Varieties of Control and Release in Tokugawa Religion
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The Tokugawa period (1600-1868) brought significant social, legislative, and institutional change to Japan, including peace and stability that pervaded much of early modern society. Life in these new social conditions was experienced under the authoritative and ideological influence of the shogunal regime, which sought to order society in a way reflective of administrative ideals. However, while control over Tokugawa inhabitants existed to a certain degree, there were also instances of geographical and social release from such control through engagement in religious pilgrimage and ritual. Practices such as these allowed some citizens to move around, through, and perhaps beyond the modes of confinement established by authorities. This release, which is illuminated by considerations of social and ritual theory, leaves us with a nuanced picture of Tokugawa life and indicates that relatively fluid portions of society may have maneuvered within the boundaries of the hegemonic structure.