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Edo Period（1603 – 1868）
Edo Period（1603 – 1868）
The Edo, or Tokugawa Period is recognised as the final traditional period of Japan,
and one of political stability, economic growth, and particularly as one of national peace
under the strict control of the hereditary Shogunate of the Tokugawa family.
Named for the city of Edo, now Tokyo, that was the Tokugawa Headquarters, the period began
just 3 years after the decisive Battle of Sekigahara in which the Tokugawa claimed ultimate victory.
Social order was enforced and mobility between the four classes of Warrior, Farmer, Artisans and
Merchants was banned, with the peasantry confined to the land providing continual income for the daimyo
and a strong economy. The nation went into a self imposed exile that lasted almost 250 years.
During this period of national seclusion, Japanese were forbidden to leave or re-enter the country,
and foreign contact and trade was restricted to a few Chinese and Dutch traders, and limited to the small
island of Deshima in Nagasaki. Japan experienced a dynamic advance in urban culture, the arts, crafts,
textiles such as fine silk and cotton, the manufacturing of ceramics and commodities flourished
and the economy expanded. Towards the end of the Edo period, the fixed income bound by limited
rice production against natural inflation caused financial distress for the ruling samurai class and shogunate.
Samurai unrest, peasant uprisings, economic difficulties and Western encroachment in the 1850’s
brought the Tokugwa family down, and Imperial rule was once again restored.
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