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Alternate Attendance (Sankin Kotai)

Daimyo were required to reside in Edo during alternate years, helping the shoguns maintain control of the daimyo.

Bakufu (or Shogunate)

The administrative authority which ruled Japan under the Tokugawa shoguns.


A professional puppet theater which developed in Japan during the Edo period.


A word coined in the 19th century to refer to the outcast classes known as "eta" and "hinin."


Military gentry or warrior class.


Way of the warrior.


A term meaning townspeople, which encompassed artisans and merchants.


This is the title for the territorial warlords who had autonomous control of their domains


The former name for Tokyo, meaning "river gate." The name was in use from from 1180-1868.


This is the Japanese word for the outdoor footwear in use during the Edo Period, which consisted of a thong attached to a wooden platform with two crosswise supports


A person of the arts. The first were men, but later only women entered the occupation.


A game for two players in which black and white stones are placed on the intersections of lines on a playing board.


One of three major forms of classical theatrical entertainment in Japan (Bunraku and Noh are two others).


The third level in the Edo caste system, designated for artisans and craftsmen.


The second level in the Edo system, designated for farmers and peasants.


A masterless samurai.


One who serves. The elite warriors of pre-modern Japan and became the ruling class during the late 12th century. Their privileged status was dissolved in the mid-1870s.


Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment.


The top level in the Edo system, designated for the samurai.


Commonly referred to as Japanese chess, shogi is a board game for two players


Barbarian-subduing Generalissimo. The title was first used in the 8th century for Japan's supreme rulers.


The fourth level of the Edo system, designated for merchants.

Tokugawa Family

The major warrior lineage in Japanese history. Dominated Japanese politics from 1600-1868.

Tokugawa Shogunate

Established by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the Tokugawa Shogunate consisted of 12 shoguns who ruled from 1603-1868.

Tokugawa Period

This period stretched from the late 16th century when Tokugawa Ieyasu cemented his rule over Japan until 1868 when the last shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, resigned.


A term that means "pictures of the floating world." The genre is composed mostly of woodblock prints (though it does include some paintings) that became popular among the prosperous merchant classes. The subject matter usually focuses on life in the entertainment districts, the popular courtesans of the time, and famous Kabuki actors.


A pleasure district in Tokyo—gated, walled and surrounded by a moat. The district was maintained until 1957 when licensed prostitution quarters were banned throughout Japan. Woodblock-print artists depicted its beauties and kabuki actors, while popular novelists celebrated its escapades. Here, they could escape from the rigid class distinctions of society.

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