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BasIJ

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Hey all,
From april 17th to may 15th 2015, I'll be travelling in Japan. The primary reason for this journey is a research I'm doing for school. This research is about how the modern Japanese culture is a reflection of the culture in the Tokugawa period. In order to get some weeks off from school for this, I need to hand over a document with therein all the things I'll be doing in Japan, and how that is relevant for my research. So I'm looking for some fun places to go, but I'm having a bit of a hard time finding anything relevant. So, my question is: Does anyone know some places on Honshu with a strong connection to the Tokugawa period, or places where the modern culture is present.
And by the way, if some of you guys know some people with extensive knowledge of this period in Japanese history, I'd love to get in touch.
Thanks for the help!
 

thomas

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Hi, and welcome to the forum!

Was this topic assigned to you? Is this for middle school, college or university? It appears to be quite general in scope, as past historical periods always influence contemporary societies. And what kind of impact are you focusing on in particular? Political, social, economical, cultural, all of them?

Also, I'm not sure what you mean by fun places, as your journey will be primarily devoted to research.

Since you posted this to the Travel section I believe you are looking for localities in Japan where the Tokugawa heritage still plays a significant role: Tokyo, Nikko, Mito, Nagoya, Shizuoka, and many others come to mind.

Assuming you are residing in the Netherlands, there should be plenty of first-hand historical material available, given the fact that the Dutch were the only Western nation allowed to have a presence in Japan during the Tokugawa period.

Good luck in your preparations, and high time to immerse yourself a bit in Japanese history.
 

BasIJ

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Hi!

Thanks for answering! I had to choose the subject myself, and it's for an honours programme I'm doing in high school. I'm focusing especially on the cultural impact this period has on the modern day culture. I'm also very interested in how the way of thinking has changed since then. So I'm also planning to speak with a lot of people when I'm there.
With fun places I mean places that are interesting for my research and have a relevance to the tokugawa period. Not only cities, but also locations in these cities to go to.
I've been going to some expositions and museum on Japanese history, and still planning on to do a lot more research here in the Netherlands.

If you could help me find some locations to go to, I'd really appreciate it!
 
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Hello BasIJ,

Its a bit of a difficult subject: for example, I was born in the US, but I would have a difficult time discussing cultural traits of 17th century America that are reflected in modern America. I can find things about 17th century America that continue to resonate today (political thought, literature, economic issues, etc..., but it seems the word "culture" is too broad to be useful in your case.

You could look at specific things: for example art of the Tokugawa period, and its influence on art today. For this you could visit the Ota Ukiyoe museum in Harajuku (Tokyo), and compare the art of the 19th century with manga/anime of modern times. http://www.ukiyoe-ota-muse.jp/annai-E.html

You could look at architecture of the Edo period and contrast it with Japanese architecture of today. Nijo castle in Kyoto is one of many Tokugawa-era buildings in that city. And Nikko shrine in Tochigi, as Thomas said above, is also an Edo-period complex of buildings.

You could visit Nagasaki and Hirado and the theme park Huistenbosch (all of these are in the island of Kyushu) to understand Japan's relations to the west, and how the Japanese tried to confine western influence, and contrast that with today's attitudes.

Or, another thing might be looking at Kabuki, which is an Edo-era development. There is a big Kabuki theater in Tokyo, and a smallish one in Kyoto.

Or you could go the exact opposite direction and visit a rural farm and contrast farm life, farm practices of pre-modern Japan with that of today, and look at how those practices influenced people's lives and communities, and look at whether or not those practices continue to have influence today. In this case, any farm district in Japan will do (and there are farms all over Japan).

Hopefully that gives some ideas.
 
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Tokugawa period was 1603 to 1868, according to Wikipedia. That's like asking someone in the U.S. to see what influences there are of Pilgrims, settlers, pioneers, covered wagons, gold rush miners, railroad workers with slave labor, and general slavery still left behind.

You have time. Plan what exactly it is you hope to look for. Offhand, I'd say you won't see as much as you'd like, and that it's going to be more customs and traditions than sights. Tough call.
Does anyone know some places on Honshu with a strong connection to the Tokugawa period, or places where the modern culture is present.
The red part of your question makes no sense to me. This is 2014. What do you expect to find in Japan that isn't modern? We have indoor plumbing, electricity, skyscrapers, subways, electronics industry, pop music, international cuisine, zoos, museums, refrigerated foods, etc.

I also would urge you to look farther than just Honshu. You have a month, after all.

I suggest you focus on big things like footwear customs and clothing worn at shrines/temples, government, economy, etc.

Wikipedia says, "The individual had no legal rights in Tokugawa Japan. The family was the smallest legal entity, and the maintenance of family status and privileges was of great importance at all levels of society. " Not sure how you could examine that, but it's definitely something that has stayed with Japan. It even expanded to more of a sense of community, not just family. Perhaps the morning radio taiso or existence of sentos would be something along those lines?

It also says, "Economic development during the Tokugawa period included urbanization, increased shipping of commodities, a significant expansion of domestic and, initially, foreign commerce, and a diffusion of trade and handicraft industries. " Seek out Yokohama harbor. Look at the stock market. Take pictures of foreign products in supermarkets and on the streets (McDonalds, Fords, Coca-cola!).
 
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