BOOKS / 出版物

Pax Tokugawana

Pax Tokugawana

The Cultural Flowering of Japan, 1603–1853

Haga Tōru
Translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter

Published Titles / History


Published by JPIC | ISBN 978-4-86658-148-4 (Hardcover) | 372 pages | 210mm (h) x 148mm (w) | March 2021

About the Book

Some people view Tokugawa Japan through the “exotic Edo” lens. Others see the era as Japan’s dark ages. And those who reject both of these extremes tend to think of it as simply the run-up to Japan’s modernization.

Yet it would be more accurate to see it as a vast flowering of culture spearheaded by the Rinpa school of art led and developed by Tawaraya Sōtatsu and Ogata Kōrin; the exquisite poetry of Matsuo Bashō and Yosa Buson; the groundbreaking natural science treatises by Kaibara Ekiken and others; Arai Hakuseki’s Seiyō kibun [Tidings of the West] and Sugita Genpaku’s Rangaku kotohajime [The Dawn of Western Science in Japan]; and by such towering figures as Watanabe Kazan and Hiraga Gennai. All told, the Tokugawa period was arguably the high-water mark of Japan’s long cultural traditions.

This ambitious work provides a comprehensive review of the distinctive culture that emerged in the limited space of the Tokugawa period’s 250 years and the narrow confines of Japan. As such, it stands at the forefront of comparative cultural studies and points the way to new insights. This definitive volume is the culmination of a lifetime of work by a scholar whose research on the Tokugawa era has been recognized with awards from, inter alia, the Japan Art Academy and the Japan Academy.

About the Author


Born in Tokyo, HAGA Tōru (19312020) graduated from the University of Tokyo College of Arts and Sciences before going on to do his doctoral studies in comparative literature at the Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology and Faculty of Letters. His doctorate of literature is from the University of Tokyo. He has been a University of Tokyo College of Arts and Sciences professor, Princeton University Visiting Researcher, International Research Center for Japanese Studies professor, Kyoto University of the Arts president, director at the Okazaki Mindscape Museum and the Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art. He was also professor emeritus at International Research Center for Japanese Studies and the University of Tokyo. He passed away on February 20, 2020.

Among his many publications are Taikun no shisetsu [The Shogun’s Emissaries]; Watanabe Kazan, yasashii tabibito [Watanabe Kazan, Gentle Traveler]; Meiji ishin to Nihonjin [The Meiji Restoration and the Japanese]; Midare-gami no keifu [An Appreciation of Midare-gami]; Hiraga Gennai [Hiraga Gennai] (winner of the 1981 Suntory Prize for Social Sciences and Humanities); Kaiga no ryōbun: Kindainihon hikaku bunka-shi kenkyū [The Domain of Paintings: A Comparative Cultural History of Modern Japan] (winner of the 1984 Osaragi Jirō Award); Yosa Buson no chiisa na sekai [The Little World of Yosa Buson]; Shi no kuni, shijin no kuni [Land of Songs, Land of Bards]; Shiika no mori e: Nihonshi e no izanai [A Woodland of Song: An Invitation to Japanese Poetry] and Gei-jutsu no kuni Nihon: Gabun kōkyō [Artful Japan: The Harmony of Text and Images] (winner of the 2011 Ren’nyo Award).

NB: Title translations are for information purposes only, as none of these works have been published under an English title


"Pax Tokugawana will fascinate anyone interested in the history of art or science in Asia. The very effective translation captures the voice of the mind of one of the world’s most eminent scholars of Japanese cultural history. The length of the chapters and the at times humorous tone makes it a manageable yet thoroughly educational read."

Fiona Collins, June 4, 2021

Asian Review of Books




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