1611 Hidetada begins to put pressure on Hideyori (the most powerful Daimyo) to relinquish
official power. He also exacts an oath of allegiance from other Daimyo in central and western Japan.
1611 Go-Mizunoo becomes Emperor.
1612 Full persecution of the Christian faith is started. Hidetada exacts an oath of allegiance
from the Daimyo in northern Japan.
1613 An agent of the English East India Company establishes an English trading post at Hirado.
January 1614 Hidetada issues an order which suppresses Christianity throughout the country.
Churches were destroyed and many missionaries were imprisoned and later killed.
December 1614 Hidetada begins a siege of Osaka castle (home to the last powerful Daimyo clan, the
Tozama Daimyo) by sending 70,000 troops under the command of Hidetada to surround the castle. The
castle is defended by thousands of Ronin who come from communes around the country hired by the
January 1615 A peace proposal is signed between Hidetada and Hideyori but Hidetada breaks the
agreement and Hidetada begins the process of filling in the moats and tearing down the outer walls
of Osaka castle.
May 1615 The moats are sufficiently filled in after 4 months to continue the siege of a now
exposed and vulnerable Osaka castle. The battle recommences full force.
On June 5, 1615 Toyotomi Hideyori, has no means of protecting himself from the advancing Tokugawa
forces. He and 30 others who accompany him in the burning castle, commit suicide. This ends the
Toyotomi clan and paves the way for the 250-year Tokugawa Shogunate. Hideyori's mother is killed by
a "retainer" to prevent her capture. Hidetada is now in total control of Japan.
June 1, 1616 Hidetada dies and Hidetada assumes all Shogunal powers.
1616 The ban on Christianity is reaffirmed. All foreign trade, except Chinese, is restricted to
Nagasaki and Hirado.
1619 Widespread famine hits Japan. (During the Tokugawa Period, there were 154 famines, of which
21 were widespread and serious.)
1620 The Bakufu arranges a marriage between Emperor Go-Mizunoo and the daughter (Kazuko) of
1622 Hidetada orders the execution of 55 Christian missionaries and converts in Nagasaki. This
sent a powerful message to Rome that the Tokugawa will not tolerate the church getting a foothold in
1623 Hidetada retires and his son, Iemitsu, becomes third Shogun. However, as is usual, Hidetada
retained all authority until his death.
The English abandon their trading post at Hirado and abandon the idea of trading with Japan.
1624 Spaniards (priests and laymen) are banned from the country and further contact with them is
1627 The Bakufu further limits the Emperor's powers by stripping him of the right to select and
nominate senior priests. The Bakufu's deputy in Kyoto cancels several already made appointments and
Emperor Go-Mizunoo threatens to abdicate, but the Bakufu refuses to change the ruling.
1628 Hidetada orders the execution of more Christians in Nagasaki.
1629 Emperor Go-Mizunoo is forced to abdicate the throne. The position of Emperor of Japan is not
occupied by anyone at this time.
1630 Princess Oki-ko, Go-Mizunoo's daughter with Kazuko, succeeds to the throne as Empress
Myosho. A granddaughter of the Shogun now occupies the throne.
1630 The Bakufu issues a prohibition against books intended to propagate Christianity and singled
out books of religion that had been translated by Jesuit missionaries into Chinese, which were able
to be more easily read by more Japanese than other books published in European languages.
1632 Hidetada dies and Iemitsu assumes full Shogunal powers.
1633 Ban on overseas sailing of ships other than Hosho-sen.
1634 Iemitsu leads an army of over 300,000 men to Kyoto as a show of force and a reminder to the
court and the Tozama Daimyo that he is in control.
1634 The Bakufu structure is strengthened with the creation of the posts of Roju (Elders),
Wakadoshiyori (Junior Elders), Bugyo (Commissioners), and Hyojoshu (Judicial Council).
1635 Buke Shohatto is revised. This revision includes a formalization of the Sankin-Kotai system.
All religious matters brought under control of the Jisha Bugyo (Commissioner of Temples & Shrines).
1636 Ban on Japanese travel abroad. Portuguese traders confined to Deshima Island off Nagasaki.
1637 - 1638 A peasant uprising (the Shimabara Uprising), in which Christians take a leading role,
takes place on the Shimabara Peninsula of Kyushu. It is estimated that of the 37,000 people who took
part, only about 100 escaped alive.
1638 Portuguese priest and traders are ousted and Portuguese trading ships are banned from the
country. Travel abroad by Japanese is further restricted as the death penalty is imposed on anyone
who attempts to leave the country or who, having already left, tries to return. In addition, the
building of ships with a capacity of more than 2,500 bushels is forbidden.
1639 Policy of total exclusion implemented (Sakoku Rei).
1640 All members of a Portuguese diplomatic mission from Macao are executed when they arrive in
Japan to request a reopening of trade.
All Japanese ordered to register at temple of their choice.
1641 Dutch traders moved from Hirado and restricted to Dejima.
Chinese restricted to Nagasaki.
1643 Go-Komyo becomes Emperor.
1644-1694 Matsuo Basho. First writer of serious haiku. Born a Samurai but became a wandering
1651 Ietsuna, Iemitsu's son, becomes the fourth Shogun at the age of eleven. (He suffers from
poor health during his entire 29 year reign.)
1653-1724 Chikamatsu Monzaemon. The most well known Kabuki and Bunraku writer and an ex-Ronin.
1654 Go-Sai becomes Emperor, although the formal coronation ceremony isn't until 1656.
1654 Ingen, a Chinese priest, founds the obaku sect of Zen Buddhism.
1657 Great Edo fire.
1663 Reigen becomes Emperor.
1680 Ietsuna dies without a son and is succeeded by his younger brother. Tsunayoshi, of
Tatebayashi, becomes the fifth Shogun at the age of 34.
Whereas the first four Tokugawa Shoguns had emphasized that Samurai were to devote half of their
time to martial arts and the other half to learning, by the time Tsunayoshi took office learning was
almost completely predominant. In addition, relations with the imperial court had relaxed in
severity and Tozama Daimyo were given much more leeway in running their own lives and provincial
affairs, including in matters of marriages and succession.
1685 The ban against books intending to propagate Christianity is renewed.
1687 Higashiyama becomes Emperor.
Total lands now assessed at 25.8 million koku.
My research leads me to believe that during this time period that Nishiki Goi are becoming a form of
living art. Rice farmers introduced carp into their irrigation ponds to supplement their diet of
rice, and the excrement of the carp is good fertilizer for the rice to grow.
Koi in in some rice paddies occasionally develop rare mutant color variations. Rice farmers bring
the colored Koi to the nearest Daimyo's castle to gain favor, or perhaps financial reward, by
putting them in the Daimyo's castle moats.
This starts the wheels turning for the expansion of Koi as an art form. I can only assume that since
this is one the first time periods of peace, and it is known historically as the first cultural
expansion of Japan, that some Daimyo started trading different Koi colors and patterns with other
1700 George Sansom writes of Japanese society as it entered the 18th century: "The fixed pattern
of feudal administration was liberal enough to allow a measure of freedom in spheres remote from
politics, so that during the eighteenth century Japan developed a society based on law and
privilege, governed by harsh principle, but nevertheless achieving in practice great urbanity and
style. It was closed to outside influences and therefore could not be refreshed by the winds of new
doctrine then blowing about the Western world; but probably no contemporary European community was
more civilized and polished."
1701- 1703 Incident of the 47 Ronin (made famous in the Kabuki play Chushingura). After 47 Ronin
kill a Daimyo in his Edo headquarters in revenge of their former Daimyo's death, they are ordered to
commit seppuku. This was an important precedent as it showed that the government now held civil law
over the acceptance of military honor.
1703 An earthquake in the Kanto area kills an estimated 150,000 people in Edo.
1704-1711 Hoei Era
1707-1708 Mt. Fuji erupts on numerous occasions, destroying hundreds of square miles of
6. Tokugawa Ienobu (1709 -1712)
January 1709 Tsunayoshi dies and his nephew, Ienobu, of Kofu, becomes the sixth Shogun.
1709 Nakamikado becomes Emperor.
1711-1716 Shotoku Era
7. Tokugawa Ietsugu (1712 -1716)
Late 1712 Ienobu dies after an illness of several months. Ietsugu, his three and a half year old
son, becomes the seventh Shogun.
1713-1714 Russians visit Kuril Islands in an attempt to find Japan.
8. Tokugawa Yoshimune (1716 -1745) Start of the 2nd Family of Shoguns
1716 Ietsugu dies, thus ending the Hidetada and Iemitsu line of Shoguns. Yoshimune, the Daimyo of
Kii, becomes the eighth Shogun.
Thinking that the Samurai class had tilted too far towards learning and leisure, and away from
the martial arts and discipline, he frequently issues edicts demanding frugality and self
discipline. These are, in large part, ignored.
Under Yoshimune's leadership, the legal and judicial system undergoes considerable expansion.
Although the Tokugawa bureaucracy is staffed only by Samurai, a non-militaristic and more rational
approach is brought to conflict resolution. Yoshimune also reforms the currency and tries to revive
the agricultural underpinnings of the country in order to take back some power form the now strong
merchant class. However, the next two successors were incompetent and power eventually fell to
dishonest and greedy counselors.
1716-1736 Kyoho Era
1720 Ban lifted on the importation of foreign books and Chinese translations (with the exception
of books directly concerned with Christianity).
1720 Statistical Interlude - Population: The population of Japan reaches more than 31 million by
1720, and remained stable at that level thereafter. In addition, the population of Edo approaches 1
million by 1700 as it develops into the national political center. By the eighteenth century more
than 15% of the population lived in major cities and towns of some kind.
1721 Five year census begun.
1730 Because Bakufu policy closed the country to food imports and actively discouraged crop
diversification, farmers had to increase the amount of land under cultivation in order to feed the
growing population - with the amount being doubled between the beginning of the Tokugawa Period and
about 1730. After 1730, lesser and lesser amounts of land were converted to cultivation and,
therefore, the population was unable to increase.
1732 Widespread famine hits Japan, affecting about 1,600,000 people and killing at least 17,000.
1735 Sakuramachi becomes Emperor.
1736-1741 Gembun Era
1739 A Russian ship, captained by a Dane, visits several points along the east coast of Japan -
including a reported sighting off the coast of Shimoda.
1741-1744 Kanpo Era
1742 Codification of Bakufu laws begun.
1744-1748 Enko Era
9. Tokugawa Ieshige (1745 -1760)
1745 Yoshimune retires and names Ieshige as the ninth Shogun.
1747 Momozono becomes Emperor.
1748-1751 Kanen Era
1751-1764 Horeki Era
1751 Yoshimune dies.
1753-1806 Kitagawa Utamaro. Ukiyoe artist famous for his pictures of the "ideal" woman.
10. Tokugawa Ieharu (1760 -1786)
1760 Ieshige retires. Ieharu becomes tenth Shogun.
1760-1849 Katsushika Hokusai. Ukiyoe artist famous for his landscape pictures.
1762 Go-Sakuramachi becomes Emperor, although the formal coronation ceremony isn't until the next
1764-1772 Meiwa Era.
1769 A proposal to relax the ban on building ships capable of ocean travel is proposed, but
defeated by conservatives.
1770 Go-Momozono becomes Emperor, although the coronation ceremony isn't until the next year.
1771 Japanese dissect a criminal's body while following diagrams and plates in a translation of a
Dutch book on anatomy. Japanese interest in 'Dutch' learning is increasing and spreading.
1772-1781 Anei Era.
1777-1779 Russian's again visit the Kuril islands. Meeting Japanese form Matsumae, they inquire
about trade but are told that all trade is restricted to Nagasaki.
1780 Kokaku becomes Emperor.
1781-1789 Temmei Era.
1783 Mount Asama, located on the western border of the province of Kozuke, erupts. A large number
of towns and villages are destroyed and ashes buried the province and its farm lands to a depth of
several feet, as well as areas in other, nearby, provinces. Famine soon follows.
1783-1787 The Famine of Temmei reduces the population of Japan by an estimated one million
11. Tokugawa Ienari (1786 -1837)
1786 Ieharu dies and Ienari becomes eleventh Shogun. Matsudaira Sadanobu becomes regent until
1793 while Ienari is a minor. Ienari was notorious for his inefficiency, extravagance, and vanity.
According to Kitagawa, his chief accomplishment while in office was to have maintained 40
mistresses' and sired 55 children.
1789-1801 Kansei Era.
1792 The governor of Siberia sends an expedition to Japan. They make it through Hokkaido but are
escorted under heavy guard to Matsumae where they are told to leave as no interactions with
foreigners are allowed by law. It is reiterated that any trade that might be approved must go
through the port of Nagasaki.
1797-1858 Ando Hiroshige. Ukiyoe artist famous for his "53 Stages of Tokaido Highway" and other
1792 Russian ship enters Nemuro harbor asking to open trade relations for Russia. Request is
denied but they are given permit to enter Nagasaki instead.
1798 Shogunate begins colonizing Hokkaido.
1801-1804 Kowa Era.
1804-1829 Bunka-Bunsei Period. Second major cultural expansion of the Tokugawa period. Centered
1804-1818 Bunka Era.
1804 Russian ship enters Nagasaki harbor asking for trade concessions. Japan refuses and ship
leaves after six unfruitful months.
1808 British frigate enters Nagasaki harbor under Dutch flag looking for Dutch Ships. Leaves
without finding and without bombarding the harbor as threatened.
1811 Japanese outpost captures Russian naval officer. They hold him but treat him well.
1811 Department of official translators of Western books set up within the Bakufu.
1813 Russians capture Bakufu monopoly merchant and exchange him for Japanese-held Russian naval
1817 Ninko becomes Emperor.
1818-1830 Bunsei Era.
1819 British ship enters Uraga Bay. Armed struggle with Japanese ensues before they leave.
1820 - Koi were first bred in Japan in the 1820s, initially in the town of Ojiya in the Niigata
prefecture on the north eastern coast of mainland Japan. This area is situated high in the
mountains, where snow can fall up to several feet in depth, cutting of access to the area in the
winter months. This devotion to breeding carp led to the Niigata region becoming established as the
centre of the growing Koi industry.
1824 British ship lands on island off Satsuma coast. Armed fighting ensues before they leave.
1825 Bakufu issues orders for all authorities to drive away all foreign vessels "without second
1830-1844 Tempo Era
Crop failures widespread between 1824 & 1832, severe famine in Northern Japan in 1833, Nationwide
famine in 1836, debt to Osaka merchants alone by 1840 total more than 60 million ryo (1 ryo of gold
= 1 koku of rice).
1832 Total land now assessed at 30.4 million koku.
1834 Another famine reduces the population to less than it was in the 1730's.
1836-1837 Widespread famine hits Japan.
1837 Oshio Heihachiro, until recently a minor official in the Osaka city magistrate, leads an
attack on Osaka Castle to gain control of the city and relieve the famine starved city dwellers. The
rebellion is quickly put down.
12. Tokugawa Ieyoshi (1837 -1853)
1837 Ienari resigns. Ieyoshi becomes twelfth Shogun (although Ienari retains political control).
1837 An American merchant ship (the Morrison) enters Edo Bay but is driven off by gun batteries
at Uraga. It goes to Kagoshima and is driven off there as well.
1839-1842 The "Opium War" takes place between China and Great Britain. As the Japanese hear of
this from both Chinese and Dutch contacts, Japanese 'Dutch Learning' (rangaku) shifts from just
medicine, economics, and botany, to include military science as well. Rangaku is slowly replaced
with Yogaku (Western Learning).
1841 Ex-Shogun Ienari dies. Ieyoshi begins purge of government officials and implementation of
Tempo reforms. Under leadership of Mizuno Tadakuni, Bakufu tries to reestablish control over Daimyo
affairs, but this ultimately proves unsuccessful.
1842 Order to drive off all foreign ships relaxed, allowing ships that are "storm-damaged or
shipwrecked, come seeking food, fuel, or water" to enter port.
1844-1848 Koka Era.
1844 A Dutch warship enters Nagasaki harbor with an envoy carrying a letter to the Shogun from
the King of Holland. The letter tries to explain to the Bakufu that Western advances in science and
the growth in international trade would make the opening of Japan inevitable. The bakudu politely,
but negatively, replies the country must stay closed.
Even though the Dutch were told to leave, historically the Dutch were a people that could gain some
dialogue with the Tokugawa leadership. This polite expulsion is completely different than the way
other people are treated.
1845 Mizuno Tadakuni removed from office (for the second and final time) in disgrace. Other
associates are jailed and/or imprisoned.
1845 Commodore James Biddle is sent to Japan by the US with two warships in order to open trade
between the two countries. The Japanese refused and Biddle simply left.
America goes knocking and gets the cold shoulder.
1847 Komei becomes Emperor.
1848-1854 Kaei Era.
1852 Dutch warn Bakufu that Perry will come and what he will seek.
Since the Dutch and the Bakufu are 'buddies' the Dutch 'rat out' Commodore Perry.
13. Tokugawa Iesada (1853 -1858)
1853 Iesada becomes thirteenth Shogun.
(Over the next years, it becomes apparent that he is not 100% mentally competent and the
nation is administered in his name by the senior minister, Abe Masahiro. In addition, he never
marries and produces no heirs, forcing the Bakufu to choose one at a later date.)
July 8, 1853 Commodore Perry arrives at Uraga with letter for the Shogun demanding an opening of
trade relations with the US. He leaves the letter and tells the Bakufu that he will return for
answer early in 1854. He then departs to Okinawa for the winter.
Early 1854 Bakufu asks opinion of Emperor and all Daimyo on the issue of what to do about Perry's
It is apparent at this time that their is a major change in the way the Bakufu handles foreign
affairs. Prior to this time foreign ships were turned away or destroyed. Something is going on that
is not apparent. One can only assume that some of the leadership of Japan has been tainted or swayed
by goods and services being offered behind closed doors to people of influence in the Japanese power
structure. Perhaps in this period, the Emperor of Japan has regained a large part of the power of
the office that was stripped by the first Shogunate.
1854-1860 Ansei Era.
February, 1854 Perry returns to Edo to begin negotiations on the opening of trade relations
between Japan and the US.
February, 1854 Yoshida Torajiro and another man attempt to board one of Perry's ships in an
attempt to get to the West, but they are sent back to shore and later arrested by the Japanese for
attempting to leave the country.
March 31, 1854 The Treaty of Kanagawa is signed between Japan and the US opening Hakodate and
Shimoda to US vessels for provisioning, promising fair treatment of shipwrecked sailors and
extraterritoriality, allowing US trade agents to live in open ports, and approving a future US
Consul to live in Shimoda. (In fact, the Japanese bureaucracy obfuscated, stalled, and did anything
to prevent any trade from taking place.)
This is a very historic point in the history of the Shogunate. Prior to this NO foreign consults
were tolerated except the Dutch on a very limited basis. This is the beginning of the end for the
rule of the Shoguns.
October, 1854 A treaty similar to that signed with the US is signed between Japan and Great
1854 Bakufu lifts ban on building large ships and Satsuma (the most progressive of the han)
begins building large western-style sailing ships.
Westernization begins in earnest. There is no turning back as the Japan finds that western goods are
far superior to their prior lifestyle.
February, 1855 The Emperor gives his approval to the treaty that had been concluded with the US -
although he had been misled as to what it really contained.
A treaty similar to that signed with the US is signed between Japan and Russia.
November, 1855 A treaty similar to that signed with the US is signed between Japan and Holland..
August, 1856 Townsend Harris arrives in Shimoda as the first US Consulate.
March, 1857 Harris warns the Bakufu that the US will not tolerate Japanese stalling in trade
agreements for much longer. This is taken to heart and the bureaucracy is told to cooperate.
June 1857 The Bakufu agrees to amendments to the Treaty of Kanagawa as proposed by Harris. The
amendments include opening the port of Nagasaki to American ships and affirming extraterritoriality.
December 7, 1857 The Shogun takes the unprecedented step of meeting in person with Harris.
April 1858 Ii Naosuke (Daimyo of Hikone, the largest of the han) is appointed regent to the
Shogun. He supports temporarily opening the country to the westerners in order to learn enough to
fight them and begins negotiations with Harris. He is bitterly opposed by Tokugawa Nariaki, the
Daimyo of Mito, who opposes the opening of the country and vows to fight at any cost. Those
throughout the country who oppose the opening of the country despise Ii for his policies and his
high-handed treatment of people who oppose him and start working to overthrow the Bakufu.
July 29, 1858 The Treaty of Amity & Commerce is signed with the US giving free trade at 6 ports,
allowing permanent foreign residents in Edo and Osaka, and normal trade tariffs. Ii Naosuke, as
Bakufu regent, approves the treaty unilaterally and against the wishes of a good many of the other
Daimyo. The Daimyos of Mito, Owari, and Fukui are punished for expressing their disapproval of the
signing. Mito and his heir, Hitotsubashi Keiki, are placed under house arrest and the others are
forced to retire. This infuriates many and the loyalist movement begins to grow.
Another nail in the coffin of the Bakufu.
This treaty also allows the freedom of worship for foreigners, but not Japanese, and approves the
building of cemeteries for foreigners who die in Japan.
Christianity is recognized for the first time in Japan on an official level.
July 1858 Within a week of signing the commercial treaty with the U.S., Ii Naosuke appoints
Iemochi, the son of the Daimyo of Kii, as the successor to the Shogun. His selection comes about
after a bitter dispute within the Bakufu. Traditionally, the next Shogun was chosen from the houses
of Kii, Mito, or Owari when the current Shogun didn't produce an heir. Although Iemochi was
qualified to succeed, he was only twelve years old and not experienced enough to lead the country.
On the other hand, Yoshinobu (Hitotsubashi Keiki), the son of the Daimyo of Mito and therefore also
qualified to succeed, was proposed as the successor. He was older and thus more experienced but to
this time Mito had always been excluded from the list of successors to the Shogunate. The argument
between the two candidates thus came down to a fight between the traditionalists and the
14. Tokugawa Iemochi (1858 -1866)
August, 1858 Iesada dies and Iemochi is appointed the fourteenth Shogun.
Treaties similar to those signed a month ago with the US are signed with Great Britain, Russia,
Holland, and France.
October, 1858 The Emperor orders Ii Naosuke to come to Kyoto to explain his conduct in approving
the foreign treaties and his treatment of other Daimyo. He refuses to go and sends Manabe as his
February, 1859 Manabe convinces the Emperor that the Bakufu is, at heart, opposed to opening the
country and gets the Emperor to consent to the current treaties.
1859 Chaplains from several countries and from several denominations begin arriving to minister
to foreigners in Japan. Of course they also hope to server as missionaries to the Japanese, but that
is still forbidden.
1860-1861 Manen Era.
Spring 1860 80 Bakufu officials are sent to Washington D.C. to ratify the Treaty of Amity &
Commerce. They sail in a Japanese made ship with an all-Japanese crew.
March 1860 Ii Naosuke is assassinated in Edo by Samurai opposing his signing of the commercial
treaty, his opening of the country, his appointment of Iemochi as Shogun, and his harsh treatment of
those who oppose him.
1861-1864 Bunkyu Era.
1861 Preoccupied at home with its own civil war, the U.S. relinquishes its leading role in
Japanese affairs to Great Britain, which, by 1864, controlled nearly 90% of Japan's trade with
January 1862 Ando Nobumasa, an advisor to the Shogun, escapes an assassination attempt in Edo.
While he survives, he is hurt badly enough to be forced to retire. He is despised for his plans to
marry the Shogun to Chikako, the Emperor's younger sister, (which eventually did take place) and for
the rumors that he plans to replace Emperor Komei with someone more loyal to the Bakufu. Loyalist
opponents understood that, had the marriage plan been allowed to go through, it would have been
impossible for them to attack the Bakufu without also indirectly attacking the imperial family.
June 1862 Choshu and Satsuma station troops in Kyoto in an attempt to influence the Emperor into
supporting their positions. (Note that their positions were not the same. Choshu-han, like Tosa-han,
was now controlled by men who supported the complete overthrow of the Bakufu and restoration of
power to the Emperor. Satsuma-han, under the control of Shimazu Hisamitsu supported the policy of
uniting the imperial court and the Bakufu - much like Ando had proposed with his plans to intermarry
the two families.)
June 1862 Having become the most powerful of the Daimyo in Kyoto, and
therefore wielding the most influence with the imperial court, Shimazu Hisamitsu arranged to have
himself appointed by the Emperor to escort an imperial messenger who was to go to Edo to demand that
the Shogun come to Kyoto for consultations.
August 1862 Tosa troops, escorting Yamanouchi Yodo, the Daimyo of Tosa, to Edo, arrive in Kyoto
under the leadership of Takechi Hanpeita. Takechi, through imperial cohorts and colleagues, had
arranged for an imperial decree demanding that Yamanouchi stop in Kyoto on his way to Edo. After
arriving, Takechi arranges for another imperial decree that demands that the Daimyo remain in Kyoto,
thus making it impossible for him to continue to Edo and fulfill his responsibilities under Sankin
August 1862 The Shogun succumbs to the military might shown by Shimazu Hisamitsu and agrees to go
to Kyoto as summoned by the Emperor! On Shimazu's return to Kyoto, four British cross paths with his
entourage in the town of Namamugi, a small town outside of Yokohama. Not getting out of the way of
the entourage one of them (C.L. Richardson) is killed by a Shimazu retainer. Others are injured, but
escape. Upon his return to Kyoto, Shimazu finds that he has lost his influence with the imperial
court to the more radical Choshu.
October, 1862 The sankin kotai system is rescinded - almost assuredly dooming the Bakufu to
1863 Fukuzawa Yukichi founds a college based on western principles and subjects. The college
will, at a later date, become Keio University.
March, 1863 Iemochi goes to Kyoto - the first Shogun to do so in two centuries. He agrees to
court demands that all foreigners be expelled from the country and all ports would be closed on July
24. When Bakufu representatives passed this on to foreign representatives in Edo, the
representatives were given oral assurances that the Bakufu would not enforce it.
April 1863 Britain demands compensation for the murder of C.L. Richardson the previous summer and
told that Japan will be attacked by warships if they don't pay. Britain demands: a) a public
apology, b) 100,000 pounds payable by the Bakufu to London, c) 25,000 pounds payable by Satsuma to
the family of Richardson and the same to each of the other three British attacked at the same time,
and d) the arrest and execution of the assassins.
June 1863 The Bakufu pays the 100,000 pounds demanded by the British for Satsuma's killing of
C.L. Richardson. Satsuma, however, refuses to pay, saying that it was Edo's fault for not warning
the British that the entourage would be passing that day. (To prevent these problems, normal
procedure was for Edo to inform foreign legations when a Daimyo entourage was scheduled to travel
the Tokaido. Foreigners would then plan to stay away on those days. For some reason, the British,
and hence Richardson, had not been informed of Hisamitsu's travels and that is why they happened to
July 24, 1863 American warship bombards and destroys 2 Choshu warships and coastal batteries
after being attacked in the Shimonoseki Straights between Honshu and Kyushu. This being the day that
the Emperor had said all foreigners would be driven from the country, Choshu loyalists took it upon
themselves to begin the process.
July 1863 Choshu loyalists attack (but fail to damage and sink) British, French, and Dutch ships
passing through the Shimonoseki Straights. The French retaliate, even landing and destroying the
costal batteries and one of the villages around them. However, Choshu manages to keep the Straits
closed for more than a year.
July 1863 British warships go to Kagoshima to demand that Satsuma pay the required compensation
for the assassination of C.L. Richardson outside of Edo in 1862. When Satsuma officials refuse, the
British seize several steamers that Satsuma had recently purchased from traders in Nagasaki. Satsuma
retaliates and the British attack and destroy Kagoshima. (After later negotiations in Edo, Satsuma
agrees to pay the indemnities and the two sides become allies.)
Summer 1863 British legation in Edo attacked and burned down by Choshu loyalists.
August 1863 Choshu loyalists are driven out of the imperial court in Kyoto by supporters of the
Bakufu - including Tokugawa, Aizu, Tosa, and Satsuma troops. Choshu and Tosa loyalists return to
their respective han, and Choshu is branded as an Enemy of the Throne.
September 1863 Thinking they have regained the upper hand with the loyalists, the Bakufu tries to
restate the sankin kotai system but the order is ignored by all Daimyo.
1864-1865 Genji Era.
Early 1864 The Shogun returns to Kyoto, conceding even more to the Emperor. Included this time is
agreement that henceforth Daimyos succeeding to power in their han will receive investiture from the
Emperor and not the Shogun. He also agreed to accept the Daimyo of Satsuma, Tosa, Echizen, and Aizu
July 1864 Tokugawa and Bakufu supporters attack and defeat Choshu loyalists as they attempt to
retake power in Kyoto. Bakufu forces win, but not easily.
September, 1864 British, French, Dutch, and US ships attack and destroy Choshu batteries along
the coast of the Shimonoseki Straits for their continued firing on western ships. This opens the
Straits for the first time in over a year. (The foreigners had secret Bakufu support - the Bakufu
loaned maps of the area to the French). Conservatives gain power in Choshu and, like Satsuma, signs
a peace treaty with Britain.
November 1864 The Bakufu masses over 100,000 troops (financed by the French and led by Saigo
Takamori of Satsuma) along the borders of Choshu in preparation for a final attack and defeat. Saigo
convinces Choshu conservative leaders to accept Bakufu demands and when they capitulate the conflict
is avoided. However, Choshu loyalists, angered at the capitulation, attack Choshu government offices
1865-1868 Keio Era.
1865 A Catholic Church is reestablished in Nagasaki. In time about 20,000 Japanese who had been
"hidden" Christians" come out and admit that they had secretly kept the faith.
February 1865 Choshu loyalists (led by Takatsuki Shinseki and Caesura Koori) retake control of
May 1865 The Shogun goes to Kyoto to organize another military expedition against Choshu Han.
Summer 1865 Satsuma leaders secretly assist Choshu to buy weapons from foreign arms traders in
Nagasaki as Choshu prepares for the upcoming invasion by Tokugawa led forces.
Enter Tom Cruise as the representative of the arms dealers and so starts the plot of the movie "The
September 1865 Nine foreign warships (5 British, 3 French, 1 Dutch) steam into Osaka harbor and
demand that the Bakufu pay (by the end of 1866) compensation for Choshu attacks on their warships in
Shimonoseki Straits. The Bakufu is told that the amount demanded will be reduced if the ports of
Osaka and Kobe are opened to foreign traders and if the Bakufu obtains Imperial sanction of all
previously signed commercial treaties.
October 1865 Imperial ratification is granted for all treaties with foreign powers and for
opening the country to foreign trading, in particular the ports of Kobe and Osaka. (While the
Emperor ratifies the agreement in public to appease foreign demands, he privately tells the Bakufu
not to actually open the ports close to Kyoto.)
January 1866 Choshu and Satsuma enter into a secret agreement of mutual support - with Satsuma
promising not to participate in the attack on Choshu that the Bakufu was in the process of planning.
Satsuma also agrees to assist Choshu in buying weapons through foreign traders in Nagasaki. (The
agreement is negotiated by Okubo Toshimichi and Saigo Takamori on the Satsuma side and Kido Koin on
the Choshu side)
January 1866 The Bakufu convinces the Emperor to issue and edict calling for the Daimyo of Choshu
to retire, for lands to be surrendered to the Bakufu, and for a reduction in income to the Daimyo.
Choshu blatantly ignores the edict.
June 1866 A second Bakufu military expedition is launched against Choshu. But, with Satsuma not
involved, and the modern arms Choshu had purchased from abroad, this time the Tokugawa forces are
15. Tokugawa Yoshinobu (1866 -1868) The Last Shogun
August 17, 1866 Iemochi dies in Osaka. Yoshinobu is urged by the Bakufu to become the next
Shogun. He changes his name from Hitsubashi Keiki to Tokugawa and accepts the title of Head of the
House of Tokugawa, but refuses to accept the position of Shogun.
1867 The government once again cracks down on the growing Christian movement and arrests many of
its leading members.
January 1867 Yoshinobu succumbs to pressure and becomes the 15th, and last, Shogun. He accepts
the post reluctantly, but once in office attempts to reform the Bakufu under French guidance. (Note
that the British are supporting Choshu and Satsuma).
February 3, 1867 Death of Emperor Komei. Enthronement of Mastsuhito (Meiji) at age fifteen.
(This is a blessing to the loyalists. While Komei wanted to take power back from the Bakufu, he
was an avid supporter of the Bakufu because he believed that only they could keep the foreigners out
of the country. However, Matsuhito's guardian, and grandfather, supported the loyalist cause
May 1867 With continued demands from foreigners, the Bakufu convinces the Emperor to sanction the
opening of the port of Kobe. In the meantime, Satsuma and Choshu begin the process of convincing the
Emperor to issue two decrees: one pardoning Choshu and withdrawing an earlier decree branding them
as enemies of the throne, and another calling for an army led by Satsuma and Choshu to overthrow the
June 1867 Yoshinobu goes to Nijo palace in Kyoto to meet with the Daimyos of Satsuma (Shimazu),
Tosa (Yamanouchi), Echizen (Shungaku), and Uwajima (Date) to discuss the current political
situation. The meeting immediately falls apart when Tosa leaves upon suspecting that Satsuma and
Choshu are imminently close to declaring war on the Bakufu and attacking. (While Tosa is rapidly
being pulled into the loyalist camp and is very near to officially and openly joining the
Satsuma-Choshu alliance against the Bakufu, the Daimyo of Tosa still officially supports the Bakufu
because Tokugawa had made his ancestors the Daimyo in Tosa.)
July 1867 Two British sailors are killed in Nagasaki and Tosa Samurai are suspected. Although
tempers on all sides flare, a lengthy investigation later proves that it was a Samurai from Fukuoka.
(This could have been important because it could have given the British a reason to attack Tosa, and
this would have weakened them in the now looming battle with the Bakufu.)
September 1867 Satsuma begins amassing troops in and around Kyoto while Choshu, and other
supporting Hans, begin the same in their own territories.
October 1867 Tosa representatives present a petition to the Bakufu. Under the political
compromise (known as the Tosa Memorial), the Shogun's political authority will be returned to the
Emperor while the head of the Tokugawa house (Yoshinobu) retains Tokugawa lands and continues to
serve as Prime Minister.
November 8, 1867 Realizing that he has no alternative (Satsuma and Choshu have now obtained an
imperial decree pardoning Choshu and calling for the ouster of the Tokugawa Bakufu), Yoshinobu, from
his offices in Nijo palace in Kyoto, resigns as Shogun.
January 3, 1868 The Meiji Restoration Forces from Satsuma, Echizen, Owari, Tosa, & Aki do
not accept the Tosa Memorial and seize the Nijo palace. The Emperor is induced to abolish the
Shogunate and Tokugawa is reduced to the level of Daimyo. Administration of the country is returned
to the Emperor with a provisional government formed by representatives of Satsuma, Tosa, Aki, Owari,
and Echizen - but no Tokugawa. The provisional government consists of a Supreme Controller and
Junior and Senior Councils of State.
End of the Shogun Dynasty
January 25, 1868 Yoshinobu accepts the Meiji Restoration and withdraws his troops to Osaka.
January 30, 1868 (The battle of Toba-Fushimi) Tokugawa forces attempt to retake Kyoto but are
defeated by Satsuma, Choshu, & Tosa forces.
The ending battle scene in "The Last Samurai."
Northern Tokugawa forces hold out longer, and the Tokugawa navy holds out in Hokkaido until 1869,
but this battle effectively ends Tokugawa rule