He then tried, but failed, to control Korea. After his death, another ambitious warrior, the daimyo Tokugawa Ieyasu (toh koo gah wah ee AY ah soo) defeated his rivals to become master of Japan.
In 1603, Tokugawa was named shogun. The Tokugawa shogunate would last until 1868. The Tokugawa shoguns were determined to end feudal warfare. To do so, they kept the outward forms of feudal society, but imposed central government control on all of Japan. For this reason, their system of government is called centralized feudalism.
The Tokugawas created a unified, orderly society. To control the daimyo, they required these great lords to live in the shogun's capital at Edo (present-day Tokyo) every other year. A daimyo's wife and children had to remain in Edo full time, giving the shogun a powerful check on the entire family. The shogun also forbade daimyo to repair their castles or marry without permission.
Edo, now called Tokyo, was once a small fishing village. This changed when Shogun Tokugawa built his castles in Edo and created the new capital, with the Imperial Palace at its center.
New laws fixed the old social order rigidly in place and upheld a strict moral code. Only samurai were allowed to serve in the military or hold government jobs.
They were expected to follow the traditions of bushido. Peasants had to remain on the land. People in lower classes were forbidden to wear luxuries such as silk clothing.
While the shoguns tried to hold back social change, the Japanese economy grew by leaps and bounds. With peace restored to the countryside, agriculture improved and expanded. New seeds, tools, and the use of fertilizer led to a greater output of crops.
Food surpluses supported rapid population growth. Towns sprang up on the lands around the castles of daimyo. Edo grew into a booming city, where artisans and merchants flocked to supply the needs of the daimyo and their families.
Shogun Tokugawa built the largest castle in the world, with fireproof warehouses to keep his coins and rice stores safe.
Trade flourished within Japan. New roads linked castle towns and Edo. Each year, daimyo and their servants traveled to and from the capital, creating a demand for food and services along the route. In the cities, a wealthy merchant class emerged. Despite their low social status under Confucian traditions, merchants gained influence by lending money to daimyo and samurai. Some merchants further improved their social position by marrying their daughters into the samurai class.