisuji near Kyoto
1635: Japanese ships prohibited from sailing abroad. Any Japanese living abroad were not allowed to return to Japan.
1635: Sankin-kotai system is established which requires daimyo to spend part of their time at the capital in Edo. It's a hostage system which lasts until 1862.
1636: Toshogu Shrine completed in Nikko.
1636: Dutch restricted to Deshima in Nagasaki Harbor.
1637: Prohibition against foreign books, European contacts prohibited, extermination of Christianity.
>1637-1638. Revolt of peasants in Shimabara peninsula. Some 37,000 of them took refuge in a castle which was bombarded from a ship load by the Dutch to the shogun. The castle fell and the defenders were massacred.
1639: the policy of seclusion is formally established.
1643: The first printed guide to the daily foods of commoners is published.
1643: Miyamoto Mushashi supposedly took residence in a cave and wrote the book Gorin no sho, "The Book of Five Rings"
1643-1654: Emperor Go-Komyo
1652: O-Dai-Ichi-Ran, "A History of Japan" by Hayashi Shunsai is published
1656: Yamaga Soko writes about Bushidoin Bukyo yoroku, "Essentials of the Warrior Code"
1657: A major fire destroys much of Edo.
1658: Government licenses one hairdresser for each of Edo's neighborhoods
1654-1663: Emperor Go-Sai
1669: Ainu leader Shakushain launches attacks on Japanese settlements in Ezochi
1663-1687: Emperor Reigen
1673: The Echigoya dry goods store (which later became the Mitsukoshi Department Store) opens in Tokyo. It was the first Japanese store with female clerks.
1675-1837: approximately twenty great famines occurred.
1684: Takemoto Gidayu begins puppet theater "Joruri"
1686: "Shusse Kagekiyo", famous puppet play by Chikamatsu Monzaemon, is given in Tokyo.
Emperor Higashiyama: 1687-1709
1687: Tokugawa Tsunayoshi becomes shogun.
1688-1704: The Genroku period during which Japanese popular culture flourished and the merchant class grew.
1700: Around this date Edo becomes the world's largest city.
1702: Yokai Yagu, poet, born. Also, the painter Ogota Korin unites the two imperial schools of painting-Kano and Yamato schools.
1703: 47 faithful samurai avenge their master who was killed by a courtier. Afterwards they all committed suicide and are buried at Sengaku-ji temple in Tokyo. The event became the subject of puppet plays, in particular the Kabuki play Chuushingura. (Another source gave the date as 1701-1702)
1705: Denbei, a Japanese shipwrecked and brought to St. Petersburg, is ordered by Peter the Great to start a school to teach Japanese. This is the first systematic attempt to teach Japanese in any country other than Japan.
1709-1735: Emperor Nakamikado
1709: Tokugawa Ienobe becomes Shogun
1713: The infant Tokugawa Ietsugu becomes Shogun.
1716: Tokugawa Yoshimune becomes Shogun.
1716: "Greater Learning for Women" is published
1733: Okyo, Japanese painter, is born.
1735-1747: Emperor Sakuramachi
1745: Tokugawa Ieshige becomes Shogun.
1747-1762: Emperor Momozono
1760: The painter Katsushika Hokusai is born.
1761: Tokugawa Ieharu becomes Shogun.
1762-1771: Empress Regnant Go-Sakuramachi
1770: The painter Suzuki Harunobu is born.
1771-1779: Emperor Go-Momozono
1774: Some Western learning, via the Dutch language, is introduced into Japan. A Japanese translation of a Dutch anatomy text is completed.
1780-1817: Emperor Kokaku
1783: The poet Yokai Yagu dies.
1795: The painter Okyo dies.
1800: A land survey of Japan is undertaken
1806: The portrait painter Kitagawa Utamaro is born.
1817-1846: Emperor Ninko
1825: The Shogunate issues the order for the Repelling of Foreign Ships.
1833: Start of Tenpo famine, which resulted in violent demonstrations in 1836; famine lasted until 1838.
1837: Rebellion in Osaka started by Oshio Heihachiro
1839: Opium trade disputes with the British.
1846-1866: Emperor Komei
1846: Two American ships sail into Uraga Bay.
1853: Commodore Matthew Perry and his four ships arrive at Uraga Bay and force Japan to open itself to trading.
1854. March 31: First Japan-U.S treaty of friendship signed.
1855, Feb.7: Japan-Russia treaty signed at Shimoda, setting the northern boundary between the two countries
1856: Townsend Harris, the first U.S. consul in Japan, arrives
1858: Treaty of Amity and Commerce is signed between the U.S. and Japan
1860: The Japanese government sends is first diplomatic delegation to the U.S.
1861: First recorded Japanese immigrant to the U.S.
1862: Japan participates in the Great International Exhibition in London.
1863: Activists in Choshu fire shore batteries at Western ships. Later the British bombard Kagoshima.
1864: Western ships open fire on Choshu domain and land troops.
1866: Riots in Edo by commoners over the price of food.
1867: The 15th and last Tokugawa shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, becomes Shogun.
1867-1912: Emperor Meiji
Three women by the Shijo River from the Edo period