17th Century Japan

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17th Century Japan The Tokugawa shogun ruled from AD 1603 to 1868. In the 17th century, they introduced a fixed order of social control that is brutally effective and yet was not built upon terror. It is a form of legal and military customs among the warrior nobility known as feudalism, in that the nobles or daimyo hold territories held in fee from the shogun, and portions it out to their own vassals – with the vassals accepting similar obligations to the daimyo as the daimyo owe to the shogun. The Japanese used a centralized feudalism which suited them quite well. How this differed from Europe was the fact that nobles were required to spend every other year in Edo; now known as Tokyo. When they returned to their estates, their families and heirs had to remain at Edo in the alternate years. When you think about it, they were hostages of the shogun. It was worth being held hostage there because they lived much pampered lives surrounded by luxury. The downside was this lifestyle of maintaining two full time residences in the city and country with full staff and travelling back and forth in style cost a fortune. Thus, the nobles were quite often in serious debt to the money lenders and the merchants. The price of appearing wealthy and powerful was extremely important to them – no matter the cost. The Togukawa shoguns loved having absolute power over their people. For this reason, they had an absolute distrust of foreigners and considered their influence an imminent danger to their society. To further avoid foreign contamination, in 1624 the law stated it was a capital offense for a Japanese to leave Japan. For those who had already left the country, they were forbidden to return. They further halted the construction of ocean going vessels. The only foreigners allowed to have contact with the Japanese were the Dutch for trading purposes were allowed to
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