Pre-Tougawa and Tokugawa Japan

Reading 1: Feudal Japan and Korea

Reading 2: Japan and Cultural Influences

Documents to help

Stelzer PPTJapan Themes
G-GREASES Chart for pre-Tokugawa and Tokugawa Japan


Specific Tokugawa Topics (each 1 page):
Cool Tokugawa Websites
Samurai Information

Assignments (there are 2):

ALL: Write 1 paragraph comparing pre-Tokugawa with Tokugawa Japan. Use an element of you G-GREASES chart for evidence/ support of your topic.

AND (choice of 1 of the below, can be in small groups):
Samurais & Merchants:
  • Demonstrate the rise and fall of the samurai and merchants (poster, chart, etc) that explains what happened to the them and why
  • Make a samurai handbook of bushido
  • Create a 3 minute presentation about samurai life, weapons, etc.
  • storyboard, presentation, poster about the life/role of women during this time-period.
  • draw book or present about art during the Tokugawa era (woodblocks, theater, etc)
Castle Towns
  • present (3 minutes) about castle towns

Due Date: January 21st (1A) and January 22 (1B)

Examples for the written paragraph comparison:
  • Feudal: Decentralized feudalism characterized by fights between daimyos & samurai culture
  • Tokugawa: Centralized government, alternate attendance system of control, peaceful era
  • Feudal: Rice economy, castle defenses
  • Tokugawa: Merchant economy, trade, rise of cities
Society/ Social Classes:
  • Feudal: Class system. Samurai on top, merchant at bottom, role of women
  • Tokugawa: Peace leading to rise of merchants and decline of samurai, changing roles for women

Can also look at art, religion (for both similiarities and contrast), etc.

End of the Tokugawa Shogunate

Investigating Japan Chapters 7 & 8



  1. Go to this website
  2. Watch the video to which your group is assigned
  3. In your group, discuss these questions and prepare a 1-2 minute report to the class (informal)
  4. As groups are presenting their information, take notes on your GREASES chart.

DBQ Writing Exercise

Review Documents B & D on pp. 17-18 of Investigating Japan book. They are letters between Commodore Perry and the Emperor of Japan regarding U.S. requests for Japan to open itself to trade and assistance of US ships.

Prompt: 1 paragraph on Activity 3 on p. 18: "What do the documents B and D reveal about the respective positions of Japan and the United States of America in the world in 1853?"
Assignment: 1 paragraph analyzing the prompt.
Due: Tues Feb 5 (for 2b and 4b); Wed, Feb 6th (for 1a)

  • you must quote from EACH document to support your main idea
  • you MUST use TRANSITION words
  • you MUST fill out this SOAPS document (1 chart for EACH document) BEFORE you write your paragraph



A. Togukawa Shogunate (1600-1868)

Feudal Japan (Chapter 4)
  1. What was the feudal structure of Tokugawa and how/ why did it change over time (for example, what happened to the Samurai? Merchants?)
  2. What were the key elements of samurai life?

Isolationism (Chapters 5 and 6)
  1. How did isolationism affect Japan politically, economically and socially?

Japanese foreign policy: China, Europe and the United States (Chapters 5, 6 and 7)
  1. What affect did Perry/ Western visitors have on Japan and the shogunate rule?
  2. What were the key elements of the Treaty of Kanagawa?

The fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate (Chapters 6, 7 and 8 )
  1. What were the main factors that led to the fall of the Togukawa Shogunate?

B. Meiji Restoration (1868-1912)

  1. Analyze the political, social and economic structure of Japan before and after the Meiji Restoration.
  2. In what ways did society change from the Tokugawa (1600-1868) to the Meiji period?
  3. How did the Japanese response to the West differ from Qing dynasty’s response?

C. Japanese Nationalism and Imperialism (1904-1945)

  1. What role did nationalist leaders and their ideology play in building nationalism in Japan
  2. What were the causes of their expansionist policy?
  3. What was the impact of their expansionist policy?

  1. What was the impact of WWII?
  2. How did the Allied Occupation impact Japan?


1. Here is a .pdf overview of the Tokugawa Period:

2. Two documents (only 1 page each) that address the social, political and economic policies of the Tokugawa:

3. Click here to go to PBS's terrific, interactive website that shows a lot about life in Edo (Tokyo) under the Tokugawa
4. Interested in the Samurai? Here is an excerpt (part) of a Samurai diary from the 17th Century:
5. Click here to review MIT's "Black Ships and Samurai", an interesting, dynamic look at different perspectives on culture and history depicted through art. This resource examines Commodore Perry and his Black Ship's arrival in Japan through the perspectives of American and Japanese artists.


: Excellent .pdf detailing the changes under the Meiji Restoration.
: Lots of photos and drawings which demonstrate Japanese embrace of the West.
and : The "WHY" and "HOW" of the Meiji's modernization


Meiji Lessons:
Learning outcomes #1: In what ways did society change from the Tokugawa (1600-1868) to the Meiji period?

1. Identify several challenges facing the new leadership of Japan.
2. Determine which feudal institutions had to be dismantled to enable successful reform.
3. Assess possible motives explaining why Japanese at all levels embraced modernity.

Read pages 23-25 and then answer the Activity Questions on page 25 #1.
Once you have completed #1, then read the Charter Oath of 1868 and answer the following questions:

The Charter Oath (1868)
By this oath we set up as our aim the establishment of the national weal on a broad basis and the framing of a constitution and laws.
1. Deliberative assemblies shall be widely established and all matters decided by public discussion.
2. All classes, high and low, shall unite in vigorously carrying out the administration of affairs of state.
3. The common people, no less than the civil and military officials, shall each be allowed to pursue his own calling so that there may be no discontent.
4. Evil customs of the past shall be broken off and everything based upon the just laws of Nature.
5. Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to strengthen the foundations of imperial rule.

The oath was written by the new leaders and given to the newly restored emperor to present to the people.

Critical Thinking Questions.

1. How would the Charter Oath be used to launch the modernization of Japan?
For example-Article 5 states that “Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to strengthen the foundations of imperial rule.” The clear implication is that the old isolation policy has come to a decisive end and there will be effort to learn western ways and knowledge, but this clearly includes only such knowledge as supports “the foundations of imperial rule.”

2. Why modernize? Why become like the west? How did the Japanese perceive the west during this time?

3. How was it possible to dismantle the old feudal institutions so completely?

4. Why did Japanese at all levels throw themselves so enthusiastically into making their nation modern? What was in it for them?

5. Why did the Japanese embark on the reformation of their society? How were they able to succeed where other nations failed (e.g.. China)?

Key Point: When the Meiji period ended, with the death of the emperor in 1912, Japan had: (1) a highly centralized, bureaucratic government; (2) a constitution establishing an elected parliament; (3) a well-developed transport and communication system; (4) a highly educated population free of feudal class restrictions; (5) an established and rapidly growing industrial sector based on the latest technology; and (6) a powerful army and navy


Essay Question:

1. Pick THREE of the following four "areas" to write about:
  • political
  • economic
  • social
  • military

2. Your essay (5 paragraph) will answer the following:

Analyze the (political/ economic/ social/ military) changes during the Meiji period.

Para 1: Introduction
  • Thesis
Para 2: (Either political/ economic/ social/ military)
Para 3: Area of analysis #2
Para 3: Area of analysis #3

; Graphic Organizer for essay planning/ organizing

C. Nationalism/ Imperialism Resources

(to be added)


  • Japan is an island country (four major) that is both protected AND isolated by ocean
  • It has limited living space (it's 75% mountains) and natural resources

Japan has been greatly influenced by China (in pre-industrial times):
Writing (5th Century A.D.)
Government structure

And has also been influenced by the U.S. and Europe (industrial times)
Government structure