21.10.

1600: The Tokugawa Shoguns – Builders of the Largest Castle in Japan

1600: The Tokugawa Shoguns – Builders of the Largest Castle in Japan
Photo Credit To http://images4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100427160159/sengoku-period/images/8/86/Edo_Castle.jpg

Story Highlights

  • historical event:
  • The first Shogun from the Tokugawa dynasty, who on this day de facto took control of Japan, was called Tokugawa Ieyasu. He built the largest castle in Japan in the town of Edo. That castle became the center from which the Tokugawa clan ruled Japan for over two-and-a-half centuries.

This day is often considered the beginning of the Tokugawa family’s reign over Japan. Thus began the so-called Tokugawa shogunate, a period that lasted a full 268 years, i.e. from 1600 to 1868, and one of the key periods in Japanese history in general. During this period, the title of Shogun – a de facto military dictator who ruled over the whole Japan – was always held by members of the Tokugawa clan. The Japanese emperors remained in power during this period, but were mere figureheads, and the real power was held by the shoguns.

It is important to note that Japan had been ruled by shoguns (from other clans) from as early as 1192. The Tokugawa clan was thus only the last in a whole series of shogun dynasties, but is today the most famous (other ruling clans included the Minamoto, Ashikaga, etc.). The word “shogun” itself denotes a very high-ranking military officer, roughly equivalent to a four-star general.

The first Shogun from the Tokugawa dynasty, who on this day de facto took control of Japan, was called Tokugawa Ieyasu. He built the largest castle in Japan in the town of Edo. That castle became the center from which the Tokugawa clan ruled Japan for over two-and-a-half centuries. The Tokyo Imperial Palace (the emperor’s official residence) is today located on the site of Edo Castle. Indeed, Edo was renamed Tokyo in 1868, and is today the capital of Japan.

After the first shogun, the mentioned Tokugawa Ieyasu, Japan was ruled by a succession of 14 other members of his clan. The last of them was Tokugawa Yoshinobu, during whose time Emperor Meiji took power over Japan into his own hands and de facto abolished the shogunate.

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