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Most interesting period in early Tokugawa rule?

 
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HarryJJ
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:09 am    Post subject: Most interesting period in early Tokugawa rule? Reply with quote
Hello there I was wondering if the community could lend there voice to what they think is the most interesting but also darkest period under the Tokugawa lines rule in the 17th century? It doesn't have to be a specific year but something hankering towards a more general timeline say a decade.

So anything from shady politics, failed coups, suppression of uprisings in surrounding Hans, scandals and violent events but also innovations or lack of in society, philosophical outlooks and just sociology in general.

As I don't know a great deal about the Edo period but want to learn as much as I can would you be able to suggest the best titles I should be getting started on? Books that are unbiased, have solid accurate research and don't fall into the stereotypes and fantasy of 'samurai' culture.

For starters other than a introductory outlook on the period I'm really interested in all things regarding to society and if there anything that details a comprehensive guide on clothing that be really great!

O one last thing I remember seeing a book about a system that kept the neighbouring daimyos in check by having them or their families spend a certain amount of time in the capital each year. Could anyone help me locate this book?

Look forward to your replies.

Kind regards,

Harry
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Hi Harry. The Edo period is a wonderful, colorful, exciting time in Japanese history.

The book you're looking for about the system for keeping daimyo in check is called "Tour of Duty" by Constantine Vaporis. Easily one of my favorite history books.

As for clothing, there may well be some excellent books out there on the subject, but if there are, I have not yet come across them. If you have access to a university library or the like, you might find the Japan sections in something like the "Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion" to be good. Also, William Deal's "Handbook to Life in Medieval and Early Modern Japan." For other material culture sort of stuff, Susan Hanley's "Everyday Things in Premodern Japan" might be good (I have it, but haven't read it, so, no promises).

Strangely enough, nothing in particular comes to mind for a good overall Edo period book. I'm just blanking at the moment, I guess.

There certainly were coups, political machinations, scandals, and other such exciting things going on on-and-off throughout the Edo period, but I'm not sure if any particular span of years really pops out for me. I've yet to really get a good grasp on what happens in particular years. Though, Genroku (1688-1704) marks the early beginnings of a lot of major Edo cultural developments, including kabuki, ukiyo-e, bunraku, and the geisha. None of these would hit their proper high point until somewhere around the 1750s-1800s, but some of the most famous early figures were active in Genroku, including Chikamatsu.

If you're interested in periods when the shogunate cracked down on the populace - e.g. censorship, sumptuary laws, etc. - and particularly strict shogunal advisors, then the strict policies of Matsudaira Sadanobu (shogunal advisor 1787-1793) and the corruption of the shogunate under Tanuma Okitsugu, who succeeded Sadanobu, might be of interest. Timon Screech's book "The Shogun's Painted Culture" focuses on Sadanobu.

Good luck!
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
thank you for that very helpful and informative reply lordameth! I have noted those titles for near future reads.

Ahh Tour of Duty that's the one! Yeah really want to get hold of that book does sound like a very interesting topic to read about.

Reason why I ask about the clothing aspect is because when I see films such as 13 assassins or even the dreaded Last Samurai I wonder how much the Costume Designers work is down to Historical research and creative licence. Was just wondering if there was a Japanese version of say Janet Arnold's Pattens of Fashion, which are detailed studies of surviving specimens of 16th century clothing.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Since you asked about the 17th century, I’d suggest:

1) The 1630’s-the Shimabara rebellion, the crackdown on Christianity and foreigners, the confiscation of fiefs and disbanding of clans by the Shogunate, and the increasing restrictions on contact with the outside world make for a pretty dark decade

2) The 1610’s-the impending final conflict between the Toyotomi and Tokugawa in 1615 made for a lot of drama (as indicated by all the dramas made about it!).
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
On the clothing thing... Again, unfortunately, nothing in particular comes to mind (doesn't mean it's not out there!) in terms of modern scholarship providing detailed studies, but, we are fortunate to have a multitude of surviving ukiyo-e prints and illustrated books, which I think can be taken to be relatively accurate representations of the kinds of things people would have been wearing at the time. A given pattern or design on a kimono might be purely the creation of the artist, and might never have existed as a genuine kimono, but the representation of which types of people would have worn what types of clothing, the shape of the kimono, things like this can surely be taken as relatively accurate.

If there is no in-depth study of this, I'd be surprised... what with there being so much primary source material out there.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Kyoto National Costume Museum? Buehler?
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:
Kyoto National Costume Museum?


Tale Of Genji the past...forever years.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
ltdomer98 wrote:
Kyoto National Costume Museum?


Tale Of Genji the past...forever years.


http://www.iz2.or.jp/english/fukusyoku/kosode/index.htm

While they do focus on Genji in their exhibitions, they do have archives for every era.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yeah, they still have an impressive selection of books and such related to costuming.

Just remembered Mitsuo Kure's book "Samurai: Arms Armor And Costume". The book has a great selection of photos of clothing from all walks of life.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Nice. Hadn't come across that before. Thanks for sharing that link. Of course, now that you mention it, it reminds me that Mr. Tony Bryant has a pretty extensive treatment of traditional garb on his website. Not officially a citeable scholarly source, I'd argue (sorry, Tony), but definitely a useful site with tons of content.

http://www.sengokudaimyo.com/garb/garb.html
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ah great thanks guys for your suggestions, keep them coming if you have more to share!

No surprise in my case but I had never heard of the KCI until you mentioned it tdomer98 so thank you for that. A place I must definitely visit when ever I get the chance to go to Japan.
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PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2012 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The rule of Tokugawa Tsunayoshi (1680-1709). He is a widely misunderstood Shogun and is derisively called the Dog Shogun. Although not necessarily a dark period, his rule is often ridiculed and Japan endured many terrible natural disasters during this time, as well as the Ako Vendetta or 47 Ronin.

I recommend reading the book called "The Dog Shogun" by Beatrice M. Bodart-Bailey

Bailey describes Tsunayoshi as being a much stronger and effective Shogun than is often believed. He has long been ridiculed by historians for being a tyrant and eccentric. Extreme, unorthodox. Tsunayoshi was the fourth son of Tokugawa Iemitsu (1604-1651), the 3rd Tokugawa Shogun. Iemitsu was the son of Shogun Tokugawa Hidetada and the grandson of the first Tokugawa Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Tsunayoshi's Laws of Compassion, which made maltreatment of dogs an offense punishable by death, earned him the nickname Dog Shogun. However, his rule coincided with with the great Genroku era, a period of incredible cultural growth and prosperity that Japan would not experience again until the mid 20th century.

It was the first time in Japanese history that vast numbers of ordinary townspeople were in a financial position to acquire an education and enjoy many of the amusements previously reserved for the ruling samurai elite.

The book explains how Tsunayoshi's negative image was actually the work of samurai historians who saw their privilages challenged by a ruler sympathetic to commoners. A shogun who was for the first time raised by his birth mother, a daughter of a commoner. A shogun who deeply followed the confucian philosophy of a benevolent ruler. As well as the Buddhist precepts of compassion for all living beings.

Tsunayoshi was not only the first ruler to decree the registration of dogs, which were kept in large numbers by the samurai, but also the registration of pregnant women and young children to prevent infanticide. He decreed that officials take on the onerous task of finding homes for abandoned children and caring for sick travelers.

Bailey did an effective job of countering the widely held negative views of Tsunayoshi. I highly recommend this book. It can get a bit tedious at times with a lot of names of officials and extensive descriptions of Tsunayoshi's confucian beliefs and origins. But overall, it was a good book.

Also Bailey devotes an entire chapter on the 47 Ronin incident. I feel this is the best chapter in the book and she clearly outlines the facts of the incident refuting many of the long held positive beliefs of the ronin. Basically Bailey clearly points out how the 47 Ronin are not what many people believe.
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tornadoes28 wrote:
The rule of Tokugawa Tsunayoshi (1680-1709). He is a widely misunderstood Shogun and is derisively called the Dog Shogun. Although not necessarily a dark period, his rule is often ridiculed and Japan endured many terrible natural disasters during this time, as well as the Ako Vendetta or 47 Ronin.

I recommend reading the book called "The Dog Shogun" by Beatrice M. Bodart-Bailey

Bailey describes Tsunayoshi as being a much stronger and effective Shogun than is often believed. He has long been ridiculed by historians for being a tyrant and eccentric. Extreme, unorthodox. Tsunayoshi was the fourth son of Tokugawa Iemitsu (1604-1651), the 3rd Tokugawa Shogun. Iemitsu was the son of Shogun Tokugawa Hidetada and the grandson of the first Tokugawa Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Tsunayoshi's Laws of Compassion, which made maltreatment of dogs an offense punishable by death, earned him the nickname Dog Shogun. However, his rule coincided with with the great Genroku era, a period of incredible cultural growth and prosperity that Japan would not experience again until the mid 20th century.

It was the first time in Japanese history that vast numbers of ordinary townspeople were in a financial position to acquire an education and enjoy many of the amusements previously reserved for the ruling samurai elite.

The book explains how Tsunayoshi's negative image was actually the work of samurai historians who saw their privilages challenged by a ruler sympathetic to commoners. A shogun who was for the first time raised by his birth mother, a daughter of a commoner. A shogun who deeply followed the confucian philosophy of a benevolent ruler. As well as the Buddhist precepts of compassion for all living beings.

Tsunayoshi was not only the first ruler to decree the registration of dogs, which were kept in large numbers by the samurai, but also the registration of pregnant women and young children to prevent infanticide. He decreed that officials take on the onerous task of finding homes for abandoned children and caring for sick travelers.

Bailey did an effective job of countering the widely held negative views of Tsunayoshi. I highly recommend this book. It can get a bit tedious at times with a lot of names of officials and extensive descriptions of Tsunayoshi's confucian beliefs and origins. But overall, it was a good book.

Also Bailey devotes an entire chapter on the 47 Ronin incident. I feel this is the best chapter in the book and she clearly outlines the facts of the incident refuting many of the long held positive beliefs of the ronin. Basically Bailey clearly points out how the 47 Ronin are not what many people believe.



Good timing on the post Tornadoes28 as I was actually looking at this book on amazon the other day. You have convinced me to pick it up at some point and add it to my growing list of must reads, thanks!
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