Edo Period


Datos principales

17th to 19th century


In 1603, Tokygawa Ieyasu, a daimyo (Japanese hereditary prince), asserted his authority over his political rivals and settled in Edo as hereditary Shogun (military chief who governed parallel to the Imperial dynasty), making this city, present day Tokyo, the seat of his government. This period of Japanese history is also referred to as the Tokugawa period after the ruling dynasty's name. Tokygawa's dictatorship, followed by those of successors, considerably reduced the daimyos' power, even in the imperial court. Ieyasu isolated Japan internationally, closing the country to foreigners and forbidding the Japanese to travel abroad. Internal economic development allowed the urban merchant class to climb the social ladder, but to the detriment of the rural classes which resulted in social unease. This social transformation also affected artistic tastes, which went from the earlier period's predilection for elegant, aristocratic art to the more plebeian and worldly tastes of the new dominant class made up of the bourgeoisie merchants. This is exemplified by the subject matter of paintings from the period and in the famous Ukiyo-e prints, which show scenes from everyday life. Halfway through the 19th century Japan suffered both internal pressures as a result of social dissent and external pressures resulting from the economic and commercial opening up of the country to the rest of the world. Consequently from 1853 the USA managed to reduce the Shogunate's authority and opened Japanese ports to international commerce. These measures culminated in the last Tokygawa Shogun, Yoshinobto, handing power over to the Emperor Mutsuhito from the Meiji dynasty. Japan became a modern nation, both economically and socially.

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