The period began with the consolidation of the political reigns of power by the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and effectively concluded with the opening of Japan by Matthew Perry’s Black Ships in Tokyo Bay and the Meiji Restoration.
To begin with, Japan shifted from becoming a disunited polity ruled by many leaders, to an almost centralized government run from Edo. Although Japan was still feudal, this feudal system was fairly standardized. The royal family and the court became increasingly powerful and these institutions were developed. The emperor gained a lot of power from the landowners during this period. Class differences were rigidly enforced. While we think of this as a bad thing today, at the time is helped create stability and allowed people to understand where they fit in and what role they should play within the polity of Japan.
Much of the key modernization of this period was economic, and the most important aspect of this was urbanization. Cities began to spring up in Japan, and regions became better defined by these urban centres. By the 1750s both Kyoto and Osaka has nearly half a million people each. These new cities required the creation of road networks and the flourishing of trade and commerce.On of the staples of the Edo economy was rice, available to be grown and harvested by everyone. The daimyo collected his tax in the form of rice. The price of this commodity would fluctuate depending on the harvest and there was a sophisticated market in Edo to help offset price