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Medieval and Early Modern Japan: Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu Essay

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Updated: Sep 14th, 2021

Background

Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu are often discussed by historians as a group. Oda Nobunaga was born in 1534.By the time he was growing up; Japan had lost the unity it had enjoyed in previous centuries. Andrew Gordon (2003). This came as a result of civil wars that had occurred between1460-1470, Japan had sixty-six provinces that were constantly at war with each other. Each province was governed by regional lords called daimyos who were at war.

A lot of lives, crops, houses were lost in battles. Nobunaga found it wise to unify Japan. The first leader, Oda Nobunaga, began unifying Japan in the 1560s.at this time; Japan had numerous provinces and different heads of clans. Many people resisted the unification process that Nobunaga was trying to do. He wanted to unify Japan and in the event, about fifty thousand people were killed and he dominated almost half of Japan before he was killed by his commander who turned disloyal. Andrew Gordon (2003).

The second great unifier, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, was a brilliant peasant who the second great unifier of Japan. He used a lot of diplomacies and little force. By the year1590, he had completed Japan’s unification. This could be depicted in his words Marcia Yonemoto (2003), “I mean to do glorious deeds and I am ready for a long siege, with provisions and gold and silver in plenty, to return in triumph and leave a great name behind me.

Marcia Yonemoto (2003), I desire you to understand this and to tell it to everybody.” Hideyoshi imposed a rigid class structure by forcing the samurai to leave the villages and go to live in castles towns. The peasants were forced to farm and he ordered for their disarming so that she could be peaceful. He surveyed the land and some peasants turned into warriors. He also imposed travel restrictions as a way of getting peace because bandits roamed in the countryside. People had to get permission to travel. Marcia Yonemoto (2003). The land surveys eventually led to a system of taxation. By 1558, he had stopped slavery and selling slaves.

This was replaced by hiring laborers and giving contracts. Andrew Gordon (2003), built the Osaka Castle to guard Japan against western approaches. He also introduced material culture like the tea ceremony among the ruling class. This tea ceremony later demanded the need for fine ceramics and therefore he decided to poach Korean artisans who would make fine ceramic wares and relocated them to Japan. Marcia Yonemoto (2003).

Inspired by the dazzling Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, he constructed a portable tea room, which resembled it. He could carry out his tea ceremonies wherever he went displaying an unrivaled power. In political unification, Hideyoshi set out a very powerful central government. He later created a council that included powerful and influential lords from each clan to aid him in decision-making. Through this, he had managed to set up a system that his son could inherit in case he died. Nishiyama Matsunosuke (1998).

However, his son was too young when he died and therefore five elders from the most powerful daimyos chose Tokugawa Ieyasu. He secured several alliances and carried on with most of Hideyoshi’s works. Marcia Yonemoto (2003). However, he was involved in political marriages which were forbidden by Hideyoshi. pro-Hideyoshi supporters went into war with Tokugawa where the latter won and established a shogunate upon them. He still followed Hideyoshi’s major decrees. This was to ensure that the culture and systems set up by Hideyoshi remained. Tokugawa was an exception in that he became a shogun in the year 1603 and his descendants ruled Japan for almost there centuries until 1868. Nishiyama Matsunosuke (1998).

Ensuring of Peace

After centuries of squabbles, Japan had as a final point disembarked at a time of tranquility. Japan had finally arrived at a time of peace. This peace was a bit more than coincidental, however. The Tokugawa Bakufu and Shogun went to great lengths to ensure public order and more importantly obedience from daimyo. They decreed that for a man to be called a daimyo he must have an annual income of at least 10,000 kokus, this was the amount of rice harvested to feed one man for a year.

Nishiyama Matsunosuke (1998). The daimyo was divided into three classes. The first class, the shin pain, was associated with daimyo; this stratum consisted of members of the Tokugawa clan. Second, they were the fudai or hereditary daimyo, who had been loyal to Ieyasu before the Sekigahara war of 1600. Finally, there were the tozama (outer) daimyo, who had joined Ieyasu during the war, and even some who had been enemies during the war. Nishiyama Matsunosuke (1998).

The Bakufu restructured the terra firma in Japan based on a stability frame of reference. They claimed about a quarter of the farmable land; calculated in koku, to be the shogun territory, since they could be entrusted with the interests of the Tokugawa administration. The fudai, which were also perceived trustworthy, were approved lands in the innermost part of Japan. Marcia Yonemoto (2003).

The tozama were sent to the outer reaches of Japan, from whence they would facilitate vicious revolts against the government. This did not, however, stop them from getting pleasure from their sphere of influence, like the Kumamoto castle, Saga castle, Fukuoka castle, Kokura castle, Matuyama castle, Imabari castle, Mtue castle, Tuyama castle, and many others. Last but not least, the ultimate measure used to deteriorate the daimyo was a law that required every daimyo to spend several months every year at Edo. The enormous sums of money involved in these trips deteriorated their financial prowess, and their nonappearance from home hampered their political endeavors. Marcia Yonemoto (2003).

Lawson Castle Construction

The 1615 cordon on Osaka Castle made it more obvious to be more intricate for Tokugawa Ieyasu’s forces than it was expected, and as a result, the Bakufu issued a new set of laws with the instantaneous effect. Donald Keene, trans. Chushingura (2002). These laws were christened as the Ikkoku Ichijoo and the Buke Sho Hatto; they were time-honored to control the castle-building of the daimyo. Ikkiku Ichijoo entailed that exactly one castle is in each province for each ruler that ruled in that province.

The entire superfluous castles were obliged to be abolished, and as a result of this law more contemporary castles vanished, and the majority of the older castles were knocked down. Those smaller, older castles had been given to vassal living in a daimyo’s domain, but now owning a castle became a privilege reserved only for the daimo himself. Donald Keene, trans. Chushingura (2002).

Buke Sho Hatto or ‘Set of laws for belligerent Families’ dealt frequently with the day after day living, but there is one article affecting strongholds. It states that any daimyo wishing to build or repair a castle must first be granted authority from the Bakufu. Conrad Totman (1980).

For the reason of these authoritarian measures, some of the tozama (‘outer’) daimyo did not repair their castles even if they were broken down. ‘Buke Sho Hatto’ was revised by Tokugawa Iemitu in 1635, and the daimyo were now permitted to repair yagura, gates, and walls without requesting permission. Nevertheless, at a standstill, they couldn’t renovate other structures or raise new castles. As a consequence, many castles stayed only moderately accomplished. Conrad Totman (1980).

References

Andrew Gordon (2003). A modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present; Oxford University Press, 283-287.

Conrad Totman (1980). The Collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu, 1862-1868; University of Hawaii Press. Pg 355-360.

Donald Keene, trans. Chushingura (2002). The Treasury Loyal Retainers Hall, Japan from Prehistory to Modern Times; Honolulu Press. pg 22-28.

Marcia Yonemoto (2003). Mapping Early Modern Japan; Place culture in the Tokugawa Period, 1603-1868, Berkeley, C.A pg 346-350.

Nishiyama Matsunosuke (1998). Edo Culture; Daily life and Diversion of urban Japan, 1600-1868; Honolulu Publication pg 382-387.

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IvyPanda. "Medieval and Early Modern Japan: Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu." September 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/medieval-and-early-modern-japan-oda-nobunaga-toyotomi-hideyoshi-and-tokugawa-ieyasu/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Medieval and Early Modern Japan: Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu." September 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/medieval-and-early-modern-japan-oda-nobunaga-toyotomi-hideyoshi-and-tokugawa-ieyasu/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Medieval and Early Modern Japan: Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu'. 14 September.

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