Visit the "Castles" of Past Daimyo, Feudal Lords in Japan
Learn About the Deep History of Japan and Some of Its Greatest Architecture
If you are interested in learning about the Edo Period, I recommend visiting one of the many daimyo yashiki (feudal lord mansions) that can still be found in many parts of Tokyo. During the Edo Period, every feudal lord was forced by the Tokugawa Shogunate (the central government) to build and maintain at least three mansions in Edo (former name for Tokyo). This scheme was part of the laws passed at the beginning of the Edo Period by the Tokugawa Shogunate called the Buke Shohatto. Other laws included forcing daimyo to embark on an elaborate daimyo gyoretsu (procession) from their respective han to Edo once a year and to spend half of the year there. These laws were passed to drain daimyo of their wealth, keeping them weak and dependent on the Shogunate, and protect Tokugawa authority.
Daimyo yashiki therefore had to be very elaborate to increase cost. Visiting one of these yashiki is a great opportunity to learn about Edo Japan, as well as witness great Japanese architecture and experience the manner of a wealthy person’s life during the Edo period. An interesting thing I learnt on a trip to a yashiki called Nanushi yashiki was that the daimyo would keep a small boat in the attic in anticipation of floods, which were common in the Edogawa river area.