Little Bits of History

Tokugawa Shogunate

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 3, 2010

Last Shogun of Japan Tokugawa Yoshinobu in French uniform

January 3, 1868: The Tokugawa shogunate ends. Tokugawa Ieyasu started this third line of shoguns in 1603. His family retained power of Japan, ruling from Edo castle in the present-day city of Tokyo. Tokugawa consolidated power after the Sengoku Period of “warring states.”  By winning the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, he completed a centralization process and was declared shogun in 1603.

This shogunate was a totally hierarchical system. Soldiers known as Samurai, were at the top with farmers, artisans, and traders following. Since the unification led to a lessening of war possibilities, the rules for Samurai were written to include such cultural aspects of society as Noh [theater], Music, and Calligraphy. The Emperor of Japan was still the titular ruler of the country.

The shogun ruled globally throughout Japan while daimyo ruled locally at their regional sites. The daimyo were under control of the shogun with their families living in Edo while they ruled in the provinces.

The Edo Period is considered to be the beginning of modern day Japan. This was a time of urbanization and foreign commerce. It was also a time of Western influence in the arts and sciences. The fall of the shogunate was due in part to this interference of the outside world. Foreign warships were attacking from without and increased wealth and power of the entrepreneurial class was trying to wrest power from within. Unrest among the daimyo further toppled the power base of the shogunate. With the support of disaffected daimyos, the Meiji dynasty was restored to power on this date.

“For some reason, I grew up generally believing that Japan and Korea were quite friendly. I do know that there is some bad history and the extremists on both sides are unreasonable.” – Joichi Ito [Note: Japan first invaded Korea in 1592.]

“One who is a Samurai must before all things keep constantly in mind, by day and by night: the fact that he has to die” – unknown

“A samurai should always be prepared for death – whether his own or someone else’s” – Stan Sakai

“If thou knowest only what it is to conquer, and knowest not what it is to be defeated, woe unto thee; it will fare ill with thee.” – Tokugawa Ieyasu

Also on this day, in 1338 the British flag was once again raised over the Falkland Islands.

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  1. Slurrrppp! « Little Bits of History said, on January 3, 2011 at 6:54 am

    […] on this day: Tokugawa Shogunate – In 1868, the Tokugawa shogunate ended. Falkland Islands – In 1833, the Falklands came […]


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