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This work aims to synthesize art history, historical memory, and Tokugawa-era Japanese politics with an art history approach and cultural analysis. It takes a more complete look at the politics of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s death and the significance of memorial and religious architecture as political works. It examines the utilization of architecture as a way to elevate and legitimize the Tokugawa, demonstrating that policy was not the only way for the Tokugawa to solidify their legacy and suggesting that key figures like Ieyasu were more important to the religious and political structures of Tokugawa Japan in death than they were in life.

This paper begins by discussing the immediate political effects of Ieyasu’s death and the establishment of the Nikko Toshogu before discussing the physical aspects of the shrine and comparing it with the Ise Shrine to establish the relationship between the shogun and the Emperor. Finally, it examines the mausoleum of Sūgen-in, Tokugawa Iemitsu’s mother, in order to contextualize the shift of the architectural style of female mausoleums to emulate those of their male counterparts, showing a growing inclusivity towards women in establishing the legacy of the Tokugawa during the early Edo Period.

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