Cover: Government by Mourning: Death and Political Integration in Japan, 1603-1912, from Harvard University PressCover: Government by Mourning in HARDCOVER

Harvard East Asian Monographs 347

Government by Mourning

Death and Political Integration in Japan, 1603-1912

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Product Details


$49.95 • £39.95 • €45.00

ISBN 9780674066823

Publication: August 2014


464 pages

6 x 9 inches

15 black and white photos; 3 maps; 13 tables

Harvard University Asia Center > Harvard East Asian Monographs

World, subsidiary rights restricted

From the early seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century, the Tokugawa shogunate enacted and enforced myriad laws and ordinances to control nearly every aspect of Japanese life, including observance of a person’s death. In particular, the shoguns Tsunayoshi and Yoshimune issued strict decrees on mourning and abstention that dictated compliance throughout the land and survived the political upheaval of the Meiji Restoration to persist well into the twentieth century.

Atsuko Hirai reveals the pivotal relationship between these shogunal edicts and the legitimacy of Tokugawa rule. By highlighting the role of narimono chojirei (injunctions against playing musical instruments) within their broader context, she shows how this class of legislation played an important integrative part in Japanese society not only through its comprehensive implementation, especially for national mourning of major political figures, but also by its codification of the religious beliefs and customs that the Japanese people had cherished for innumerable generations.