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Unit 4: Nationalism, Industrialism, and Imperialism

Lesson E: Modern Japan in a Western World

Activity 1: Japan Prior to Western Contact

First Tokugawa Shogun First Tokugawa Shogun

First Tokugawa Shogun [1]

Beginning in the 17th century, the political system of Japan changed dramatically. The emperor lost his power to a series of shoguns who held the real power in Japan. Regional lords known as daimyos ruled local governments and the samurai served as elite warriors. This period of time when the Japanese emperor lost most of his power is called either the Edo Period or the Tokugawa Shogunate. This time was a period of peace and stability within Japan. Japan followed a policy of isolationism, but this stability and isolation ended with the arrival of U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew Perry and the opening up of Japan.

In this activity, you will work with a partner to review major aspects of Japan prior to the forced opening of Japan by the West. You will consider the acronym PERSIA to guide your thinking. Before you begin, review the PERSIA chart below to frame your thinking about the different parts of civilizations.

Political What type of government system did a civilization have?
Who could participate in government decisions?
What individual rights did people have?
Economic How did people make their daily living?
What types of industries and trade did civilizations participate in?
Religion What were the basic beliefs and practices of people in past civilizations?
How did religion impact people's daily lives?
What role did religion play in the government?
Social How were different social groups treated in a civilization (women, slaves, etc.)?
How difficult was it for people to move from one social group to another?
How did people interact with each other?
What types of social activities were common?
Intellectual What types of inventions and intellectual discoveries did civilizations invent or use?
What type of medical care did civilizations have?
Artistic What types of art and architecture did civilizations develop?
What types of literature and music did civilizations have?


image of classroom blackboard with world history written on it

Classroom Activity - Japan Prior to Western Interference

Discussion Icon Discussion

Directions: In order to consider what Japan was like prior to the forced opening of Japan, work with a partner to complete the Student Resource: Japan Organization Chart. Be prepared to share your completed chart with your class. Save your completed chart, as you will use it again in another activity.

Download Icon Download the Student Resource: Japan Organization Chart. (doc)


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Page Notes:

[1] Source: This image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tokugawa_Ieyasu2.JPG is in the public domain because its copyright has expired