Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Tokugawa Shogunate

My brief note yesterday may have conveyed the impression that I approve of the tyranny of the Tokugawas.  I don't of course.  But the sharply stratified society of Tokugawa Japan was  much the same in Europe.  Both liberties and food security for the common man were very limited in both Europe and Japan.  The difference is that Europeans had to put up a lot of pretty vicious wars on their territory as well.  Life in Japan was at least pretty predictable.  And there was always the "floating world" for those who rose above the peasantry.

Predictability is not everything, however, and it could be argued that the insecurity in Europe was what lay behind the scintillating and eternal works of art that Europe produced at that time:  The work of Bach, Handel, Vivaldi etc.  By comparison, Japan at that time  produced practically nothing cultural that has gained renown outside its own borders -- excepting of course the work of Hokusai

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

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