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lordameth
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PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2009 4:16 am    Post subject: The Edo Inheritance Reply with quote
Has anyone heard of, or read, "The Edo Inheritance" by Tokugawa Tsunenari (current head of the Tokugawa family)?

It was originally published in Japanese in 2007 as Edo no idenshi, and has now been published in English in 2009.

I was just told about it, and thought I would therefore share it with all of you.

From the description on the publisher's page:

"The Japanese have often thought of the Edo period as Japan’s dark ages, when the nation, isolated under the Tokugawa shogunate’s national seclusion policy, fell hopelessly behind the rest of the world. In this book Tokugawa Tsunenari argues that, on the contrary, Tokugawa Japan was in many ways ahead of the West in its long peace and widespread prosperity."

Read more here.

2500 yen seems a not unreasonable price for a 212 page hardcover book on such a fascinating (and important) subject. I'm considering special ordering it through the Kiinokuniya here in NY, but I know that with the yen being so strong right now, and the exorbitant import fees and such, it could end up being as much as $40.
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PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2009 4:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I bought the book at the beginning of the month when I saw it at Kinokuniya in Osaka Station. It's been added to my never-ending must read collection of still not read books. Laughing

It does look fascinating, although I am less than impressed with some of the stuff Iehiro has written in his own books or said in interviews. Thank heavens he only translates this and let's his father do the talking.

I think I'll start reading it tonight, bypassing another one that was at the front of the queue.
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PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2009 7:34 am    Post subject: Re: The Edo Inheritance Reply with quote
lordameth wrote:
In this book Tokugawa Tsunenari argues that, on the contrary, Tokugawa Japan was in many ways ahead of the West in its long peace and widespread prosperity."


And I'm sure he's not biased in any way. Rolling Eyes
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Hiro Katsumoto
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Well this might be a book I'll treat myself on. Sounds good.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 12:53 am    Post subject: Re: The Edo Inheritance Reply with quote
lordameth wrote:

From the description on the publisher's page:

"The Japanese have often thought of the Edo period as Japan’s dark ages, when the nation, isolated under the Tokugawa shogunate’s national seclusion policy, fell hopelessly behind the rest of the world. In this book Tokugawa Tsunenari argues that, on the contrary, Tokugawa Japan was in many ways ahead of the West in its long peace and widespread prosperity."


This statement seems to echo those made by Susan B. Hanley's book Everyday Things in Premodern Japan. Although I haven't read Tokugawa's work, Hanley's does make a good a good argument.
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Shisendo
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 2:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Here's a review of The Edo Inheritance that was just published today.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
That review is pretty spot on, but fairly ho-hum.

I really ought to re-read this book and get on with my long-planned review of it for the Shogun-ki blog as well as here.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I loaned out a copy of the book from the nearby Japan Foundation library, and just recently finished it.

One interesting part is the collection of images in the second appendix; a selection of illustrations from the Edo Meisho Zue (Album of the Famous Places of Edo).

Another was how some of it read in light of Visions of Ryukyu (which I loaned out at the same time, and finished up before switching to this book); some of the talk about trying to re-direct the samurai towards Neo-Confucian scholar-officialdom made me think of the Ryukyan Kingdom's Pechin class, for example. (Though I suspect the samurai at the time would not have found the comparison to have been a wlcome one...)

Although, there was no mention (in the main body of work, or in the chronology in the first appendix) of the Satsuma invasion of the Ryukyus, or of the bakufu's role in directing the effort; there's a short reference to "the occasional visit" by Ryukyu royalty to Japan, but no explanation as to why these trips were taking place. (In contrast, there is an explanation as to how relations were normalized with the Korean court, and how Ieyasu's not having been involved in the Imjin War kind of helped in that regard.)

On the other hand, there was another piece of info that I found somewhat surprising; not only are many of the Edo-period daimyo families still alive, they've met each other! (There's an anecdote about "Mr. Shimazu" complaining about how the costs incurred on his clan by the bakufu's civil engineering projects almosted bankrupted the Satsuma domain. And no, I really am not trying to bring up the Shimazu all the time; for some reason, it keeps turning out that way! Sigh.)


But though I do feel that it paints a little too flattering an image of the era (which, given its provenance, is probably to be expected; though, in fairness, there is much in there to be justly proud of for any modern-day Tokugawa) it is still a good book to take a look at.
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