Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the Tokugawa Era in Japan

How did Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s domestic policies change the basic structures of society at the time?

Toyotomi Hideyoshi is regarded as one of the heroic men in Japan’s history. Despite being born from a peasant family, he rose to the limelight after he destroyed the Asian clan of Omi in 1573 and later became a grand minister in 1586. During his era, he formulated policies that were aimed at unifying the then regime. His policies were also aimed at depriving the common populace of the means to armed resistance and to guarantee that arms bearing became the exclusive preserve and privilege of the samurai class.

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His domestic policies were what he used to establish a central authority. He was able to order the peasants not to leave the land as a way to quell disturbances in the countryside (Turnbull 10). He did this by confiscating all their weapons. As a ruler, he was able to forbid alliances between the Dinamyo rivalry and them without his approval it did not matter whether the relation was marital, military, or political. He was concerned with western Christianity as it posed a major threat to him and demanded all the foreign missionaries to vacate from Japan. He was able to change Japanese society during his era in many ways.

As a ruler, he imposed a rigid class structure upon the people; these class reforms had an impact on both the commoners and the warriors at that time. A commoner could now easily become a warrior while a samurai could take up farming chores all because of the constant uncertainty that was caused by the lack of a proper centralized government. However, there were restrictions in terms of movement.

He further ordered a census to be conducted and every citizen was required to register in their respective ‘fiefs’ and any individual seeking to travel had to obtain a permit from officials; this was to ensure that the country was in order and peaceful.

Describe the nature of Japan’s contact with the outside world during the Tokugawa era?

The Tokugawa era took place from 1600 to 1868. During this period, Japan cut off all contacts they had with the outside world. It was during this period that the Tokugawa family, commonly referred to as Shoguns, took over power in Japan and they did not allow any interaction of their people with the outside world and most especially the Europeans. By the 1500s, Japan had several foreigners from other countries, Spain, Dutch, Portugal and many of these people encouraged the Japanese people to turn to Christianity.

During this time, the ruler did not allow the spread of Christianity to the communities in Japan, and instead, he struck out Christianity and persecuted several believers through crucifixion (Weiming 996). Tokugawa feared that Christianity would spread throughout Japan and also feared that the foreigners were going to greatly influence their political and economic sectors and hence decided to cut off relations with his country to the outside world in 1649.

All kinds of foreign books and literature materials were banned and little or no trade relations between Japan and countries like China, Korea, and the Netherlands. It was during this time, that the now popular Japanese culture begun burgeoning, and new government structures were formed leading to the development of a distinctive Japanese culture.

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Works Cited

Turnbull, Stephen. “Toyotomi Hideyoshi”: The Background, Strategies, Tactics and Battlefield Experiences of the Greatest Commanders of History Command Series. New York, NY: Osprey Publishing, 2010. Print.

Weiming, Tu. “Confucian traditions in east Asian modernity”: moral education and economic culture in Japan and the four mini-dragons. Cambridge. MA: Harvard University Press, 1996.

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StudyCorgi. "Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the Tokugawa Era in Japan." January 26, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the Tokugawa Era in Japan." January 26, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the Tokugawa Era in Japan'. 26 January.

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