What Is Tokugawa Japan AP World History?

Tokugawa Japan, also known as the Edo Period, was a time of peace and stability in Japan from 1603 to 1868. This era was marked by the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate, a centralized government that brought an end to centuries of civil war and turmoil in Japan. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at Tokugawa Japan and its impact on AP World History.

The Tokugawa Shogunate

The Tokugawa shogunate was established by Tokugawa Ieyasu after his victory at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. He became the most powerful daimyo (feudal lord) in Japan and was appointed shogun by the emperor in 1603. The shogunate was characterized by a strict social hierarchy that placed samurai (warriors) at the top, followed by peasants, artisans, and merchants.

Social Hierarchy

The social hierarchy of Tokugawa Japan was based on Confucian principles that emphasized loyalty and obedience to one’s superiors. The samurai were at the top of this hierarchy and enjoyed privileges such as exemption from taxes and the right to carry swords. Peasants were next in line and made up the majority of the population.

They were required to pay high taxes but were protected by their lords. Artisans were skilled craftsmen who produced goods for trade while merchants engaged in commerce. Both artisans and merchants were considered lower class than peasants.

Isolationist Policies

During the Edo Period, Japan adopted isolationist policies that restricted foreign influence and trade with other countries. This policy helped to preserve Japanese culture but also hindered economic growth. The only port open for trade during this time was Nagasaki, where Dutch traders were allowed to conduct business with limited access to the mainland.

Cultural Development

Despite the isolationist policies of Tokugawa Japan, art and culture flourished during this time. The Kabuki theater emerged as a popular art form, and Japanese literature such as haiku and ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) became highly regarded. The tea ceremony also gained popularity, reflecting the emphasis on simplicity and harmony in Japanese culture.

Impact on AP World History

The Edo Period of Tokugawa Japan had a significant impact on AP World History. It was a time of relative peace and stability in Japan, allowing for cultural development and innovation.

The strict social hierarchy set the stage for modern-day Japan’s emphasis on hierarchy and respect for authority. Additionally, the isolationist policies of Tokugawa Japan influenced Japan’s later policy of sakoku (closed country) during the Meiji Restoration, which further emphasized Japan’s desire to maintain its unique cultural identity.


In conclusion, Tokugawa Japan was a pivotal period in Japanese history that had a lasting impact on AP World History. The establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate brought an end to centuries of civil war and turmoil in Japan while the strict social hierarchy set the stage for modern-day Japanese society. Despite isolationist policies, culture flourished during this time, leaving a lasting legacy that continues to influence Japanese art, literature, and philosophy today.