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    The Cambridge History of Japan
    • Online ISBN: 9781139055086
    • Book DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521223553
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Book description

This is the fourth of six volumes designed to explore the history of Japan from prehistoric to modern times. Volume 4 covers the years from 1550 to 1800, a short but surprisingly eventful period in Japanese history commonly referred to as Japan's Early Modern Age. At the start, in the sixteenth century, much of the country was being pulled apart by local military lords engaged in a struggle for land and local hegemony. These daimyo succeeded in dividing Japan into nearly autonomous regional domains. This volume attempts to flesh out the historical tale with insights into the way that people lived and worked. It examines the relationship between peasant and local lord, and between the lord, as a unit of local government, and the emerging shogunate. It offers insights into the evolution of indigenous thought and religion and it also deals with Japan's foreign relations, particularly the impact of the Christian missionary movement.

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  • 1 - Introduction
    pp 1-39
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521223553.002
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Japan's sixteenth-century unification, as it was both observed by Europeans and influenced by the introduction of Western arms, has naturally suggested to historians various points of comparison between European and Japanese historical institutions. Japan during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries underwent several similar political and social changes. The country achieved a new degree of political unity. The Tokugawa hegemony gave rise to a highly centralized power structure, capable of exerting nationwide enforcement over military and fiscal institutions. Daimyo were permitted to retain their own armies and also a considerable amount of administrative autonomy. This chapter discusses the Ōnin-Bummei War of 1467 to 1477 that marked the beginning of the final downward slide of the Muromachi shogunate. The victory of Tokugawa Ieyasu's forces against the Toyotomi faction at the battle of Sekigahara in 1600 marked the beginning of the Tokugawa hegemony.
  • 2 - The sixteenth-century unification
    pp 40-95
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521223553.003
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The unification of Japan in the sixteenth century had given risen to kõgi authority. In the ninth month of 1568, Oda Nobunaga entered Kyoto at the head of some fifty thousand troops drawn from Mino, Owari, and neighboring provinces, thus raising the curtain on a new scene in Japan's history. The kind of institutional structure that Nobunaga envisaged as a replacement for the old Muromachi bakufu is lost to historians, as Nobunaga was killed before he could achieve a national military hegemony, a precondition to more sweeping and permanent institutional change. At the time of Nobunaga's death, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the general who was to succeed Nobunaga, was engaged at the front in Bitchū Province. The state created by Oda Nobunaga and Hideyoshi was basically a military hegemony imposed on the heads of all warrior bands of daimyo who had staked out their own local territorial claims.
  • 3 - The social and economic consequences of unification
    pp 96-127
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521223553.004
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Japan underwent a major transformation in its social organization and economic capacity during the latter half of the sixteenth century. The three hegemonic leaders, such as Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, who forged the military unification of Japan during the latter half of the sixteenth century. This chapter focuses on the events of the late sixteenth century, the pivotal transitional years that separated the chūsei from the kinsei epoch. The expansion of the productive capacity of agriculture was the keystone supporting the economic foundations of Japan's early modern society. Commerce and urban centers grew together during the sixteenth century. At this time Kyoto was still Japan's most important political city, as well as a center of a superlative tradition of craft and artisan production. The specific characteristics of the early modern social system were also closely associated with the requirements of the commercial economy.
  • 4 - The bakuhan system
    pp 128-182
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521223553.005
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter traces the formation and the evolution of the bakuhan structure of government from the middle of the sixteenth century to the end of the eighteenth century. The political and social institutions that underlay the bakuhan polity had their origins in the unification movement of the last half of the sixteenth century, especially in the great feats of military consolidation and social engineering achieved by Toyotomi Hideyoshi during the last two decades of the century. The story of the rise of the Tokugawa family to become the foremost military house of Japan follows a pattern common among a whole class of active regional military families who competed for local dominion during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The structure of power over which the Tokugawa shogun ultimately presided was conceived as a balance among several classes of daimyo and the interests of the shogun.
  • 5 - The han
    pp 183-234
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521223553.006
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The han, or daimyo domains, covered some three-quarters of the total area of the Japanese islands. The han have been restored to their rightful place in the history of the Tokugawa period. Many han were already in existence well before the bakufu was established in 1603; for that matter, almost all of them, in one form or another, were to survive its fall, lingering on uneasily into the Meiji world. The role of the han was defined by the bakufu, for it was the Tokugawa government that confirmed their existence and prescribed the extent of their responsibilities and the limits of their jurisdiction. Tokugawa rule had effectively released all han from the need for constant vigilance against each other. Equally, it had done much to enhance their internal stability by making it clear that it would countenance no usurpers from among the han vassals.
  • 6 - The inseparable trinity: Japan's relations with China and Korea
    pp 235-300
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521223553.007
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The international order that ideally spanned East Asia when Japan was in the later Middle Ages of its history may be described as a tributary system, one in which outlying states were bound with real or fictional ties of allegiance to the "Central Country", China. The Japanese were assigned Ningpo in Chekiang Province as their port of entry into China. The Ming government made official purchases from the cargoes of the Japanese ships and also allowed the Japanese envoys and their accompaniment of merchants to carry on private trade with licensed Chinese brokers. From the 1420s, the Koreans began to develop an elaborate system of allotting the number of ships that could be licensed each year for trade by individual Japanese. In diplomatic relations, Tsushima continued to play a highly inventive role unhindered by higher authority for almost three decades.
  • 7 - Christianity and the daimyo
    pp 301-372
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521223553.008
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Japan passed from a state of extreme political dissolution and social upheaval to a new era of unity and peace, it also turned inward and away from the relative cosmopolitanism of the Christian Century's first half. From sengoku, Japan was transformed into sakoku, a closed country. For the daimyo, the establishment of a new order meant a reduction to fealty under the Tokugawa shogunate. For the Christian missionaries and their converts, it meant a bitter persecution and the nearly total eradication of their religion in Japan. For the country at large, it was the beginning of more than two centuries of national seclusion. The daimyo Shimazu Takahisa, Ōuchi Yoshitaka, and Ōtomo Yoshishige, who were the most important political personages of western Japan, were also the Christian missionary Francis Xavier's most important collocutors in the country. Christianity had been the objects of suspicion, denigration, and occasional persecution in various parts of Japan from the day of Xavier's arrival in the country.
  • 8 - Thought and religion: 1550–1700
    pp 373-424
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521223553.009
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, Japanese society underwent fundamental changes that led to the dissolution of the traditional state structure and the appearance of new forms of state and social organization. This chapter focuses on the period from the middle of the sixteenth century to the end of the seventeenth century. The transformation of cultural activities into enterprises engaged in by the individual houses influenced in various ways the thought and religious outlook of this period. The most prominent evidence of the establishment of Buddhism among the populace on a national scale in this period is the fact that a majority of the Buddhist temples surviving into the modern era were founded during this time. The outlook characteristic of Tokugawa Buddhism linked the everyday life and human relations that centered on the house with the sacred. In Chinese Confucianism, the principles of Heaven regulated the entire universe, including the seasonal cycles.
  • 9 - Politics in the eighteenth century
    pp 425-477
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521223553.010
  • View abstract
    Summary
    By the middle of the seventeenth century, the government of Japan in many important respects had assumed the shape it was thereafter to maintain for the next two hundred years. The imposition of the shogun's authority over the other power centers, however, did not bring a halt to political transformations during the Tokugawa period. The politics of the eighteenth century were lively and significant in their own right. Political life in the eighteenth century was also affected by the increases in agricultural productivity. The first great reformer was Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. Politically, Tsunayoshi's attempt to strengthen the shogunal prerogative had a profound impact on the bakufu's faltering administrative machinery. It is claimed that the Kyoho Reforms began only in 1722, the year in which the shogunate set about rearranging its finances, and that the first six years of Tokugawa Yoshimune's regime were merely a time of preparation.
  • 10 - The village and agriculture during the Edo period
    pp 478-518
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521223553.011
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter provides an overview of the evolving agricultural community and to elaborate on the relationship between the transformations in village life and the changes in the mode of agricultural production. During the Edo period, agriculture passed through three technological stages of varying degrees of complexity: the slash and burn technique, the self-contained village economy, and the commercialized cash crop economy and the shift from one stage to another lay at the bottom of three different life styles. The rise of the samurai marked an important stage in the transition from the increasingly ineffectual shoen system to the social institutions of Tokugawa society. The gap between the upper-class farmers and the rest of the farming population was both a product of traditional social custom and a consequence of economic privileges and laws favorable to the elite rural families. Fertilization with night soil has often been viewed as a hallmark of Japanese agriculture.
  • 11 - Commercial change and urban growth in early modern Japan
    pp 519-595
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521223553.012
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The meteoric urban growth that occurred in Japan at the beginning of the early modern period had profound and diverse consequences for Japanese history. Historians have identified seventeen temple towns, all founded in the middle decades of the sixteenth century. In some cases, the daimyo actually converted the temple towns into their own castle headquarters. It has become a historical truism to say that Oda Nobunaga initiated the political and economic programs that resulted in the early modern state; that Toyotomi Hideyoshi amplified them; and that Tokugawa Ieyasu supplied the final institutional refinements. The policies of the shogunate toward currency and the minting of coins also encouraged an expansion in the volume of commercial transactions and contributed to the emergence of castle towns as nodes of economic exchange. The expansion of urban markets was closely linked to the emergence of local towns, such as Johana, where businessmen could produce competitively priced goods.
  • 12 - History and nature in eighteenth-century Tokugawa thought
    pp 596-659
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521223553.013
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Of all the years that spanned the Tokugawa period, the middle years, Tokugawa chūki, called the eighteenth-century, are distinguished by the creative achievements realized along a broad front. Important innovations were introduced in theater, literature, and printmaking in the arts and, more pertinent to this chapter, into reflections on history, nature, and political economy. As a cosmological system authorized by a transcendent moral absolute, the "Great Ultimate" or taikyoku, Neo-Confucianism articulated a sharp division between the Tokugawa era of peace and tranquility and the immediately preceding Sengoku period of constant warfare. The interplay between principle and play provides people with a key perspective into late-eighteenth-century syncretism. From Ogyū Sorai and Dazai Shundai on down through the Nakai brothers, Seiryo, Toshiaki, and Daini, there is a consistent theme of skepticism regarding the validity of the aristocracy that was contained in general discussions about history and nature.
  • 13 - Tokugawa society: material culture, standard of living, and life-styles
    pp 660-705
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521223553.014
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Until the 1970s, few professional Japanese historians regarded material culture and lifestyles as subjects of serious inquiry. The civil wars of the sixteenth century and the concurrent social and economic developments were catalysts in the transformation of the material culture and lifestyles of the common folk. During the Tokugawa period, patterns of income distribution in city and countryside alike changed as a result of economic growth, led by continued growth in the agricultural sector and the accelerated growth of commerce. Premodern Japanese buildings were built of tensile materials such as wood, bamboo, and thatch. The new foods introduced during the late medieval period, rises in agricultural productivity during the Tokugawa period. The Tokugawa period saw a distinct rise in the quality of life, owing to the introduction of a new fiber for cloth. The rising standard of living both brought the Japanese more goods and some luxuries and also improved the quality of their life.
  • 14 - Popular culture
    pp 706-770
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521223553.015
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Major economic and social changes followed political unification and the establishment of a stable political order under the Tokugawa in the years after 1600. The interest in popular entertainment and culture in the major cities developed rapidly, especially in the second half of the seventeenth century, culminating in a brilliant flowering of popular culture known as the golden age of Genroku. This chapter focuses on popular culture, which had wide appeal to urban commoners. The development of popular culture, during its early stages, took place largely within the urban environment of Kyoto. The increase in literacy during the seventeenth century among both samurai and urban commoners was an important factor in the functioning of the administration and the expansion of commerce. During the century of warfare preceding the establishment of the Tokugawa bakufu, there was little time or necessity, even among the daimyo, for extensive formal education.

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.


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