At the beginning of the 17th century the Tokugawa warrior clan unified Japan and established a strong government. With the peace and stability of Tokugawa rule came economic prosperity, and the arts flourished. Although the samurai ruled Japan, merchants, craftsmen and common people became increasingly affluent. Yet the prevailing social structures strictly limited the opportunities available to the commoners, so they poured their energy into creating a culture of their own. The Kabuki theatre and the licensed entertainment districts became the focal points of popular art and literature.
The Tokugawa shogunate fell in 1868.