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Tokugawa Shogunate

During the late Middle Ages, Japan suffered through a long period of internal wars. Japan was dividedinto many kingdoms; warlords lived in fortresses, and they employed mounted samurai warriors. It looked a lot like the feudal system of the middle ages in Europe. Endless warfare and pillaging made life miserable for Japanese peasants. Then in the mid-1500s, something happened to change all this: Portuguese traders showed up in Japan selling firearms. With the help of guns, a series of three warlords succeeded in conquering and unifying Japan. The last of these warlords, Tokugawa, became Japan’s shogun, or military ruler, in 1603. The shogunateadopted a Japanese version of Confucianism, and it improved education in Japan.

Japan = an island nation off the coast of East Asia. Its capital city is Tokyo.

shogun = a military ruler in feudal Japan who held more actual power than the emperor.

Concerned about the intentions and the influence of Europeans, the Tokugawa Shogunate adopted a policy of near total isolation from the West. Japan expelled Christian missionaries, burned Western books, and allowed only the Chinese and Dutch to trade with Japan at just one port. The southern port city of Nagasaki became Japan’s only window on the outside world.

Tokugawa Shogunate = the period during which the Tokugawa family ruled Japan.

isolation = the state of being in a place or situation that is separate from others.

Nagasaki = a city of western Kyushu, Japan; the first Japanese port to be opened to foreign trade in the 1500s, Nagasaki was devastated by the second atomic bomb used in World War II.