PIECES OF EDO HISTORY

RELIGIONFrom 1600 to 1868, known as the Edo Period, there was a revival of nationalistic sentiments. One result was a resurgent interest in the ancient Shinto beliefs, and the discarding of foreign influences. In 1868, the emperor was restored to the head of the government and Shinto was established as the state religion. Buddhism was outlawed, in an attempt to purify Shinto by abolishing many Buddhist and Confucian ideals. The emperor was considered the divine descendant of the sun goddess. This direct lineage from the gods was reflected in a feeling of Japanese superiority, which in turn fed the military expansion of the Japanese Empire. State Shinto was considered the official belief of the entire Japanese race.

RONINSixty-one daimyô lost their domains during the first fifty years of Tokugawa rule, most of them as the result of failing to properly name an heir in accordance with the stipulations and regulations set down by the shogunate. These attainders made roughly 150,000 samurai, as much as one-fifth of all the samurai in Japan, into ronin. Many of these newly lordless bushi traveled to Edo to seek new work; many failed to find work, and many turned to crime or other violent lifestyles. Many of these men joined forces opposing the shogunate in battles such as the Osaka Campaigns of 16141615 and the Shimabara Rebellion of 16371638.

The options open to a ronin during the Tokugawa era (1603-1868) were few. One option would have been engaging in criminal activities, becoming a highwayman or being hired by a yakuza gang as a bodyguard. A ronin, strong in martial arts, could engage in a musha shugyô (“warrior’s journeys”), traveling the width and breadth of Japan, engaged in learning and teaching martial arts. Traditionally, such a ronin would be homeless, sleeping under the skies or in temples; he would earn his rice by such chores as chopping wood or working as a common laborer. He could offer martial arts lessons to commoners; it is strongly speculated that the 17th century swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, who spent most of his life as a ronin, earned some of his keep that way. There were also a number of cases of ronin traveling overseas as mercenaries in foreign countries or as pirates and raiders (wakô).   –  Edo Ronin

OKI ISLANDS- Clean air, crystal clear azure waters, wonderful sunsets, steep mountains NOT covered in tree farms, great food, and friendly locals.  The Okis are famous as a place of exile, the most notable being Emperor Gotoba and Emperor Godaigo. The presence of the emperors and their considerable entourages meant that until recently the locals spoke Kyoto dialect, in spite of the islands being about 260km from the old capital as the crow flies.

Under the Edo period the Tokugawa family took control over the islands and they were put under the direct control of the Shogun through a governor. Later they became part of the Matsue Domain. During that time the islands were a stopover point for trading boats traveling to and from Asia

SECLUSION

The “Christian problem” was, in effect, a problem of controlling both the Christian daimyo in Kyūshū and their trade with the Europeans. By 1612, the shogun’s retainers and residents of Tokugawa lands had been ordered to forswear Christianity. More restrictions came in 1616 (the restriction of foreign trade to Nagasaki and Hirado, an island northwest of Kyūshū), 1622 (the execution of 120 missionaries and converts), 1624 (the expulsion of the Spanish), and 1629 (the execution of thousands of Christians). Finally, the Closed Country Edict of 1635 prohibited any Japanese from traveling outside Japan or, if someone left, from ever returning. In 1636 the Dutch were restricted to Dejima, a small artificial island—and thus, not true Japanese soil—in Nagasaki’s harbor.

The shogunate perceived Catholic Christianity to be an extremely destabilizing factor, leading to the persecution of Catholicism. The Shimabara Rebellion of 1637–38, in which discontented Catholic Christian samurai and peasants rebelled against the bakufu—and Edo called in Dutch ships to bombard the rebel stronghold—marked the end of the Christian movement, although some Catholic Christians survived by going underground, the so-called Kakure Kirishitan. Soon thereafter, the Portuguese were permanently expelled, members of the Portuguese diplomatic mission were executed, all subjects were ordered to register at a Buddhist or Shinto temple, and the Dutch and Chinese were restricted, respectively, to Dejima and to a special quarter in Nagasaki. Besides small trade of some outer daimyo with Korea and the Ryukyu Islands, to the southwest of Japan’s main islands, by 1641, foreign contacts were limited by the policy of sakoku to Nagasaki.

By 1650, Christianity was almost completely eradicated, and external political, economic and religious influence on Japan became quite limited. Only China, the Dutch East India Company, and for a short period, the English, enjoyed the right to visit Japan during this period, for commercial purposes only, and they were restricted to the Dejima port in Nagasaki. Other Europeans who landed on Japanese shores were put to death without trial.The Christian Problem

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