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Merchants in Edo

Mt. Fuji towers over Edo

Mt. Fuji towers over Edo streetlife.

After becoming supreme ruler in the late 16th century, Tokugawa Ieyasu moved Japan's capitol to Edo, (now known as Tokyo) transforming the sleepy fishing village into the country's premier political and economic center. Ieyasu and his heirs forced the country's daimyo lords to finance the expansion of Edo, and to live in the city during part of every other year. The new construction of the city and the vast number of samurai in need of goods and pleasurable pursuits lured merchants, craftsmen and entertainers from all over Japan, and by the 17th century, the population had surpassed a million, making Edo one of the largest cities in the world.

For almost three hundred years, Japan's shoguns maintained domestic peace while they isolated the country from Western influence. In Edo, a diverse population flourished amidst a cultural and economic renaissance. Meet the people of Edo!

Top: Edo marketplace/Mitsui Bunko.
Left: Edo streetlife/Mitsui Bunko

woodlbock print

Learn how these distinctive prints are created


Hear the distinctive sounds of Edo culture

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