Ieyohsi became shogun in 1837 and was the 12th of the Tokugawa shoguns. He is most remembered as the shogun who instigated the Tenpo Reforms. The Tenpo Reforms were a series of government reforms introduced in 1842 aimed at strengthening the shogunate through the repression of ideas which were believed to be subversive or would bring about social disorder. Included in these reforms was a ban on the representation of kabuki actors, geisha and courtesans as these professions ‘represented a luxury which society could not afford’. During this period many political figures and artists were arrested for ‘breaking’ the rules.
Rangaku (Dutch learning) was also banned. Prohibitions were introduced across much of society including those that affected festivities, fireworks, luxury goods, home decoration, rare birds and flowers. Tokugawa Ieyoshi was shogun in 1853 when Commodore Matthew Perry of the United States Navy sailed into Edo Bay and demanded that Japan open herself to foreign trade. At this critical moment in Japanese history, Ieyoshi became ill and died shortly there-after.
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