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its influence and inspira­ han favoured the development of

tion during the Tokugawa period when it was reduced to the function of registering the people according to temple-parishes and performing funerals. The unruly monks of Mount Hiei had lost all actual power. Yet Buddhism inspired much of the arts with its elaborate rituals, and flowery ornaments. Buddhist monks

The Three Cities, as they were called, thus represented three different aspects of Tokugawa Japan's homogeneity. Due to the sheer importance as consumer centre and seat of political power, Edo absorbed over time part of the importance of the other two : Edo culture began to flourish with its lighter arts of the 'floating world,' and Edo merchants evolved from the initial 'Omi robbers and Ise beggars' into formidable rivals to the old entrenched Osaka houses with long traditions. This process, however, strengthened further the uniformity and family character of feudal Japan.