The Tokugawa Shogunate defined modern Japanese history by centralizing the power of the nation's government and uniting its people. Before the Tokugawa took power in 1603, Japan suffered through the lawlessness and chaos of the Sengoku ("Warring States") period, which lasted from 1467 to 1573. Beginning in 1568, Japan's "Three Reunifiers"—Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu—worked to bring the warring daimyo back under central control. In 1603, Tokugawa Ieyasu completed the task and established the Tokugawa Shogunate, which would rule in the emperor's name until 1868. Read through the resources below to learn more about the Tokugawa Shogunate.
The Tokugawa (or Edo) Period (1603-1867) began when Tokugawa Ieyasu became shogun in 1603 after a victory at Sekigahara in 1600 and brought 200 years of stability to Japan. This article gives a very detailed look into this period of Japan's history, and includes lots of links to further reading.
Commanding shoguns and fierce samurai warriors, exotic geisha and exquisite artisans—all were part of a Japanese renaissance between the 16th and 19th centuries when Japan went from chaos and violence to a land of ritual refinement and peace. But stability came at a price: for nearly 250 years, Japan was a land closed to the Western world, ruled by the shogun under his absolute power and control. Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire brings to life the unknown story of a mysterious empire, its relationship with the West, and the forging of a nation that would emerge as one of the most important countries in the world.
Who were the shoguns and how did they rule Japan? In Japanese history, the time from about 1600 to 1868 is called the Edo period. In 1600, after centuries of wars, Japan came under the control of shoguns from the Tokugawa clan. They continued to rule until 1868, when they were overthrown. View this clip to discover how these shoguns maintained their power. This clip is first in a series of six.
This website gives a very brief overview of the Tokugawa period in Japan, including how it started and ended, and some of its cultural achievements.
A timeline of the major events during the Tokugawa Shogunate.
In the harshly controlled feudal society governed for over 250 years by the descendants of Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542–1616), creativity came not from its leaders, a conservative military class, but from the two lower classes in the Confucian social hierarchy, the artisans and merchants. Although officially denigrated, they were free to reap the economic and social benefits of this prosperous age. This article describes some of the art that flourished during this time period.
Japan may just appear as a series of islands off the east coast of the Eurasian landmass, but these islands are really big and have been thickly populated for many centuries. If you took a snapshot of Japan in 1750, you would see a prosperous country unified under a stable, centralized government. This government, called the Tokugawa Shogunate (1600-1868)^11start superscript, 1, end superscript , was led by a military ruler, called a shogun, with the help of a class of military lords, called daimyō. True, Japan was led by military elite, yet it was still a time of relative peace and stability. This article from Khan Academy describes the Tokugawa Shogunate and includes reflection questions for you to check your learning against.