After a ‘great transformation’ in the seventeenth century,1 and before the busy ‘transition’ of the nineteenth century,2 eighteenth-century Japanese society has been seen as relatively quiet, static and sleepy in every component. There were almost no international and domestic events that shook Japan nationwide and although the isolationist policy of Japan was enforced in the 1630s, this did not mean closing the door entirely to other countries. Japan even enjoyed its own world order in its relations with the kingdoms of Korea and Ryukyu, and saw merchants travel to her shores from China and the Netherlands.3 This world order was very small compared to that of the Chinese, but it served to keep Japan independent, particularly by restricting relations to a minimum with its giant neighbour, China. Under this international security policy in the eighteenth century, the Tokugawa government was able to concentrate its energy on establishing a firm administration. The essential characteristic of this era was its observation of a status quo policy, as the government had suc­ ceeded in keeping Japan peaceful without any major disturbances. However, during this period several developments occurred which affected Japan’s industrialization and established the conditions for modern economic growth.