Edo

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Edo
other_name = Yedo
native_name = 江戸
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settlement_type = Former city
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map_caption = Former location of Edo and Present location of Tokyo


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subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = Japan
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established_title = Castle Built
established_date = 1457
established_title2 = Capital
established_date2 = 1603
established_title3 = Renamed Tokyo
established_date3 = 1868
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population_as_of = 1721
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nihongo|Edo|江戸, literally: bay-door, "estuary", pronounced|edo), once also spelled Yedo or Yeddo, is the former name of the Japanese capital Tokyo, and was the seat of power for the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan from 1603 to 1868. During this period it grew to become one of the largest cities in the world and the site of a vibrant urban culture centered on notions of the "floating world".Sansom, George. "A History of Japan: 1615–1867", p. 114.]

History

The site of the city, on what is now known as Tokyo Bay, had been settled for several centuries, but first became historically significant with the building of Edo Castle in 1457 by order of Ōta Dōkan. Kyoto was the site of the Japanese emperor's residence and the capital of Japan for many centuries, until the Tokugawa shogunate was established in 1603 and Edo became its seat of government.

Edo magistrates

* Ishimaru Sadatsuga, 1661. [Encyclopedia Britannica (1911): [http://books.google.com/books?id=HlQEAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA200&lpg=PA200&dq=tokugawa+silver+monopoly&source=web&ots=eqkS55Nu4Y&sig=AMzWc1M42xuBnir6p695ePcVKeI&hl=en#PPA201,M1 "Japan: Commerce in Tokugawa Times," p. 201.] ]

From the establishment of the Tokugawa "bakufu""s headquarters at Edo, Kyoto remained merely the formal capital of the country. The "de facto" capital was now Edo, because it was the center of real political power. Edo consequently rapidly grew from what had been a small, virtually unknown fishing village in 1457 to a metropolis of 1,000,000 residents by 1721, the largest city in the world at the time. [Gordon, Andrew. (2003). "A Modern History of Japan from Tokugawa Times to the Present", p. 23.]

Edo was repeatedly devastated by fires, with the Great Fire of Meireki in 1657—in which an estimated 100,000 people died—perhaps the most disastrous. During the Edo period there were about one hundred fires, typically started by accident and often quickly escalating to giant proportions, spreading through neighbourhoods of wooden "machiya" that were heated with charcoal fires. Between 1600 and 1945, Edo/Tokyo was leveled every 25–50 years or so by fire, earthquakes, tsunami, volcanic eruptions, and war.

In 1868, when the shogunate came to an end, the city was renamed "Tokyo", meaning "eastern capital", and the emperor moved his residence to Tokyo, making the city the formal capital of Japan.

* "Keiō 4", on the 17th day of the 7th month (September 3, 1868): Edo was renamed "Tokyo," i.e. meaning "Eastern Capital." [Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1956). "Kyoto: the Old Capital, 794–1869," p. 327.]
* "Keiō 4", on the 27th day of the 8th month, (October 12, 1868): Emperor Meiji is crowned in the Shishin-den in Kyoto.Ponsonby-Fane, p. 328.]
* "Keiō 4", on the 8th day of the 9th month (October 23, 1868): The nengō is formally changed from "Keiō" to "Meiji;" and a general amnesty is granted. [see above] ]

* "Meiji 2", on the 23rd day of the 10th month (1868): The emperor went to Tokyo; and Edo castle became an Imperial palace. [see above] ]

Government and administration

During the Edo period, the Shogunate appointed administrators called "machi bugyō" to run the police and, from the time of Tokugawa Yoshimune onward, the commoner fire department ("machibikeshi"). The "machi bugyō" heard criminal and civil suits and performed other administrative functions.

Geography

The city was arranged as a castle town, around Edo castle. The area immediately surrounding the castle, known as the "Yamanote", consisted largely of "daimyō" (feudal lords') mansions, whose families lived in Edo year-round as part of the "sankin kōtai" system; the "daimyō" themselves made journeys in alternating years to Edo and made use of these mansions for their extensive entourages. It was this extensive samurai (noble warrior class) population which defined the character of Edo, particularly in contrast to the two major cities of Kyoto and Osaka, neither of which were ruled by a "daimyō" or had any significant samurai population. Kyoto's character was dominated by the Imperial Court, the court nobles, its numerous Buddhist temples, and its traditional heritage and identity, while Osaka was the country's commercial center, dominated by the "chōnin" merchant class.

Other areas further from the center were the domains of commoners, or "chōnin" (町人), literally "townsfolk." The area known as Shitamachi (下町, lit. "lower town" or "downtown"), to the northeast of the castle, was perhaps one of the key centers of urban culture. The ancient Buddhist temple of Sensō-ji still stands in Asakusa and marks the center of an area of traditional "low-town" culture. Some of the shops in the streets before the temple have been carried on continuously in the same location since the Edo period.

The Sumida River, then simply called the Great River (大川), ran along the eastern edge of the city, along which one would find the shogunate's official rice storage warehouses [Taxes, and samurai stipends, were paid not in coin, but in rice. See "koku".] and other official buildings, along with some of the city's most famous restaurants.

The Edo Bridge (江戸橋, "Edo-bashi") marked the center of the city's commercial center, an area also known as "Kuramae" (蔵前, "in front of the storehouses"). Many fishermen, craftsmen, and other producers and retailers operated here, as did shippers who managed ships to and from Osaka (called "tarubune") and other cities, either taking goods into the city, or simply transferring them from sea-routes onto river barges or onto land routes such as the Tōkaidō, which terminated here. The area remains the center of Tokyo's financial and business district today.

The northeastern corner of the city, regarded as a dangerous direction in traditional "onmyōdō" (cosmology/geomancy), is guarded from evil spirits by a series of temples, including Sensō-ji and Kan'ei-ji. Just beyond these lay the districts of the "eta" or outcastes, who engaged in unclean vocations and were thus separated from the main sections of commoner residences. A long dirt path extended west from the riverbank, a short distance north of these "eta" districts, leading along the northern edge of the city to the Yoshiwara pleasure districts. Previously located within the city proper, close to Asakusa, the districts were rebuilt in this more distant location after the Meireki Fire of 1657.

Gallery

See also

*1703 Genroku earthquake
*Edokko (native of Edo)
*History of Tokyo
*Iki (a Japanese aesthetic ideal)

Notes

References

* Gordon, Andrew. (2003). "A Modern History of Japan from Tokugawa Times to the Present." Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-195-11060-9/ISBN 978-0-195-11060-9 (cloth); ISBN 0-195-11061-7/ISBN 978-0-195-11061-6.
* Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1956). "Kyoto: the Old Capital, 794–1869." Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society.
* Sansom, George. (1963). "A History of Japan: 1615–1867". Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-0527-5/ISBN 978-0-804-70527-1.
* Akira Naito (Author), Kazuo Hozumi. "Edo, the City that Became Tokyo: An Illustrated History". Kodansha International, Tokyo (2003). ISBN 4770027575
* Alternate spelling from 1911 "Encyclopædia Britannica" article.

External links


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