Episode 525 – A Day in the Life of Tokugawa Japan

This week on the Revised Introduction to Japanese History: what was life in the Edo period like? We cover everything from food to school to entertainment as we talk through daily life in Tokugawa-ruled Japan.


Nishiyama, Matsunosuke. Edo Culture: Daily Life and Diversions in Urban Japan, 1600-1868. trans. Gerald Groemer.

Nakai, Nobuhiko, “Commercial Change and Urban Growth in Early Modern Japan” and Shively, Donald H. “Popular Culture” in The Cambridge History of Japan: Vol IV: Early Modern Japan

Teeuwen, Mark, and Kate Wildman Nakai, eds. Lust, Commerce, and Corruption: An Account of What I have Seen and Heard

Craig, Teruko, trans. Musui’s Story: The Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai


A map of the Yoshiwara pleasure district in 1846. You can see much the same layout if you look at the place today. The walls were intended to both contain the sex trade (not very successful) and allow the government to regulate and make money off it (more successful).


An Edo kabuki performance in the Kabukiza theater. Note the actor moving up the hanamichi on the left side. This should give you an idea of how close kabuki actors got to their audiences.
Contemporary depiction of a terakoya school by Hanasato Isshun