Famous Birthdays, History Today — March 16, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Famous Birthdays Today: 1800 – Emperor Ninko of Japan.

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Emperor Ninkō (March 16, 1800 – February 21, 1846) was the 120th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. Ninkō’s reign spanned the years from 1817 through 1846.
His reign coincided with what is referred to as “the late Tokugawa Shogunate” period and in particular the beginnings of the decline of the shōgun, or bakufu (幕府). Although the final fall of the Tokugawa shogunate only came about during the Meiji Restoration and as a result of the opening of Edo-era Japan to the Western world, it was not simply their inability to cope with the situation that was their undoing.
In the mid-19th century a complex political struggle was already forming between the bakufu and its critics. From the outset, the Tokugawa attempted to restrict the accumulation of wealth by families and had promoted a “back to the soil” policy, making the farmer, as the ultimate producer, the ideal person within society.
However, as a result of a combination of a long period of peace; better crop production, transport, housing; and in increase in entertainment and leisure time, the standard of living of the average rural dweller rose, despite efforts to restrict wealth. A high rate of literacy, resulted in cultural values being redefined and infused amongst both the samurai and chōnin (merchant-class). Although the government tried to restrict the merchants, seeing them as unproductive members of society, the samurai relied on the chōnin for supplies and were thus converted to the chōnin’s cause.
This resulted in a struggle between the shōgun and the merchant class, as a result of the political limitations that the shōgun imposed. The cumbersome government bureaucracy could not adapt to the new emerging social order, which was compounded by rapid population growth during the same period. (The 1721 census listed 26 million commoners and about 4 million members of samurai families). Droughts, peasant unrest and mass protests over taxes and food shortages became common occurrences. Previously wealthy families, now landless, were forced to become tenant farmers, whilst the cities’ populations grew as rural poor moved into them. A new, wealthy farming class emerged and many samurai who had fallen on tough times were forced to work for merchants.
Among Ninkō’s innovations was the establishment of the Gakushūsho (the predecessor of the Gakushūin for the Court Nobility just outside of the Imperial Palace.
After Ninkō’s death in 1846, he was enshrined in the Imperial mausoleum, Nochi no Tsukinowa no Higashiyama no misasagi, which is at Sennyū-ji in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto. Also enshrined in Tsukinowa no misasagi, at Sennyū-ji are this emperor’s immediate Imperial predecessors since Emperor Go-Mizunoo — Meishō, Go-Kōmyō, Go-Sai, Reigen, Higashiyama, Nakamikado, Sakuramachi, Momozono, Go-Sakuramachi, Go-Momozono and Kōkaku. The shrine complex also encompasses the misasagi of Ninkō’s immediate successor — Kōmei. Empress Dowager Yoshikō is also entombed at this Imperial mausoleum complex.
Source: Wikipedia, read more here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_Ninkō

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