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Mentone Girls' Grammar School | Kerferd Library

Japan under the Shôguns: Overview

Year 8 History: Middle Ages and early exploration | Japan under the Shoguns (c.794 – 1867)

The Tokugawa Shoguns (Tokugawa-ke godaiki). Source: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2020).

Level 1 resource"The third shôgun, Tokugawa Iemitsu,... enforced isolation from much of the rest of the world in the seventeenth century, believing that influences from abroad (meaning trade, Christianity, and guns) could shift the balance that existed between the shôgun and the feudal lords. He was proven right two centuries later, when change came in the form of Perry's ships." (Asia for Educators, Columbia University, 2009)

Referencing Notice Don't forget to cite and reference your sources. For help see the Junior School or Senior School referencing guides, and / or CiteMaker.
Resource Key

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Brief, basic information laid out in an easy-to-read format. May use informal language. (Includes most news articles)


Provides additional background information and further reading. Introduces some subject-specific language.

Level 3 resourceLEVEL

Lengthy, detailed information. Frequently uses technical/subject-specific language. (Includes most analytical articles)

General Capabilities

Replace the following with the Victorian Curriculum General Capabilities from teacher's documentation on Rubicon Atlas.

Enduring Understandings

Students will form some understanding of Japanese history and culture. They will come to understand the implications of contact between cultures and the threat caused to non-European cultures of European imperialism.

Essential Questions
  • What was Japanese society like before and during the reign of the shoguns?
  • What led to the rise of the Shoguns?
  • How did Japan change under the rule of the shoguns?

Japan under the Shoguns | Overview: Keywords

Level 1Keywords
Click on the terms to access a simple definition from The JLearn online dictionary provides a simple definition in English as well as the word in Kanji and Kana. You can also listen to how the word is pronounced.

Bakufu 幕府, Daimyō 大名, Kuge 公家, Bushi [Samurai] 武士, Sakoku 鎖国, Shôgun 将軍, teiou / Tennō 帝王 [Emperor]

Japan under the Shoguns | Overview: Introduction

Level 1"In 1185, Japan began to be governed by warriors or samurai. Until this time the government had been bureaucratic in theory, but was actually aristocratic (i.e., people held certain positions because they were born to families entitled to hold those jobs). Even after 1185, civil government at the Emperors court continued and the law and the state were not changed, but a new samurai class came to power and increasingly became the real rulers of the country. Some form of military leadership remained the form of government in Japan until 1868, when a centralised bureaucratic government came into being with the Meiji Restoration." (Asia for Educators, Columbia University, 2009)

Japan under the Shoguns | Overview: Articles

Level 1Article

Level 2

Japan under the Shoguns | Overview: eBooks

Level 1 resourceTo view the eBooks off campus follow the link. If prompted, sign in with your School mConnect user name and password.

Japan under the Shoguns | Overview: Online resources

Level 2 resourceWeb sites

documents with questions

These documents and questions have been made available for "students and educators at all levels" by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University, New York, USA.

Japan under the Shoguns | Overview: Videos

Level 2 resourceFilm and videoUsing YouTube on campus help and instructionsTo view this video on campus remember to first login to your school Google account using your mConnect username and password. Click here for more help on using YouTube on campus.

An overview of the Japanese Medieval period in which Shoguns ruled under the bakufu (shogunate) feudal system. Discussion of daimyo during the Kamakura and Muromachi/Ashikaga periods. Samurai and bushido. (Khan Academy, 2017)


When using this video don't forget to cite and reference your sources. For more information and help see the Kerferd Library referencing guide and / or CiteMaker.
In text reference / citation: Khan Academy (2017) or (Khan Academy, 2017)
Bibliography / Reference list: Khan Academy (2017). Shoguns, samurai and the Japanese Middle Ages | World History | Khan Academy, [eVideo]. Retrieved from

"For over 200 years, Japan prospered as a feudal society under the authoritarian rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The Emperors of Japan still held influence as divine heads of state, but physical power was in the hands of the Shoguns - the military rulers of the country. At the beginning of their reign, the Shoguns had imposed the policy of sakoku, or closed country, which, under the penalty of death, prohibited foreigners from visiting Japan and any Japanese from leaving the country. Having done so, the indigenous Japanese culture flourished, untouched by foreign influence. However, the 19th century would be the theatre of events that would force the Land of the Rising Sun to either modernise or perish into history." (CaspianReport, 2019)


When using this video don't forget to cite and reference your sources. For more information and help see the Kerferd Library referencing guide and / or CiteMaker.
In text reference / citation: CaspianReport (2019) or (CaspianReport, 2019)
Bibliography / Reference list: CaspianReport (2019). The Era of Modernization in Japan, [eVideo]. Retrieved from

Japan under the Shoguns | Overview: Curriculum alignment

Level 1Victorian CurriculumThis Mentone Girls' Grammar School LibGuide supports the following Victorian curriculum outcomes. Click on the links to explore more.

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