This excellent PBS documentary series consists of three parts of 1 hour each covering Japanese history from the arrival of the Portuguese in 1543 to the arrival of Perry and the Americans in 1854. Narrated by Richard Chamberlain, interspersed with interviews of Western and Japanese academics, this fascinating show is illustrated with re-enactments and period art work. Part I covers the Momoyama period of civil war through Nobunaga to Hideyoshi and tells of the rise of Tokugawa Ieasu and ends with the siege of Osaka castle in 1615. Part II covers the Tokugawa Shogunate from 1603 to the Shimabara rebellion in 1638, which led to the closure of Japan under Ieasu's grandson. Western influence, including Christianity, is important in this period. Part III covers the period of Japanese isolation, from the time of the Dutch concession in Nagasaki harbor up to the arrival of American commodore Matthew Perry in 1854. The Samurai class declines during this period as the merchant class rises, Japanese culture flourishes, and Edo (Tokyo) becomes the largest city in the world.
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