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BASHÔ (1644-1694)

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BASHÔ'S NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH

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CHIKAMATSU MONZAEMON (1653-1725)

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SAIKAKU (1642-1693)

 
TOKUGAWA JAPAN
Path to Modernization: Economy, Education, Urbanization
Tokugawa Japan Video Clip

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 century.

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 [1868], 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.