Since 1616, the Edo or Tokugawa (shogunate) period, Japan was closed to foreigners, except the Chinese and the Dutch. The country then experienced a great period of stability and development. The cities extend and a middle class emerges with the merchants and large craftsmen. From the visit of Commodore Perry in 1854, Japan evolved very quickly. In ten years, Westerners intervened militarily to force Japan to open up to international trade. Finally, the last shogun Yoshinobu abdicated and Mutsuhito ascended the throne in 1867, it was the beginning of the Meiji era (1868-1912), the modernization and transformation of Japan from a feudal nation to the second economic power on the planet..