The Edo period was a period of economic and cultural prosperity under the protection of the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1868).
The beginnings of the Edo period
After the Battle of Sekigahara, Tokugawa Ieyasu defeated his rivals and was appointed Shogun in 1603 by the emperor. Thus, he laid the foundations of a centralized state, the capital settling in Edo, now Tokyo. https://www.britannica.com/event/Tokugawa-period
Ieyasu distributed the domains among the loyal daimyō, managing to maintain a balance of power between them, the daimyō being forced to spend a year in the capital and a year in the governed province. This practice of “political control over the daimyo” offered the shogun the possibility of centralizing power around the provinces and maintaining close relations with the vassals.
Characteristics of the period
In this direction, the city underwent major changes, the population grew and experienced a period of economic and cultural flourishing during the Edo period. Not only the Capital, but also other cities such as Osaka, became important economic centers. The Edo period is also characterized by the isolation of Japan from other countries, when only strictly controlled trade was allowed. Later, trade was allowed only with the Netherlands and possibly China in 1638 in the port of Nagasaki. This action also sought to limit the spread of Christianity in Japan, and persecution of Christians continued.
A flourishing period for art
Despite the isolation, the culture developed considerably especially among the urban population, mostly during the Genroku period, and art forms such as the Kabuki theater were born and enjoyed a resounding success. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytjhcZwjxGg
Society in Edo period Japan
An important aspect of this period is Confucian philosophy which considers moral principles, political and social hierarchy as very important for the proper functioning of society. Thus, at the top of the hierarchy were the warriors (samurai), followed by farmers, craftsmen and merchants. Those who practiced services considered impure (such as butchers), formed a fifth class and were marginalized. These very well-defined social categories could not be changed, people bearing the seal of the guild in which they were born in.
The end of an era
Towards the end of the Edo period, numerous natural disasters that caused a long period of famine among the people and economic and political instability, led to the end of military dictatorship in Japan and the restoration of the monarchy in 1868 (Meiji Restoration). Several factors led to this, including the pressure of foreigners led by American Commodore Perry (1853-1854) on the Japanese to reopen their borders to trade.