chapter  2
18 Pages

The mid-century crisis

The tensions created by the gap between the real and ideal discussed in Chapter 1 were already reaching crisis level in the late 1830s, more than a decade before Commodore Perry’s dramatic entry into Edo Bay threw the authorities into further turmoil. The Tempō crisis, referring to the name of the era from 1830 to 1843, may in fact encapsulate the cumulative problems facing the Tokugawa regime, and the failure of its response to the crisis in the form of the Tempō reforms is often seen as a background factor to the regime’s collapse some twenty-fi ve years later. This chapter will therefore begin with a close description and analysis of the internal crisis, and the responses of various individuals and groups in society.