Tokugawa Religion

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Tokugawa Religion

In contrast to the received wisdom, Bellah here argues that Japanese modernisation did not begin with Admiral Perry's arrival in , and rapidly developed because of the superb Japanese ability for Robert N. Bellah, an American sociologist, received his Ph. He is best known for his work on community and religion. Although he has written on religions in nonwestern cultures, he has focused much of his research on the notion of civil religion in the West.

Bellah (Robert N.) Tokugawa Religion. The Values of Pre- industrial Japan - Persée

To Bellah, American society confronts a moral dilemma whereby communalism competes with individualism for domination. His most important book, Habits of the Heart , considers the American character and the decline of community.

Life in Edo Japan (1603-1868)

Bellah holds that the radical split between knowledge and commitment is untenable and can result only in a stunted personal and intellectual growth. He argues for a social science guided by communal values.


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Tokugawa Religion. One of the foremost authorities on Japanese history and culture, Bellah explains how religion in the Tokugawa period established the foundation for Japan's modern industrial economy and dispels two misconceptions about Japanese modernization: that it began with Admiral Perry's arrival in , and that it rapidly developed because of the superb Japanese ability for imitation.

In this revealing work, Bellah shows how the native doctrines of Buddhism, Confucianism and Shinto encouraged forms of logic and understanding necessary for economic development.

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In its efforts to close Japan off from damaging foreign influence, the Tokugawa shogunate also prohibited trade with Western nations and prevented Japanese merchants from trading abroad. With the Act of Seclusion , Japan was effectively cut off from Western nations for the next years with the exception of a small Dutch outpost in Nagasaki Harbor.

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At the same time, it maintained close relations with neighboring Korea and China, confirming a traditional East Asian political order with China at the center. The Neo-Confucian theory that dominated Japan during the Tokugawa Period recognized only four social classes—warriors samurai , artisans, farmers and merchants—and mobility between the four classes was officially prohibited. With peace restored, many samurai became bureaucrats or took up a trade.

At the same time, they were expected to maintain their warrior pride and military preparedness, which led to much frustration in their ranks. For their part, peasants who made up 80 percent of the Japanese population were forbidden from engaging in non-agricultural activities, thus ensuring consistent income for landowning authorities. The Japanese economy grew significantly during the Tokugawa period.

Tokugawa shogunate

A vibrant urban culture emerged centered in Kyoto, Osaka and Edo Tokyo , catering to merchants, samurai and townspeople rather than to nobles and daimyo, the traditional patrons. As agricultural production lagged in comparison to the mercantile and commercial sectors, samurai and daimyo did not fare as well as the merchant class. Despite efforts at fiscal reform, mounting opposition seriously weakened the Tokugawa shogunate from the midth to the midth century, when years of famine led to increased peasant uprisings.

The peace and stability of the Tokugawa period, and the economic development it fostered, set the stage for the rapid modernization that took place after the Meiji Restoration. In addition, the new regime opened the country once again to Western trade and influence and oversaw a buildup of military strength that would soon propel Japan onto the world stage. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!


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Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present. As servants of the daimyos, or great lords, the In late , over a period of six weeks, Imperial Japanese Army forces brutally murdered hundreds of thousands of people—including both soldiers and civilians—in the Chinese city of Nanking or Nanjing. The horrific events are known as the Nanking Massacre or the Rape of Born to a minor warlord in Okazaki, Japan, Tokugawa Ieyasu began his military training with the Imagawa family.


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He later allied himself with the powerful forces of Oda Nobunaga and then Toyotomi Hideyoshi, expanding his land holdings via a successful attack on the Shrewd at Hirohito was emperor of Japan from until his death in He took over at a time of rising democratic sentiment, but his country soon turned toward ultra-nationalism and militarism. Much of the fighting took place in what is now northeastern China.



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