Pictures from Japan’s Tokugawa Shogunate
The Tokugawa Shogunate, also known as the Tokugawa Bakufu and the Edo Bakufu, was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa clan. This period is known as the Edo Period and derives its name from the capital city, Edo, which is now called Tokyo, after the name was changed in 1868. The Tokugawa shogunate ruled from Edo Castle from 1603 until 1868, when it was abolished during the Meiji Restoration.
Following the Sengoku Period of “warring states”, central government had been largely reestablished by Oda Nobunaga during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. After the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, central authority fell to Tokugawa Ieyasu who completed this process and received the title of shogun in 1603. In order to become shogun, one traditionally was a descendant of the ancient Minamoto clan.
Society in the Tokugawa period, unlike the shogunates before it, was supposedly based on the strict class hierarchy originally established by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The daimyo, or lords, were at the top, followed by the warrior-caste of samurai, with the farmers, artisans, and traders ranking below. In some parts of the country, particularly smaller regions, daimyo and samurai were more or less identical, since daimyo might be trained as samurai, and samurai might act as local lords. Otherwise, the largely inflexible nature of this social stratification system unleashed disruptive forces over time. Taxes on the peasantry were set at fixed amounts which did not account for inflation or other changes in monetary value. As a result, the tax revenues collected by the samurai landowners were worth less and less over time. This often led to numerous confrontations between noble but impoverished samurai and well-to-do peasants, ranging from simple local disturbances to much bigger rebellions. None, however, proved compelling enough to seriously challenge the established order until the arrival of foreign powers.
Toward the end of the 19th century, an alliance of several of the more powerful daimyo, along with the titular Emperor, finally succeeded in the overthrow of the shogunate after the Boshin War, culminating in the Meiji Restoration. The Tokugawa Shogunate came to an official end in 1868, with the resignation of the 15th Tokugawa Shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu and the “restoration” of imperial rule.