The History of Japan

Early Modern Japan

Early Modern Japan (1603~1868) marks an age of peace and prosperity for Japan, controlled by the Tokugawa Shogunate. The Tokugawa Shogunate helped growing the population to Japan by expanding the agriculture, reaching thirty million during its first century of rule. A standardized currency was created, as well as new roads, which benefited merchants and artisans, making the economy flourish. Private schools were also built, increasing the literacy and numeracy of its inhabitants.

Many new arts emerged from this period. Woodblock prints like Nishiki-e and Ukiyo-e, theatrical art such as Kabuki and Bunraku were at their peak. Older art such as Haiku poetry bloomed as well during that time.

However, around the end the Shogunate started to weakened due to insufficient revenue. The additional raise of taxes caused peasant unrest and revolts. One of events that lead to the end of the period is the coming of the Black Ships in 1853, firing weapons from the Edo Bay. Afraid that Edo, or modern-day Tokyo, would burn to the ground, Japan was forced by the USA forces to sign the Treaty of Kanagawa, which was the trade agreement that ended Japan’s isolation from the world.

The Edo Period ultimately came to an end with the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate in favor of Emperor Meiji and the abolition of the bakufu in 1868. The capital was relocated from Kyoto to Tokyo, marking the start of Modern Japan with the Meiji Era.