Robert Oxnam :: Tokugawa
Japan brought a huge expansion of economic activity, not unlike the rapid
developments in China during the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. Of
special note in Tokugawa Japan were the spread of a money economy, tremendous
growth of cities like Osaka and Edo (later Tokyo), an upsurge in a merchant
class, and increased productivity and commercialization of the agrarian economy.
Just as important, Japanese education accelerated dramatically in the Tokugawa
years, bringing the literacy rate close to fifty percent by the mid-nineteenth
H. Paul Varley :: In a whole variety of ways
the Japanese developed as an early modern state. So that when they entered
the modern period with the Meiji Restoration , there was no miracle
of Japanese modernization as was thought years ago. But in fact, the Japanese
had all sorts of things going for them that made modernization within a Western-dominated
world something that was undertaken with great rapidity.
Carol Gluck :: The second importance of the Tokugawa
period in Japanese and world history has to do with the nature of modernity and
modernization around the world. The Tokugawa period is before, as they say, the
advent of the West. That is to say, most of the Tokugawa period occurs in the two-and-a-half
centuries before Commodore Perry arrived in 1853.
And since we, all around the world, are looking to find what the basic commonalities
and differences are in different countries' paths toward modernization, it becomes
very important for us to look at developments in Tokugawa Japan before the Western
model appeared in the threatening form of gunboats. And that will help us think
not only about what is modern Japan, but it will also help us think about what
is modernity, what is modernity in the countries of Africa, what is modernity in
the countries of Europe, what is modernity in the countries of Asia.