Skip to main content
The Cambridge History of Japan
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 2
  • Cited by
    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Zhong, Yijiang 2017. Freedom, Religion and the Making of the Modern State in Japan, 1868–89. Asian Studies Review, Vol. 38, Issue. 1, p. 53.

    Gomez, Christopher and Hart, Deirdre E 2017. Disaster gold rushes, sophisms and academic neocolonialism: comments on ‘Earthquake disasters and resilience in the global North’. The Geographical Journal, Vol. 179, Issue. 3, p. 272.

  • Export citation
  • Recommend to librarian
  • Recommend this book

    Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

    The Cambridge History of Japan
    • Online ISBN: 9781139055093
    • Book DOI:
    Please enter your name
    Please enter a valid email address
    Who would you like to send this to? *
  • Buy the print book

Book description

Volume 5 of The Cambridge History of Japan provides the most comprehensive account available in any Western language of Japan's transformation from a feudal society to a modern nation state. It traces the roots and course of political, social, and institutional change that took place in Japan from late Tokugawa times to the early twentieth century. During this period Japan, under pressure from the intrusive West, abandoned its policy of national seclusion and remodeled its institutions to build the strength necessary to join the great powers and to fashion an empire in East Asia. The volume consists of an interrelated collection of authoritative and analytical chapters by specialists in the history of nineteenth-century Japan that discuss the fissures in late feudal society, the impact of and responses to the West, the overthrow of the shogunal government, and the revolutionary changes that were instituted as defensive measures to strengthen the country against what seemed a dangerous competition with the Western world.


    • Aa
    • Aa
Refine List
Actions for selected content:
Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Send to Kindle
  • Send to Dropbox
  • Send to Google Drive
  • Send content to

    To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to .

    To send content to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

    Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

    Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

    Please be advised that item(s) you selected are not available.
    You are about to send:

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.
  • 1 - Japan in the early nineteenth century
    pp 50-115
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    The first third of the nineteenth century in Japan was dominated by personalities and policies that appeared on the scene in the last decade of the eighteenth century. The eleventh shogun, Tokugawa Ienari, had a fifty-year incumbency, and his reign began with the reforms of Matsudaira Sadanobu. Most of Sadanobu's policies with respect to education and administrative competence outlived his tenure as regent. The Kansei reforms made important and permanent marks on nineteenth-century cultural and institutional life. The Bunka-Bunsei decades witnessed significant shifts in urban concentrations. Osaka and Kyoto, the metropolises of the Kansai, ceased to grow and had begun to lose population. Artists of the period left a record of a peaceful and smiling countryside that has attracted travelers ever since. Nineteenth-century governments were troubled by their awareness of the growth of comparable commercialism throughout the countryside, especially near the great cities of Osaka and Edo.
  • 2 - The Tempō crisis
    pp 116-167
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    On the sixteenth day of the twelfth month of the year 1830, Japan entered a new era, which was termed as Tempō era or a period of Heavenly Protection. However, a famine struck Japan soon after, which reached its height in 1836-7. The effects of the Tempō famine were felt everywhere. They were felt first in the countryside, where those whose crops had failed were forced to compete for dwindling supplies with such little cash as they could muster. Popular unrest had always mushroomed during famines, and the 1830s proved to be no exception. What was now exceptional was the depth of the resentment displayed. In the midst of the mounting unrest, Japan had to confront yet another difficulty, a threat from abroad. The West was drawing nearer, as the ever-more frequent sightings of foreign vessels in Japanese waters attested. The Tempō crisis was followed by reforms expressed variously as kaikaku, kaishin, or chūkō.
  • 3 - Late Tokugawa culture and thought
    pp 168-258
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    Japanese historiography has conventionally located the beginning of the end of the Tokugawa (bakumatsu) in the decade of the 1830s. However, the special culture of late Tokugawa culture probably began in the late eighteenth century or the early 1800s itself. The problem of defining cultural context and finding an adequate political form for it was engaged first by a generation of samurai intellectuals from the Mito domain. The sanction for the Mito effort to resolve the contemporary crisis lay in the reunification of learning and doctrine. On the practice of worships, Hirata Atsutane, struck hard against contemporary preoccupations with poetic parody, wordplay, and gesaku fiction. In 1830, people went to pilgrimages for many reasons; for having a good time, but many were driven by hopes of divine relief, assistance, and the desire for good fortune. In the late Tokugawa period, Dutch studies created the possibility of a new discourse, which emphasized maritime defense and national wealth.
  • 4 - The foreign threat and the opening of the ports
    pp 259-307
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    The second half of the eighteenth century witnessed a new phase of European expansion for developing a profitable trade with East Asia. Japan was committed to a policy of national isolation dating from the seventeenth century. In the next fifty years or so, trade became the main focus of Western economic penetration in East Asia and the raison d'etre for a set of institutional relationships, known as the treaty port system, which was extended to China and its neighbours including Japan. Writers such as Hayashi Shihei and Honda Toshiaki urged far-reaching changes in Japanese society for strengthening it against the foreign threat. However, Japan signed a series of commercial treaties during the 1857-58 period first with America, and then, based on that model, with the Dutch, Russians, the British, and the French. The opening of Japanese ports to trade from July 1859 was accompanied by changes in the role of the various Western powers in the country's foreign relations.
  • 5 - The Meiji Restoration
    pp 308-366
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    The Meiji Restoration stands as one of the turning points of Japanese history. Leaders of the Meiji Restoration undertook a series of vigorous steps to build national strength under capitalist institutions and rapidly propelled their country on the road to regional and world power. Japan's political crisis of the 1860s was preceded by internal difficulties and foreign danger that brought to mind formulations of Chinese historians who coupled internal decline with border incursions. The Commercial Treaty of 1858 negotiated by Townsend Harris marked the real opening of Japan to trade and residence. The purge that the fudai daimyo of Hikone, Ii Naosuke undertook had resulted in his murder; the persecuted loyalists had retaliated by assassinating the chief bakufu minister. These events ushered in a period of violence and terror that transformed the setting of late Tokugawa politics. The foreign presence provoked antiforeign incidents, and the evidence of foreign influence fed a sense of danger and crisis among the Japanese elite.
  • 6 - Opposition movements in early Meiji, 1868–1885
    pp 367-431
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    Like all modern era revolutions, the Meiji Restoration generated intense opposition from groups and classes displaced and disadvantaged by revolutionary change. There were 343 incidents between 1868 and 1872. Peasant protests increased steadily at the end of Tokugawa, and reached a historical peak of 110 in 1869. After abolishing the feudal domains in 1871, the Meiji leadership grappled with the problem of how to reform the feudal land tax system to meet the demands of national development. Viewed as the organized, political response of a dispossessed social class, the half-dozen shizoku rebellions between 1874 and 1877 can be explained as the predictably violent reaction of a traditional elite displaced by a modern revolution. Espousing liberty, equality, and the right to elect government officials, the People's Rights movement brought together at various times former Restoration leaders and intellectuals, urbanites and villagers, shizoku and wealthy commoners, and, finally, radicals and impoverished farmers for opposing the oligarchic rule.
  • 7 - Japan's turn to the west
    pp 432-498
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    Japan woke up from two hundred years of national isolation in the last half of the nineteenth century to realize one goal: the establishment of a modern nation-state, and symbolizing the country's turn to the West. Chinese books, including Chinese translations of Western works, were imported every year from Ch'ing China. The travels of the superintendent of the Nagasaki outpost of the Dutch East India Company enabled conveying of information to Japanese doctors and astronomers, thus facilitating direct contact with representatives of European civilization. With an eighty-year history of Dutch studies behind them, many Japanese grew dissatisfied with relying solely on books to learn about the West. The travels of Yoshida Shoin and Niijima Jo were a part of the late Tokugawa phenomenon, an urge to experience the West directly. Japan's use of foreign employees in late Tokugawa and early Meiji times presents an interesting and useful perspective on the larger "turn to the West" policy.
  • 8 - Social change
    pp 499-568
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    Japan's nineteenth-century history is the crossroads for three overlapping, but normally distinct, perspectives on social change. Each perspective constitutes a search, respectively: for the origins of rapid modernization; for the unraveling of the premodern social order; and for the consequences of sweeping reforms. Explanations of social change center on the competition for income, power, and prestige among three social classes (the ruling class, the bourgeoisie, and the peasantry) and on the relationships of groups within each of them. Social stratification among the merchant population became even more complex as each of the competing groups lingered on with its own sphere of operations. The level of urbanization in Japan remained fairly constant from the early eighteenth century until the 1880s, but there were many signs of significant changes in the cities and in urban-rural relations. The chapter also examines the basic structure of Japan's family system in order to establish the context in which household decisions were made.
  • 9 - Economic change in the nineteenth century
    pp 569-617
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Japan was a preindustrial agricultural economy with technology and living standards not greatly different from those of other preindustrial areas of Asia. This chapter describes the economic system as a whole and the changes in the way that system operated in the nineteenth-century Japan. Although the theories of the political economy of Tokugawa Japan were predicated on subsistence farming with all the surplus being drawn off in taxes, urban consumption centers had to be supplied with food, clothing, fuel, and other necessities. The reforms of the Tempō era represented a series of attempts by the Tokugawa bakufu to salvage its system of economic controls and adapt it to changing economic conditions. Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in 1853 with instructions to open Japan to foreign trade. The prospect of foreign trade and its actual opening in 1859 dominated the economic as well as the political life of Japan until the Meiji Restoration and beyond.
  • 10 - Meiji political institutions
    pp 618-673
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    The overthrow of the Tokugawa in 1867-68 carried implications of important changes in the political institutions of Japan, as well as in the location of power. Japanese tradition and recent history ensured that it must focus on the emperor, but devising institutions appropriate to it was to take a whole generation, that is, until the promulgation of the constitution in 1889 and the associated regulations concerning central and local government. In its early decisions, the Meiji government manifested a readiness to conciliate the widest possible spectrum of political views. A variety of arguments in favor of abolishing the domains (liaihari) was being pressed on the Meiji government in 1868-9. Diplomats like Sir Harry Parkes, the British minister, had reasons for recommending it. The surrender of domain registers had been followed on August 15, 1869, by a major restructuring of the central government, of which the chief characteristic was a further strengthening of the executive.
  • 11 - Meiji conservatism
    pp 674-720
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    The Meiji period bequeathed to modern Japan a powerful conservative tradition that dominated government and society in the twentieth century. The beginnings of a coherent conservative philosophy depended on a reasoned response to the premises of the bummei kaika. Above all, it was the challenge that the Enlightenment offered to fundamental Japanese social institutions and values that evoked the beginnings of Meiji conservatism. Revision of the unequal treaties was one of the prime political issues whose influence was felt in both domestic and foreign affairs. This forced the conservatives to define their views of the Japanese nation. Bureaucratic conservatism meant the people should be brought into the governing process to achieve national unity. Thus, conservatives in Japan favored popular participation in local government, a national assembly, and, later, universal suffrage. One of the most impressive manifestations of social policy thought in the bureaucracy's approach to rural society was its promotion of agricultural cooperatives.
  • 12 - Japan's drive to great-power status
    pp 721-782
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    Nothing is more striking, in tracing Meiji Japan's foreign affairs, than the fact that the Meiji period coincided with the emergence of several modern states. Mass incorporation into the new polity grew quickly. This took various forms, ranging from a comprehensive system of population registers to universal military conscription. The awareness that domestic and external affairs were intimately linked was always present during the Tokugawa era. Hence, from the beginning the Meiji regime established control over foreign affairs as a prerequisite for consolidating its power at home. China, Japan, and Korea were among the few noncolonized states in 1880, but by 1895 China and Korea had lost part of their sovereignty, thanks largely to Japanese expansionism. Many writers asserted that expansion in the south recalling the memories of Japanese activities in the Philippines, Siam, and elsewhere in the sixteenth century, would prove to be the answer not only to Japan's population problem but also to its quest for great-power status.

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Robert L. Backus The Motivation of Confucian Orthodoxy in Tokugawa Japan.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 39 (December 1979):.

C. R. Boxer Jan Compagnie in Japan 1600–1850. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1950.

Theda Skocpol States and Social Revolutions (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1979).

Haruko Iwasaki . “Portrait of a Daimyo: Comical Fiction by Matsudaira Sadanobu.Monumenta Nipponica 38 (Spring 1983):.

Marius B. Jansen New Materials for the Intellectual History of Nineteenth Century Japan.Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 20 (December 1957):.

David Landes Some Thoughts on the Nature of Economic Imperialism,” Journal of Economic History 21 (1961).

Ronald P. Toby State and Diplomacy in Early Modern Japan: Asia in the Development of the Tokugawa Bakufu. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1984.

Marius B. Jansen Rangaku and Westernization.Modern Asian Studies 18 (October 1984):.

Albert M. Craig The Central Government.” In Jansen and Rozman , eds. Japan in Transition.

Peter Duus . “Whig History, Japanese Style: The Min'yusha Historians and the Meiji Restoration.” Journal of Asian Studies 33 (May 1974):.

Carol Gluck . “The People in History: Recent Trends in Japanese Historiography.” Journal of Asian Studies 38 (November 1978):.

Yoshio Sakata , and John W. Hall . “The Motivation of Political Leadership in the Meiji Restoration.Journal of Asian Studies 16 (November 1956):.

Yoshio Sugimoto . “Structural Sources of Popular Revolts and the Tōbaku Movement at the Time of the Meiji Restoration.Journal of Asian Studies. 34 (August 1975):.

Conrad Totman . “Fudai Daimyo and the Collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu.” Journal of Asian Studies 34 (May 1975):.

Yasukichi Yasuba . “Anatomy of the Debate on Japanese Capitalism.” Journal of Japanese Studies 2 (Autumn 1975):.

George Akita . Foundations of Constitutional Government in Modern Japan: 1868–1900. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967.

F. G. Notehelfer American Samurai: Captain L. L. Janes and Japan. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1985.

Robert Sakai . “Feudal Society and Modern Leadership in Satsuma han.Journal of Asian Studies 16 (May 1957):.

Marius B. Jansen , ed. Changing Japanese Attitudes Toward Modernization. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1965.

John W. Hall Rule by Status in Tokugawa Japan.” Journal of Japanese Studies 1 (Autumn 1974):.

Thomas C. Smith Farm Family By-Employments in Preindustrial Japan.Journal of Economic History 29 (December 1969):.

Kozo Yamamura . “The Meiji Land Tax Reform and Its Effects.” In Jansen and Rozman , eds. Japan in Transition.

Richard H. Minear Japanese Tradition and Western Law: Emperor, State, and Law in the Thought of Hozumi Yatsuka. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970.

Kozo Yamamura . “Pre-Industrial Landholding Patterns in Japan and England.” In Craig , ed. Japan: A Comparative View.

Roger F. Hackett Yamagata Aritomo in the Rise of Modern Japan: 1838–1922. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971.

John W. Hall A Monarch for Modern Japan.” In Ward , ed. Political Development in Modern Japan.

Helen Hardacre . “Creating State Shintō: The Great Promulgation Campaign and the New Religions.” Journal of Japanese Studies 12 (Winter 1986):.

Marius B. Jansen Modernization and Foreign Policy in Meiji Japan.” In Ward , ed. Political Development in Modern Japan.

John M. Rosenfield Western-Style Painting in the Early Meiji Period and Its Critics.” In Shively , ed. Tradition and Modernization in Japanese Culture.

Benjamin I. Schwartz Notes on Conservatism in General and on China in Particular.” In Charlotte Furth , ed. The Limits of Change: Essays on Conservative Alternatives in Republican China. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1976.

Robert L. Backus The Kansei Prohibition of Heterodoxy and Its Effects on Education.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 39 (June 1979): 55–106.

W. G. Beasley Councillors of Samurai Origin in the Early Meiji Government, 1868–69.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 20 (1957): 89–103.

Carmen Blacker . “The Religious Traveller in the Edo Period.” Modern Asian Studies 18 (October 1984): 593–608.

Albert M. Craig Fukuzawa Yukichi: The Philosophical Foundations of Meiji Nationalism.” In Ward , ed. Political Development in Modern Japan.

Albert M. Craig The Restoration Movement in Chōshū.” In Hall and Jansen , eds. Studies in the Institutional History of Early Modern Japan.

E. S. Crawcour Changes in Japanese Commerce in the Tokugawa Period.” In Hall and Jansen , eds. Studies in the Institutional History of Early Modern Japan.

Ronald P. Dore Land Reform and Japan's Economic Development.” The Developing Economies 3 (December 1965): 487–96.

Ronald P. Dore The Modernizer As a Special Case: Japanese Factory Legislation, 1882–1911.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 11 (1969).

Wilbur M. Fridell Government Ethics Textbooks in Late Meiji Japan.” Journal of Asian Studies 29 (1970): 823–34.

Alan Grappard . “Japan's Neglected Cultural Revolution: The Separation of Shinto and Buddhist Deities in Meiji (Shinbutsu bunri) and a Case Study: Tonomine.” History of Religions 23 (February 1984): 240–65.

Roger F. Hackett Political Modernization and the Meiji Genrō.” In Ward , ed. Political Development in Modern Japan.

Ivan Parker Hall . Mori Arinori. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1973.

John W. Hall Feudalism in Japan – A Reassessment.” In Hall and Jansen , eds. Studies in the Institutional History of Early Modern Japan.

John W. Hall The Castle Town and Japan's Modern Urbanization.” In Hall and Jansen , eds. Studies in the Institutional History of Early Modern Japan.

Akira Iriye , ed. The Chinese and the Japanese: Essays in Political and Cultural Interactions. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1980.

Marius B. Jansen Monarchy and Modernization in Japan.Journal cf Asian Studies 36 (August 1977): 611–22.

Marius B. Jansen Oi Kentarō: Radicalism and Chauvinism.Far Eastern Quarterly 11 (May 1952): 305–16.

Marius B. Jansen Sakamoto Ryōma and the Meiji Restoration. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1961.

William W. Kelly Deference and Defiance in Nineteenth Century Japan. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1985.

Peter F. Kornicki The Publishers Go-Between: Kashihonya in the Meiji Period.Modern Asian Studies 14 (1980): 331–44.

Peter Laslett , ed. Household and Family in Past Time. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1972.

Marlene Mayo . “The Western Education of Kume Kunitake 1871–1876.Monumenta Nipponica 28 (1973): 3–68.

John McMaster . “The Japanese Gold Rush of 1859.” Journal of Asian Studies 19 (May 1960): 273–88.

Shunsaku Nishikawa . “Grain Consumption: The Case of Chōshū.” In Jansen and Rozman , eds. Japan in Transition.

John D. Pierson Tokutomi Sohó 1863–1957: A Journalist for Modern Japan. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1980.

Kenneth B. Pyle Advantages of Followership: German Economics and Japanese Bureaucrats, 1890–1925.Journal of Japanese Studies 1 (1974): 127–64.

Jennifer Robertson . “Sexy Rice: Plant Gender, Farm Manuals, and Grass-Roots Nativism.Monumenta Nipponica 39 (Autumn 1984): 233–60.

Gilbert Rozman . “Edo's Importance in Changing Tokugawa Society.Journal of Japanese Studies 1 (Autumn 1974): 91–112.

Richard Rubinger . “Education: From One Room to One System.” In Jansen and Rozman , eds. Japan in Transition.

Bernard S. Silberman Bureaucratic Development and the Structure of Decision-Making in Japan, 1868–1925.Journal of Asian Studies 29 (1970): 347–62.

Richard J. Smethhurst Agricultural Development and Tenancy Disputes in Japan, 1870–1940. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1986.

Robert J. Smith Small Families, Small Households, and Residential Instability: Town and City in ‘Pre-Modern’ Japan.” In Laslett , ed. Household and Family in Past Time.

Isao Soranaka . “The Kansei Reforms – Success or Failure.Monumenta Nipponica 33 (Summer 1978): 151–64.

Alan Stone . “The Japanese Muckrakers.Journal of Japanese Studies 1 (1975): 385–407.

Barbara Joan Teters . “The Genro-In and the National Essence Movement.” Pacific Historical Review 31 (1962): 359–78.

Michio Umegaki . “From Domain to Prefecture.” In Jansen and Rozman , eds. Japan in Transition.

Herschel Webb . “The Development of an Orthodox Attitude Toward the Imperial Institution in the Nineteenth Century.” In Jansen , ed. Changing Japanese Attitudes Toward Modernization.

Kozo Yamamura . A Study of Samurai Income and Entrepreneurship: Quantitative Analyses of Economic and Social Aspects of the Samurai in Tokugawa and Meiji Japan. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974.


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 5431 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 5466 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.