Robert Oxnam :: Tokugawa
Japan spanned the years 1600 to 1868. Thus the Tokugawa era began at the
same time European colonists came to what would later be the United States,
and ended just after the American Civil War.
For Japan, the Tokugawa era
brought 250 years of peace and order, a long-term stability that fostered
great changes in Japanese society, readying it for entering the modern era.
Japan's rapid modernization in the late nineteenth century — the so-called
Meiji era — is well known. Less well known are the crucial preparatory
steps that were taken in the Tokugawa period.
Carol Gluck :: The Tokugawa period, which
in Japan begins in 1600 and ends in 1868, is important for what happens before
it and what happens after it. Before the Tokugawa period, Japan was a country
of warring states, it was not unified, it was medieval, as we call it, medieval
So that the first importance of Tokugawa has to do with the creation of
a centralized state, a national system.
And the second importance of it has to do with what followed the Tokugawa,
and that is the modern period, which began in 1868, and so we need to think
about what happened during the Tokugawa period that relates to modern Japan.
So, it is between the medieval and the modern, it is early modern Japan.
And we think of it in the same terms as we do early modern Europe. Which
is to say we think of it from the point of view of the modern.