Japan: Memoirs of a Secret EmpireEnter EdoTravel TokaidoTimelineResourcesThe Program
Episode One: The Way of the SamuraiEpisode Two: The Will of the ShogunEpisode Three: The Return of the BarbariansThe FilmmakersProgram SupportersStations and Showtimes

By 1690, Japan is a nation completely isolated from the western world, and a time of cultural flowering and intellectual pursuit ensues. Shogun Tsunayoshi introduces his Laws of Compassion protecting the poor and preventing the abuse of animals. By the 18th century, Edo has become the largest and one of the liveliest cities in the world, attracting samurai, geisha, courtesans, merchants, writers and actors. The classes begin to mix, and culture and commerce flourish.

However, conflicts simmer beneath the surface of Edo society. As ruling daimyo warlords and their samurai armies grow restless, interest in Western science increases, complicating the policy of isolation.

In 1853, Commodore Mathew C. Perry and his squadron of black ships sail into Edo Bay, and demand that Japan negotiate and trade with the United States. Japan is in a precarious position and the government faces the difficult choice of war or negotiation. Realizing they are powerless to repel American might, the Japanese negotiate treaties with the West. Ten years later, the samurai class is disbanded and the Tokugawa Shogunate ends. The modern era of Japan has begun.

Top: Caligrapher/Bato-machi Hiroshige Museum

Episode One: The Way of the Samurai
56k | 200k
Episode Two: The Will of the Shogun
56k | 200k
Episode Three: The Return of the Barbarians
56k | 200k

(Click 56K for modem access or 200K for cable/T1/DSL connections. Requires installation of the Real Player)

Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire premieres May 26, 2004. Check local listings.

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