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Japan Book Club: The Old Man Mad About Drawing – Part 1

September 27, 2011

We’re really excited to be starting a new book this week.  For the next month or so, we’ll be reading The Old Man Mad About Drawing by Francois Place.  What we really love about this book is that it’s a book about a man who draws, written by a man who draws.  Until this book came out, Francois Place was actually better known as an illustrator.

The book takes place in the city of Edo, which was what Tokyo was called way back in the day.  So, to help you understand the book a little more, we’re asking you to do a little research about Edo.  For this week, read the first four chapters of Old Man and pay careful attention to the people and places you see and read about in the city.  Then, using what ever resources you want to, find out more about Edo.  

You actual assignment this week is to post five interesting facts about Edo.  Be careful not to repeat what other students have already put.  Be sure to type out your answers in complete sentences.  Be sure to back up your ideas with some examples, evidence, or proof.  Be sure to check back and see what other people say too.  Be sure to comment on what they say.

Every student in our Japan group is required to participate.  You must comment on this post with your thoughts, then come back and comment on what other people have said – you are required to make an effort to keep the conversation going by replying to at least 2 other students (more than just “I agree” or “you are right.” Give them reasons why you agree/disagree or what they said that was meaningful – make this a discussion). 

Next, we’ll be reading Bushido: The Soul of Japan a story about the samurai by Inazo Nitobe – you can look for a copy if you want, but I will be sending everyone a free ebook copy of Bushido when we get to it.    We’ll start that in about four-five weeks.  

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79 Comments leave one →
  1. Sydney Bebar permalink
    September 29, 2011 7:31 pm

    1. Edo was a small town filled with homes, stalls, temples, palaces, and gardens. It was right by the sea which had lots of trade spots.
    2. When the shogunate set up a fortress city there around 1600 it was a small village.
    3. By 1700, it had a population of 1,200,000.
    4. The worst hardships were disease, famine and earthquakes. The Great Meireki Fire in January 1657 destroyed Edo Castle. In 1732, nearly 1 million people starved to death in a famine caused by poor harvests.
    5. In the Edo period, children from age 7 to 15 attended neighborhoods temple schools run by Buddhist sects. They were taught to read, write and use an abacus. Most were taught by priests or monks but samurai, doctors and people in other professions also served as teachers.

    • Jessica Sherwin permalink
      October 1, 2011 7:50 pm

      When I read your third comment, I was surprise that by 1700 (when Edo was only been around for almost a hundred years) that their were that many people in such a small time; it amazes me that there could be that many.

    • Elise Vice permalink
      October 2, 2011 2:49 pm

      I agree with Jessica. It’s crazy how many people could move there in such a small amount of time.

  2. Ben Trouvais permalink
    October 1, 2011 2:36 pm

    1. Edo never had an official border. Some said that it ended in the general area of the castle. Others say that it stretched to its suberbs and farms.
    2. Government ofiicials and normal travelers were not aloud to stay in the same inn. They had seperate kinds with seperate prices and luxeries.
    3. It is unlawful to draw a weapon inside Edo castle. Any person, even a samurai, who is caught doing this will be forced to commit suicide.
    4. Leading into certain neighborhoods are gates. These gates are closed at night to keep criminals out of an area.
    5. The main tower of Edo castle was never rebult. It is said that the third Shogun had a dream that showed some of Japan’s most important political leaders being pushed off the tower. He was afraid that this would happen, so it was not rebuilt.

    • Sydney Bebar permalink
      October 2, 2011 6:57 pm

      For your second fact it is almost like that was their form of segregation, just many years before our segregation. Also, for your third fact, why would they have them commit suicide. Wouldn’t it be more satisfying to do it themselves?

    • Shane Chetney permalink
      October 2, 2011 7:06 pm

      I found the third fact pretty interesting. Considering the only weapons they had were knifes or swords, being forced to commit suicide in this way must have been pretty horrible!!

      • Alyssa Gue permalink
        October 24, 2011 4:58 pm

        Shane, I’m pretty sure being forced to commit suicide in ANY way would be pretty horrible. And Sydney, i agree, you’d think that itd be more satisfying to kill someone themselves. But maybe they had them do it out of humiliation and shame?

    • Zach CIko permalink
      January 3, 2012 7:21 pm

      I think it is weird how edo never had a officail border

  3. Jessica Sherwin permalink
    October 1, 2011 7:46 pm

    One: Edo had many small street fights that ended quickly and regularly.
    Two: In Edo, they have a way to copy pictures without rewriting or redrawing.
    Three: To show discipline, parents, mostly fathers, would hit their children.
    Four: Even though Edo was a very small city, there were houses that were cluttered everywhere, with only small streets and alleyways that lead to other small streets.
    Five: Edo was the seat of government that was lead by the shogun.

    • Lyssette Bedolla permalink
      October 2, 2011 7:05 pm

      When I researched I found it kind of weird that a small city would be the seat of government in Japan. I would have never guessed that a small city would be like that.

    • Mark Burjek permalink
      October 3, 2011 8:31 pm

      The tidbit mentioned about the street fights is something I can believe, as the exact same thing happened in the book.

  4. October 1, 2011 8:23 pm

    I think everyone did an excellent job of finding information about Edo. Nice job all four of you.

  5. October 1, 2011 8:42 pm

    1: The land was arranged as a castle town because it surronded a castle. thw area was known as Yamanote.
    2: During the edo period, there were about one hundred fires. normally started by accident and would eventially grow. Great Fire of Meireki in 1657 killed 100.000 people
    3: It rapidly grew in 1457; it was orginally a small, unknown village for fishing that became a metropolis with an estimated population of over a million people by 1721.
    4: From 1600-1945, Edo had fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and wars about every 25-50 years.
    5: In 1868, after the shogunate came to an end, the city was renamed Tokyo meaning “eastern capital” and it became the capital of Japan. The emperor and his residence moved to Tokyo.

    • Elise Vice permalink
      October 2, 2011 2:55 pm

      That’s horrible that there were so many disasters. Especially when they didn’t have some of the safety tools and precautions we have now.

      • October 2, 2011 3:58 pm

        ya, it is really sad, but its kind of like the chicago fire. It allowed them to rebuild and update their civilization.

    • Lyssette Bedolla permalink
      October 2, 2011 6:58 pm

      Number two really explains why Basho house burned down. I was blown away when I finally figured it out.

    • Persephone Allee permalink
      October 2, 2011 8:42 pm

      It’s sort of amazing how fast the place grew. I guess I understand that it was over a century and was a decent length of time but it’s still hard to grasp.

    • Zach CIko permalink
      January 3, 2012 7:23 pm

      It seems like edo had some bad luck with ll these natural disaters appering

  6. Elise Vice permalink
    October 2, 2011 2:45 pm

    1. Not many people know this, but sushi was invented in Edo. Though many believe it was brought over from China, it was invented around 1850 by street vendors. It was nutritious and cheap, making it popular with the poor.
    2. In Japanese, Edo means “bay-entrance” or “estuary”.
    3. Edo was once the largest city in the world.
    4. The population was so large in Edo because of many people coming from the country seeking employment in tough times.
    5. There was no tuition in schools, children only payed what they could.

    • October 2, 2011 3:57 pm

      i really like the sushi fact, would have never guessed that it was designed to be cheap with how much it costs now a days.

    • Shane Chetney permalink
      October 2, 2011 7:13 pm

      Definitely agree with Jackie, who would have thought it was meant to be a cheap meal considering how expensive it is today. Good thing I don’t like it anyway!

    • Bobby cortesi permalink
      October 2, 2011 7:47 pm

      sushi was invented in edo? cool i didnt know that very interesting

    • Persephone Allee permalink
      October 2, 2011 8:32 pm

      The first fact about sushi is definitley neat. I knew that it originated in Japan but not anywhere specific. I would have thought that it was made much sooner, though. Very interesting but it saddens me that I can’t stand the it.

    • DREW BURJEK permalink
      October 3, 2011 7:17 pm

      I think its fascinating that Edo actually means bay-entrance. And, that it was once the largest city in the world, I did not know that.

    • October 4, 2011 9:36 pm

      The tuition in schools is an interesting fact. That makes me wonder – how did schools get their funding?

  7. October 2, 2011 3:56 pm

    1)Edo is about 400 years old and began as a fishing village.
    2) It was constructed in 1457 when a vassal went and built Edo castle.
    3) when the Edo castle was built it gained a lot of importance among Japanese people.
    4) In the 18th century, Edo had grown to become the cultural and political center of Japan.
    5) During WWII Edo was heavily bombed and major parts were destroyed.

    • Bobby cortesi permalink
      October 2, 2011 7:46 pm

      I think that its very interesting that edo was bombed and major parts were destroyed thanks for the info

    • DREW BURJEK permalink
      October 3, 2011 7:18 pm

      I think the reason why it was named Edo, is because it was built at a bay.

    • October 4, 2011 9:34 pm

      It’s not surprising that because it was the capitol, it became the cultural center of Edo. That happens in alot of nations. For example, what would you say the cultural center of France is? Most people would probably answer Paris. Oddly enough though, the same can’t be said about the U.S. People might answer New York or Chicago.

    • cj moody permalink
      November 1, 2011 5:13 pm

      its interesting that something so small and unknown can become so big

  8. Zach Ciko permalink
    October 2, 2011 4:47 pm

    1. The Edo era went through to 1603 -1868, it was ended by the meji-jadai period.
    2. In the 1600’s the city became the center of their nations goverment when the edo clan leader became shogun.
    3. In 1869 the emporer meji moved to edo making the edo castle the imperial palace.
    4. Edo was first fortified by the edo clan in the 12th century.
    5.Edo’s castle was made in 1457 by Ota Dakon.

    • Sydney Bebar permalink
      October 2, 2011 6:59 pm

      For your fifth fact, I thought it was interesting that the Edo castle was made exactly 146 years before the Edo period. I would have thought you would have made the castle after the era started. Cool fact!

  9. Lyssette Bedolla permalink
    October 2, 2011 6:56 pm

    1.) Rice was the base of the economy
    2.) Taxes were high, about 40% of the harvest
    3.) Chōnindō (the way of the townspeople) was a distinct culture that arose
    4.) The capital was changed from Kyoto to Edo because it was the center of real political power
    5.) During the edo period it was the site of a vibrant urban culture centered on notions of the “floating world”

    • Hannah Schram permalink
      October 18, 2011 3:52 pm

      I thought your fourth fact was very interesting because I never knew that Kyoto was even once the capitol of Japan. Also, I like your fifth fact because I agree that Japan would be known as the ‘floating world” from after all of the insights from Basho.

  10. Shane Chetney permalink
    October 2, 2011 7:02 pm

    1. Edo had narrow streets bordered by wooden houses, stalls, temples, palaces, and gardens
    2. The Edo period lasted from 1457 untill 1867
    3. In 1720 Edo had a population of approximately 30 million people.
    4. In 1457 as ordered by Uesugi Mochitomo, the construction of Edo Castle begins in what is now the East Garden of the Kokyo Imperial Palace. Ota Dokan and Uesugi’s Vassal are assigned the task.
    5. In 1637 The construction of Edo Castle, including the main tower, is finally completed.

    • Kamil Czaplinski permalink
      October 4, 2011 10:01 pm

      I was amazed at your 3rd fact Shane because that is approximately 20,000 more people in a medium sized village over 200 years ago.

  11. Bobby cortesi permalink
    October 2, 2011 7:45 pm

    1. Edo period was from 1603-1867
    2. In1633 the shogun forbade traveling aboard and almost isolated japan by 1639 by banning foreign books. Despite the isolation, domestic trade and agricultural production continued to improve.
    3. During this period it became one of the largest cities in the world.
    4. Edo rapidly grew from what had been an unknown fishing village in1457 to 1 million inhabitants by the 1700’s
    5. Their culture became very urbanized and urbanized fashion spread because of more people moving to the city.

    • Mark Burjek permalink
      October 3, 2011 8:29 pm

      I find it interesting that foreign books were banned. I don’t know if the Japanese wrote a lot of books, but if they didn’t then they must have had a hard time finding a good book.

  12. Jacob Kosinski permalink
    October 2, 2011 7:53 pm

    1. Asakusa was one of the main temple districts in Edo. It is the most important temple in Edo, and many Buddhist leaders in the city lived there.
    2. The job of managing the Edos water system is handled by the mizu-bugyo and a staff of mizu-bannin.
    3 The mizu-bugyo is one of the few top officials in the bakufu (shogun officals) who is appointed to his position, rather than inheriting it
    4. In 1868 Edo was reanamed Toyoko and made the capital of Japan
    5. Samuri made up about 6% of Edo’s population during the Tokugawa period

    • cj moody permalink
      November 1, 2011 5:12 pm

      its intersting that there were so many buddhists way back then. it spreaded so quickly.

  13. Persephone Allee permalink
    October 2, 2011 8:24 pm

    1- All of the main roads in Edo are guarded by seki, barriers. The guards stop all travelers to check for troublemakers and check everyone for weapons.
    2- People who entered the city that carried a large load would have to have be inspected for a weapon.
    3-Only samurai were allowed to carry weapons and if you were caught with one you would be severly punished.
    4- Some monks got involved in the fighting themselves making it so that gates of many temples are as strong and solid as the gates of a castle.
    5- Wealthy samurai and some merchants often go to a noh — a “high-class” type of drama performance.

    • Kamil Czaplinski permalink
      October 4, 2011 9:56 pm

      Your first fact is really interesting because, they actually had guards that checked for weapons, which is a really smart idea so limit the amount of death and terrorism in a town.

      • Jacob Kosinski permalink
        November 13, 2011 2:16 pm

        How Edo had guards to check people for weapons is kind of like security at an airport. I wonder when they started having these guards, because in our country, we havn’t had too much airport security until the threat of terrorism.

  14. DREW BURJEK permalink
    October 3, 2011 7:02 pm

    1. Samurais, farmers, and merchants all had to wear different clothes all the time.
    2. Most samurais became government officials during two and a half centuries of peace.
    3. Farmers weren’t allowed to drink the “luxurious” tea.
    4. Most Japanese learn from dutch traders.
    5. The Edo period began with the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603, and ends with the Meiji Restoration.

    • Blair Tuider permalink
      October 4, 2011 8:55 pm

      I wonder why the farmers werent allowed to drink certain tea.

    • nate zurawski permalink
      October 10, 2011 10:04 am

      Why did everyone have to wear different clothes?

      • Yazmine Thomas permalink
        October 19, 2011 5:46 pm

        Did everyone wear different clothes so people can tell them apart or just beacause ?

        • Alyssa Gue permalink
          October 24, 2011 5:02 pm

          I’m wondering the same Yazmine. Was that their form of segregation…?

  15. Mark Burjek permalink
    October 3, 2011 8:26 pm

    1. Edo (江戸) was constructed in 1457, and was controlled by the Tokugawa family for 250 years.
    2. Edo was renamed “Tokyo” in September of 1868 by Emperor Meiji.
    3. The Edo-Tokyo Museum was founded in March of 1993 to preserve the heritage of the city.
    4. The name Edo means “estuary” which is a partly enclosed body of water with one or more rivers flowing through it and a free connection to the open sea.
    5. During the Meiji period, the city was also pronounced “Tokei”, an alternative pronunciation for the same Chinese characters representing “Tokyo”.

    • Blair Tuider permalink
      October 4, 2011 8:55 pm

      I didnt know that Edo was renamed Tokyo. i thought it was just another city

      • Meghan Moreno permalink
        October 13, 2011 7:25 pm

        Me too! I wonder what the reason was for renaming it.

    • Jessica Sherwin permalink
      October 4, 2011 9:05 pm

      I didn’t know that it was controlled by a certian family, i\I though it was some sort of Emperors that had many heirs. I would have never had guessed about the Tokugawa family being the ruler for 250 years.

  16. Blair Tuider permalink
    October 4, 2011 8:53 pm

    1) Edo is the capital of Japan
    2)Edo was a time period in Japn starting from 1603-1867
    3)Edo was ruled by the Tokugawa family for 2 centries
    4)In 1600 leyasu defeat the Hideori loylaists and other western rivials
    5)Tokugawa Ieyasu was the most powerful man in Japan after Hideori died in 1598

    • Yazmine Thomas permalink
      October 19, 2011 5:43 pm

      I did not know Tokugawa Ieyasu was the most powerful man in Japan after Hideori died in 1598 . But why ? I am totally looking this up its very intresting .

  17. October 4, 2011 9:29 pm

    1. In the late sixteenth and the early seventeenth century, Tokugawa moved the capitol of Japan to Edo.
    2.Tokugawa made the capitol to be a military capitol with which he could put his power in.
    3.During the Tokugawa, or Edo period, Japan deliberately cut off contact with the outside world.
    4.Priests and Monks were grouped together with the outcasts. They lived on the very edge of Edo.
    5. During the Tokugawan rule, many samurai, in the time of peace, became bureaucratic government officials in Edo.

    • tyler webber permalink
      October 17, 2011 9:05 pm

      I didn not know that the capitol of Japan was ever moved. Thanks for informing me of this.

  18. Kamil Czaplinski permalink
    October 4, 2011 9:52 pm

    1. Only China and the Dutch East India Company were able to visit Japan during the Edo period.
    2.The Edo period was an extended time of peace and the richest time in the history of Japan.
    3.This period, helped and pretty much established Japan’s government.
    4.Altogether there were 15 shogun that ended up ruling during the Edo period.
    5. The samurai would teach each other martial arts, literature, philosophy and the arts (ceremonies).

    • Ben Trouvais permalink
      October 9, 2011 6:12 pm

      I never would have thought that only certain people were allowed to visit Japan during this period. You would think they would want more visiters to increase trade.

    • nate zurawski permalink
      October 10, 2011 10:05 am

      I wonder why Edo was the wealthiest time in Japan?

      • Meghan Moreno permalink
        October 13, 2011 7:23 pm

        yeah it seems like it would be poor because its all old and not much stuff was iinvented and things like that. You would think that with all the modern things Japan would be healthier now.

  19. Tyler Pearson permalink
    October 6, 2011 7:20 pm

    1. Edo was built along the edge of the Great River, now called the Sumaida River
    2. The Edo bridge was the commercial centre of the town.
    3. Around 1800, the Edo Castle was made an imperial castle when the Emperor moved there.
    4.Places callled eta were the most unhygenic paces in the Entire city, and thus were moved to the outskirts of the city.
    5. When Edo was renamed Tokyo, it literally meant Eastern Capitol.

    • Ben Trouvais permalink
      October 9, 2011 6:17 pm

      I think that it’s a little weird that the commercial center would be a bridge. In most European countries it’s a square or a marketplace. The bridge must have meant a great deal to the citizens of Edo.

  20. nate zurawski permalink
    October 10, 2011 10:03 am

    1- Present day Edo is known as Old Tokyo.

    2- The city was constructed around the Great Edo Castle.

    3- Edo turned from a virtually unknown fishing village to a huge city with a population of about 1 million from 1457 to 1721 and was the largest city in the world at the time.

    4- The Edo Castle was built in 1457.

    5- in 1864 British, Dutch, French, and American warships attacked and made ports for foreigners.

    • tyler webber permalink
      October 17, 2011 9:04 pm

      This really helped me understand the Edo period more, this was a good five facts.

    • Jacob Kosinski permalink
      November 13, 2011 2:13 pm

      Its weird how such a small, unknown city with nothing too important can grow so fast. This is kind of like America, how our country is so small compared to others, but we have one of the largest populations in the world now.

    • November 30, 2011 10:22 pm

      Everything was built around the imporant thing (the caslte), I find that funny for some odd reason. Just the picture of it in my head when I read your second fact. xD

  21. Meghan Moreno permalink
    October 13, 2011 7:20 pm

    1. Edo was the power of Tokugawa shogunate from 1603- 1868
    2. Peasent woman had to do household chores and were very important to the family during the Edo period
    3. Samurai made up 6% of Japan’s population
    4. Merchants where very powerful during this period
    5. Japan had strict customs and regulations to promote stability

    • Hannah Schram permalink
      October 18, 2011 3:47 pm

      Many of the facts I learned about Edo supported your facts and I find it interesting that only 6% of the Japanese population were made up of samurais.

  22. tyler webber permalink
    October 17, 2011 9:03 pm

    -Edo had its own ruling span in Japan.
    -Edo has its own castles throughout Japan.
    -Edo was a time period.
    -Merchants were very powerful during the Edo perioc\d
    -Where Edo was Old Tokyo is located now.

  23. Hannah Schram permalink
    October 18, 2011 3:45 pm

    1. Tokugawa Leyasu was the ruler and most powerful person in all of Japan during the Edo period.
    2. The social groups during the Edo period, from top to bottom, were Emperors and Nobles, Samurai, Peasents, Craftsmen, and Merchants.
    3. Each region of Edo was ruled by a leader called daimyo which all went to war to increase their power.
    4. Between 1549-1587, missionaries came over to Edo to convert Japanese to Christianity.
    5. Japan developed most of its modern structures from the period of Edo and then it was renamed Tokyo in 1868.

  24. Yazmine Thomas permalink
    October 19, 2011 5:39 pm

    1.Edo is the period of Japanese history referring to the block of time from 1603 – 1867.
    2.It was a time of peace and prosperity for Japan
    3.the time when Japan famously isolated itself from the rest of world.
    4.Tokugawa Ieyasu was appointed as Shogun by the Emperor
    5.one of the most famous influences that remains from this time was the development of the arts

  25. Ebony Alvarado permalink
    October 21, 2011 4:02 pm

    1. about 80% of the people were rice farmers
    2. In the cities and towns, guilds of merchants and artisans met the growing demand for goods and services.
    3.The samurai, forbidden to engage in farming or business but allowed to borrow money, borrowed too much.
    4. By 1800 the commercialization of the economy grew rapidly, bringing more and more remote villages into the national economy.
    5. Rich farmers appeared who switched from rice to high-profit commercial crops and engaged in local money-lending, trade, and small-scale manufacturing.

    • Kevin Wilson permalink
      October 25, 2011 7:07 pm

      I didn’t know that so many people liveing in edo were rice farmers. that must have been quite a few people that were rice farmers exspesily when the population started to grow.

  26. Alyssa Gue permalink
    October 24, 2011 5:14 pm

    1. One of the most elaborate castles in Japan is located in Edo and covers over 2 km from north to south and almost 1.5 km from east to west in an oval shaped land area.
    2. The main roads in Edo were guarded with barriers to search travelers for weapons near the military checkpoint.
    3.The Tokaido was one of the most busy highways in the world, it was more important than even the 18th and 19th century European roads.
    4. There were no “borders” to seperate Edo from any other cities or provinces.
    5. There were juku towns every 5-10 km on the roads in Edo.

  27. Kevin Wilson permalink
    October 25, 2011 5:57 pm

    the castle sounds big i didn’t even know Edo had a castle until reading abought it and it sounds like a nice castle. also i think it was a smart idea for them to build barriers to check people for wepons.

  28. Kevin Wilson permalink
    October 25, 2011 6:12 pm

    1. Edo Castle was not always large and grand like it is today.
    2. The castle was built by a man named Ota Dokan who was a small locial ruler.
    3. He made it so the castle was entirely surrounded by water and swampy land making it almost impossible to attack.
    4. Edo is now part of tokyo the part of it is called old tokyo.
    5. From1603 to 1868 edo grew to be one of the largest cities in japan.

    • November 30, 2011 10:18 pm

      that caslte being surounded by water reminds me of the old cartoons, becuase there was this one episode of Huckleberry hound where the dog was a knight and had to save a princess who was in a castle surounded by water.

  29. cj moody permalink
    November 1, 2011 5:03 pm

    1. Edo was a small town filled with lots of trading near the sea.
    2. it was built on the side of the Sumaida River
    3. Edo was renamed Tokyo by Emperor Meiji in September of 1868
    4. many of the people were big farmers.
    5. they changed the capital from kyoto to edo for the better political power

  30. November 30, 2011 10:15 pm

    1. Today, in Tokyo, they have an Edo Museum.
    2. Edo Castle, in Edo, has housed the Tokugawa shogun and Emperor Meiji (untill the emperor moved into the Imperial Palace).
    3. Daimyos were required to spend every other year in Edo.
    4. The Edo bridge marked the center of Edo’s Kuramae, also known as the city’s commercail center (kind of like a mallish area in today’s world).
    5. The Sumida River ran along the eastern side of Edo. There, you could find the shogunate’s official rice storage warehouses.

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